Healthy Building Practices In Qualified Allocation Plans

Data from October 2020.

States promote healthy building practices by requiring or incentivizing developers to achieve building certifications, many of which include provisions that target the health and wellness of residents. There are currently 13 different certifications referenced in various QAPs, in addition to several state-specific building standards. These certifications—or third party building standards—are established by an independent party that evaluates multifamily building performance. A decade ago, only around a third of states mentioned third-party green building certifications, an amount we’ve seen double in recent years.

Enterprise Green Communities 29
PassiveHouse 15
DOE Zero Energy Ready 8
Southface EarthCraft 5

It’s important to note that not all building certifications are created equal. These standards consider environmental, economic, and social aspects of affordable housing, and various measures must be met to achieve certification. While many include language on locality or health, they do not require them. Projects can ignore health checklist items if the builder chooses to prioritize other items, such as energy efficiency or sustainability. For example, the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority requires applicants for LIHTCs to provide evidence their proposed project will receive a green building certification, with both Enterprise Green Communities and the National Green Building Standards (NGBS) listed as options. However, Enterprise Green Communities mandates projects use low-VOC interior paint, low-VOC primers and coatings, and non-VOC emitting flooring, all of which are optional if the development is certified through NGBS.

While most states have different overall standards and requirements for new construction as opposed to rehabilitation or preservation projects, building certifications are often mirrored between the two development options. However, there are some outliers. Missouri, for instance, requires new developments to meet the current standards of Enterprise Green Communities, any LEED rating system, or NGBS; in rehabilitation projects the green building requirement is highly encouraged but optional.