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Energy-Efficiency in Affordable Housing Under Spotlight in Lawrence, Mass.

Release Date: 12/09/2008
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, (617) 918-1027

(December 9, 2008) – The City of Lawrence, Mass. distinguished itself today as a pioneer in energy efficiency by joining EPA’s community energy challenge and creating affordable new energy-efficient homes with a near-zero energy goal.

At an event today, the U.S. EPA and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) celebrated the City’s accomplishments at a duplex on Alder Street that is part of Bread & Roses Housing’s (BRH) latest project, six affordable, energy-efficient 3-bedroom units on three scattered sites in the Arlington and lower Towerhill neighborhoods of Lawrence. These six units, which are being developed in partnership with the Lawrence Housing Authority, are being funded in part with $100,000 in HUD HOME funds administered by the City of Lawrence. Other funders include Charlesbank Homes, Clipper Ship Foundation, Federal Home Loan Bank AHP grant, McCarthy Memorial Trust, Pentucket Bank, Stevens Foundation, TD Banknorth Charitable Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, and many other generous donors.

BRH is also a recipient of the Affordable Energy Star Rebate Program, making it possible for all six homes to utilize 3.42 kW of solar PV power. Having built to the ENERGY STAR Homes Standard since 2004, the current development is BRH’s first project that is being built with a near-zero energy goal.

"We are thrilled that Bread and Roses took the steps necessary to develop this project with a near zero energy goal. By reducing the cost of utility bills, we are reducing the cost of living for the low and moderate income families that we serve" said Kristine Foye, HUD Deputy Regional Director.

Founded in 1988, Bread & Roses Housing (BRH) is a community land trust whose mission is to create and preserve affordable homeownership opportunities for low income families, to support families’ goals of self-sufficiency, education and empowerment, to improve economically distressed neighborhoods, and to advocate for the needs of very low income households within the Greater Lawrence area. Bread & Roses Housing has been extraordinarily successful at helping low income families purchase and maintain their first home.

The 3-bedroom unit at 95 Alder St has been selected as one of six finalists in a state-wide Zero Energy Challenge sponsored by Massachusetts’ investor-owned electric utility companies–National Grid, NSTAR, Until, and Western Mass Electric. The purpose of the Zero Energy Challenge is to promote the use of advanced energy efficiency technologies and engage Massachusetts builders in utilizing advanced building techniques. The quality, high performance construction of these homes is being implemented by general contractor, Joe Levis of Levis Companies of North Andover.

The New England Community Energy Challenge is a regional program of the ENERGY STAR Challenge, a nationwide campaign to improve energy efficiency in commercial and industrial buildings across the United States by 10 percent or more. Cities and towns that join the New England Community Energy Challenge commit to reduce energy use by 10% and sign on to be an ENERGY STAR partner. There are 123 communities, about 30 percent of New England’s total population that have signed on to the challenge.

“Across New England, businesses and organizations are stepping forward to brighten our nation’s future by making smart decisions that are good for the environment and good for the bottom line,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England office. “I applaud the City of Lawrence for showing the innovation and commitment to by saving energy and dollars through energy efficiency.”

These cities and towns can take advantage of free EPA ENERGY STAR tools and resources to assess, or benchmark, building energy use in schools, municipal buildings and/or wastewater facilities. Participants also have access to a network of organizations, professionals and funding opportunities that can help them improve energy efficiency and take advantage of renewable energy resources in their community.

More information:

- EPA’s
New England Community Energy Challenge (
- The
ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool (