AHDC Community Wellness Series: Green growth with transit-centered development and EarthCraft
Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (AHDC) understands that housing is a fundamental part of promoting Alexandria’s community health. Our goal is to make sure that our residents not only have quality and affordable housing options, but that our properties afford access to and build capacity for wellness in the City. We’ll be talking about AHDC’s commitment to community wellness in the next few weeks, both where we are now and where are going.
Green development as a priority
AHDC is committed to green development as a part of our VISION 2020 strategic plan. We do this out of respect for our environment and for the health and well-being of all those who live within our properties. Here, we focus on two areas of our development goals that improve the environment and well-being of AHDC residents; transit aware development and EarthCraft certification.
- Transit connected properties
AHDC properties are all located in places that provide proximity to transit, which allows our residents greater access to the economic opportunities of Alexandria and our region while encouraging green movement and fuel-cost savings. Most AHDC properties are near to a Metrorail station in addition to bus lines – the Arbelo, Lacy Court, and the upcoming North Henry Apartments/Carpenter’s Shelter redevelopment are all under a mile away from Braddock Road station, while Longview Terrace is a mile from King Street Station. The Station at Potomac Yards sits close to the Metroway bus line and all the proposed sites for the Potomac Yard Metrorail station, while the Gateway at King and Beauregard is located at a planned bus rapid transit hub for the city’s “West End Transitway” project.
We are proud of our transit connectivity because it helps keep our environment clean. According to the American Public Transit Association (APTA), households near public transit drive an average of 4,400 miles less per year than households with no access, which reduces our collective carbon footprint. A single person switching a 20-mile round trip car commute to transit can reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 4,800 pounds/year, which is more effective than winterizing a thermostat, replacing an old refrigerator, and replacing outdated lightbulbs – combined.
Aside from the green implications, transit access allows our residents greater mobility around the region, which widens the economic opportunities they can pursue without being reliant upon a car. The APTA also notes that a family that can use transit to downsize to one car saves, on average, $9,823 a year. For many families and individuals, the transit system may be their only opportunity for moving through the region.
Finally, increasing transportation use reduces traffic congestion, from which we all benefit – check out this image from the International Sustainability Institute to see what that looks like (click if the image does not move): 
- EarthCraft for healthy homes
AHDC builds properties with EarthCraft certification as a goal to be sure that new buildings use green materials and encourage health and wellness for those living inside them. EarthCraft certifications for multi-family housing are comprehensive, including scores on a wide range of items such as the inclusion of Energy Star appliances, use of locally sourced and recycled building materials, low-flow water fixtures, and more. Points towards certification can also be awarded for quality of life features such as community gardens and bike storage, both of which are included in upcoming AHDC projects. The certification process for EarthCraft ensures quality and consistency: A points-based worksheet is used to determine certification eligibility, confirmed by an in-person review from a technical advisor.
Additionally, EarthCraft is headquartered in Atlanta and maintains a unique focus on the southeast United States. Our region, with humid summers, cold winters, and Atlantic Ocean proximity, has different requirements for longevity and sustainability than the rest of the United States. By focusing on the southeast, EarthCraft certification means that whatever we build is right for our local context.
AHDC is proud to commit to green solutions with every property that we own, as it improves the lives of our residents and Alexandrians at large. Affordable solutions can also be green solutions, and AHDC is determined to protect our environment in whatever ways we can while also providing quality homes for our residents.
 The Benefits of Public Transportation, https://www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/documents/greenhouse_brochure.pdf
 APTA Media Center: Public Transportation Benefits http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/ptbenefits/Pages/default.aspx
 International Sustainability Institute http://www.i-sustain.com/old/CommuterToolkit.html