It all started with Passive House and PHFA...
In the Spring of 2014, a group of approximately 25 stakeholders gathered in Harrisburg, PA to propose to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), the organization responsible for all Low Income Housing Tax Credit - LIHTC - Federal funding for affordable housing in the state, that they initiate a project which would have all affordable housing in Pennsylvania be designed and constructed to a Net-Zero-Energy-Capable standard by 2030.
PHFA was already looking to “raise the bar” with respect to energy efficiency as developers had been surpassing their standards for years. PHFA welcomed the challenge and within four months put the project in motion by introducing language into their 2015 Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) which incentivizes developers interested in 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funding to design/construct their projects to meet the rigorous Passive House Standard. Read more about the National Net-Zero-Energy Initiative. And check out this recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article on the subject.
The vision has been to replicate these efforts across states and within their HFA's, scaling the work quickly to have maximum effect on climate change impact reduction.
How does this relate to the conference?
The concept of the New Gravity Housing Conference was realized by Tim McDonald of Onion Flats (who initiated the above proposal to PHFA) and David Salamon of Re:Vision Architecture, together with Green Building United. The goal was, and is, to bring affordable housing developers, financers, architects, designers, and other key stakeholders together to discuss how to design and build high-performance, net-zero, passive, multi-family housing, that can be achieved affordably due to PHFA's revised QAP.
We do not question the Law of Gravity when building. In that vein, we should not question climate change and its impacts on people and the built environment, and should adjust our actions accordingly. In other words, climate change is the "new gravity."
Where we are today.
In the fourth iteration of this important conference, we are excited to continue our discussion of plans and projects happening across North America and beyond. By looking at the larger picture of why these topics are relevant, and reviewing project data for lessons learned, we are growing our collective ability to build with efficiency and equity in mind.