Building a Sustainable Future for Affordable Housing Communities

Building a Sustainable Future for Affordable Housing Communities

By L. Michael Lopez, Construction and Sustainability Program Manager at Opportunity Home

We believe that creating sustainable living environments is critical not only to the health of our environment and our community, but the health and well-being of our residents. We continue to increase our efforts to provide the most optimal environment for our residents, and to be a good neighbor to the San Antonio community.

Incorporating Sustainability Into Our Developments

As the Construction and Sustainability Program Manager at Opportunity Home, my job is to ensure that we are creating the healthiest environments possible for our residents and our community, and using our resources effectively. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) encourages, and in some cases requires, sustainable practices, but at Opportunity Home we go beyond the minimum requirements. We follow the Build San Antonio Green (BSAG) guidelines which are tailored to our specific climate zone. 

These guidelines were created to protect the quality of life of the residents of San Antonio, and to develop standards by which new and existing structures can be certified as green or sustainable. When meeting with builders during the pre-construction phase, or before renovations begin on existing structures, we set the sustainability standards builders must follow to work with us. These include the installation of solar panels, rainwater capture systems, energy-efficient appliances and light fixtures, water saving faucets and toilets and the use of recycled building materials.

A prime example of what can be achieved when we incorporate these BSAG guidelines into our building practices is the Miravista community. The development had enough solar panels that it was designated a net zero build, meaning that it produces as much energy as it consumes. Opportunity Home was honored with an award for this achievement in solar energy use by BSAG.

These sustainability efforts have resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings which are reinvested in public housing improvements, and passed on to our residents in the form of lower energy bills. 

Planning for the Future

Looking toward the future, Opportunity Home believes that even more can be done. We have dedicated sustainability experts on our construction team, helping us integrate sustainability measures from the ground up, and have plans to grow the number of staff members dedicated to our sustainability initiatives. We have applied for grant funding for solar projects, and to add solar panels and rainwater capture to a recently renovated senior/disabled high rise that was built in the 1959. Plans to install electric charging stations in new developments and at the Opportunity Home headquarters are in the works.

Opportunity Home will continue to invest in the health and well-being of our residents and the San Antonio community, fulfilling our mission of providing quality, affordable housing and building sustainable, thriving communities.