The new Arbor Green Apartments affordable housingdevelopment in Carson, California is a great case study for howgreen funding can be leveraged. The smart development has beengarnering substantial attention recently, not only for its manygreen features, its 90% dependence on solar energy, or as anaffordable multifamily development, but also for the way in whichthose features and the development itself were funded. Arbor Greenis an example of how a sustainability consultant can tie thedeveloper, energy efficiency technology, the architect, and severalsources of funding together to deliver a project that is a soundinvestment financially, socially and environmentally.

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Compliance, Certification and Compensation

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The recently completed $13.8 million Arbor Green project wasdeveloped by Affirmed Housing Group, and serves LA lower-incomefamilies. The developer successfully combined its goal to deliver alivable, affordable development with a focus on optimizing greenfeatures that reduce environmental impact. As a result, operationalcosts were drastically reduced, the affordable development receivedwidespread media attention (including being featured in Tax Credit Advisors and in a Green BuilderMagazine blog) and was fully leased within a month.

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The development will be honored with LEED's highest distinction:the LEED-Homes Platinum Certification. By providingLEED consulting, energy modeling, and HERSverification services to Affirmed Housing Group throughout thedesign and construction process, we were able to help them meetapplicable energy codes, achieve LEED certification and leverageavailable funding to offset the costs associated with implementingenergy efficiency measures.

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In addition, Partner Energy advised on a number of energyefficiency measures to be implemented and reduce building energyusage. This included: high efficiency HVAC equipment, high efficacy lighting, energystar appliances, a solar thermal hot water system and a solar PVarray. These items contributed to the building performing over 50%better than Title 24 energy code requirements and near NetZero on its whole building electricity consumption. Additionally,the project features a high efficiency irrigation system, draughtresistant landscaping, and low flow water fixtures in theresidences to reduce water use at the site by 47%. Thesesustainable features enabled the project to exceed compliance withlocal energy and water codes.

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Arbor Green – Affordable Green Living

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Arbor Green Apartments is a three-story, 40 unit,multifamily affordable housing development. The units come invarious sizes from one to three bedrooms, accommodating families atdifferent of income levels 30% or less, 50% or less, and 60% orless of the annual income limit (AMI). To put this in context forLos Angeles residents, the current federal annual income limit fora four person household at 60% AMI in the LA metro is $48,900.

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Arbor Green's various green features will help reduce monthlyutility bills for residents by close to 80%, to $5 or less. Theamenities that residents enjoy, however, were not reduced in anyway. Arbor Green has covered parking, an indoor/ outdoor communityspace, a BBQ area, laundry room, library, computer room andplayground, not to mention the services the staff provides, fromhomework help to cooking classes. Arbor Green started renting unitsearlier this year and already has a waiting list.

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The Payoffs for Going Green

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Arbor Green is an example that shows that sustainableconstruction can deliver huge payoffs for developers. Through thecommitment to green development, the project was able to secureclose to $6.2 million in equity generated by federal housing andsolar tax credits through Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and theCalifornia TaxCredit Allocation Committee (CTCAC). In addition, thedevelopment was able to secure over $170K from the New Solar Homes Partnership, as well as approximately$60,000 in energy efficiency rebates through the California Advanced Homes and Savings-By-Design programs.

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As demonstrated in the case of Arbor Green, the number and typesof rebates and incentives available for green development is vast.It's also continually changing, and varies depending on locationand the kind of development concerned. In this increasingly complexfunding landscape, doing your research (or seeking the advice of aknowledgeable consultant) to ensure you leverage funding and meetall applicable regulatory requirements pays off. The Arbor GreenDevelopment brought together MEP and Energy consulting and design teams,building owners and occupants to identify programs, incentives andenergy efficiency measures to create the highly energy-efficientand commercially viable Arbor Green Apartments.

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