Habitat for Humanity, Home Depot Partner for Energy Star

Habitat for Humanity International and The Home Depot Foundation have expanded Partners in Sustainable Building with a $30 million incentive fund to encourage affiliates to build 5,000 homes that meet Energy Star guidelines or a nationally recognized green building standard.

More than 120 affiliates across 45 states were selected to participate in the first year of the national rollout that begins at the end of August. These affiliates will be granted $3,000 for each home built to Energy Star standards and up to $5,000 for each home built to a higher green standard. Nearly 1,500 sustainable homes will be built in 2009 and 2010 alone. The grant process is annual, which gives other Habitat affiliates the opportunity to participate in the program.

Partners in Sustainable Building was established last year through a pilot program with 30 affiliates across a variety of climates in rural and urban areas throughout the United States. Habitat built more than 260 sustainable homes that met a green building standard during the pilot. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, benefits or features of homes built to this standard include:

  • Up to 50 percent less energy use than their conventional counterparts;
  • Reductions of up to a third in indoor water consumption because of high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances;
  • Incorporation of durable materials that lower maintenance costs over the life of the structure, making homes more affordable;
  • Approximately 11 tons less carbon and greenhouse gas emissions per household annually, the equivalent of taking 250 cars off the road.
"From a new energy-efficient water heater and weather stripping to programmable thermostats and a low-flow toilet and bathroom fixtures, our family is already seeing savings in our monthly utility bills," said Brian, a Habitat homeowner from the pilot program. "We're so excited about our new home. To know it's one that we can afford to maintain and live in for years to come means so much for our family."

The pilot program demonstrated that the upfront costs of building green are modest and can be recouped through savings on utility and energy costs over the course of a home's mortgage. For instance, during the pilot phase of the program, an additional $2,000 in energy-saving features were added to Habitat houses. Early results show energy savings between 15 and 30 percent. In fact, in some of the homes already built to LEED Platinum standards are seeing energy savings of almost 50 percent.

"The Home Depot Foundation believes green building techniques are not a luxury - they aren't exotic or expensive," said Kelly Caffarelli, president of The Home Depot Foundation. "By embracing the practical principles of green building, our partnership with Habitat for Humanity International is demonstrating that these techniques can actually make homes more affordable to own, maintain and live in from day one and for the long term. With health and economic concerns at an all-time high, this issue is more important than ever for the families who will purchase these homes."

To inspire and educate additional affiliate participation, eight Habitat State Support Organizations, which provide services to 440 affiliates, will also receive grant money to add staff and host training sessions for Habitat affiliates to learn how to build to nationally recognized green standards.

"The introduction of the Partners in Sustainable Building program has created excitement about the benefits of green building within Habitat for Humanity," said Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International. "With the support of The Home Depot Foundation, we have a great opportunity to bring the economic benefits of sustainable building to our homeowners and to show our volunteers how easily and affordably they can make their own homes greener as well."

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