Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity’s Commitment to Net Zero Building
We are pleased to announce our nomination for the Santa Fe Community Foundation‘s 33rd Annual Piñon Visionary Award! It’s an honor that our organization is under consideration to win this prestigious award, due to our commitment to advancing Net Zero Building. Through this commitment, we seek to create a community of Partner Families able to meet their own energy needs through independent, clean energy production in affordable, energy-efficient Habitat homes.
The mission of Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity is to promote affordable home ownership for Santa Fe area residents by constructing simple, adequate, and energy efficient new homes, and repairing or rehabilitating existing homes through the cooperative efforts of partner families, volunteers, donors, and staff. Our organization is consistently growing and adapting to meet needs in our local community and address the concerns of our global environment. We believe that a healthy community is one where homes are built with concern for our environment and valuable energy resources – this is the driving force behind our Commitment to Advancing Net Zero Building.
Our vision began with implementing green-building practices in the construction of our new homes to reduce overall energy consumption. We began thoroughly insulating the exterior of our homes with both rigid and blown insulation, achieving an R value of 24 on exterior walls and 42 on the home’s ceiling. Then, we started outfitting all light fixtures with energy-efficient, LED lights that consume less electricity and last significantly longer than the standard incandescent bulb. Finally, by installing mini-split heat pumps, we were able to provide heating and cooling for Habitat homes in an energy-efficient manner. In 2015, we were recognized for our efforts by the City of Santa Fe and received an award in the category of Affordable Green Building for constructing high quality, low maintenance, and energy-efficient homes.
As we continued to adopt practices in the interest of building energy-efficient homes, our board made the commitment in 2017 to install solar arrays on every new home we build for Habitat Partner Families. To date, we have installed solar arrays on 14 new Habitat homes. By installing solar panels on Habitat homes, we are providing our Partner Families with a way to produce sustainable, clean energy, right off their own roofs.
We are committed to Advancing Net Zero Building – constructing affordable homes that utilize less energy than they produce. We are carrying out this mission by continuing to implement green-building practices and install solar arrays on homes, while also outfitting our new homes with all electric appliances – thereby eliminating the use of natural gas and creating a home capable of producing enough electricity to independently meet all of its own energy needs.
Central to Santa Fe Habitat’s Mission
Our mission of striving for Net-Zero building is a visionary goal that seeks to provide a healthy environment for future generations through clean energy production, in addition to creating greater financial security and energy independence for our Partner Family homeowners.
By providing solar arrays and constructing new homes with all-electric appliances, we are creating an opportunity for homeowners to significantly reduce, or even eliminate, the carbon emissions tied to their home energy consumption. As we continue to construct and outfit homes in this manner, we are further reducing overall carbon emissions in our community. Because we know carbon dioxide emissions are directly tied to climate change, global warming, and air pollution, we are building in a way that is mindful of the health of our natural environment for generations to come. Clean energy means clean air and healthy ecosystems in New Mexico. It is our vision that future generations of New Mexicans should be able to enjoy the natural splendor and beauty of our state, unspoiled by the effects of pollution and climate change.
In addition to the positive effects on our environment, constructing Net-Zero homes also creates a positive effect on the financial security and independence of our Partner Family homeowners. Affordability for a home does not solely pertain to the up-front construction costs, down-payment assistance amounts, and a 0% mortgage. Affordability must also consider the long-term costs of living in the home. Through building high quality, energy-efficient, low maintenance homes with all-electric appliances and solar arrays, we are creating an opportunity for homeowners to nearly eliminate the costs associated with energy consumption. With significant savings on their monthly utility bills, families can now divert those savings to reinvest in their own wellbeing and future. Perhaps, the family invests in a savings account for their child’s college education. In 18 years, when that child is ready for college, they will have saved thousands of dollars for tuition, books, and other expenses. With scholarships, the child might not even have to take out student loans to get through school! We are currently working with a family that was previously low-income and living in inadequate housing, that is now able to provide a future for their child to enter the world as an adult with greater financial advantages. Combating poverty is a long process, and through providing Net-Zero homes, we are reducing the financial burdens for families, providing greater financial autonomy, and giving families an opportunity to break the poverty cycle for subsequent generations.
As we finish construction in the coming months on our first Net-Zero Partner Family home with all electric appliances and a solar array, we continually progress towards a future for our community that is financially secure and environmentally sustainable. Our organization’s goal of providing energy-efficient homes has evolved from implementing rudimentary “green” building practices, to installing state-of-the-art solar panels, now to constructing all-electric homes capable of producing more electricity than they consume. We anticipate being able to fulfill this vision indefinitely into the future as solar technology becomes more affordable, all-electric homes become the industry standard, and our capacity for providing affordable homes to low-income families in our community increases.