Eco-Affordable Housing Program
From 2006-2009, Dovetail Partners delivered an Eco-Affordable Housing Program with the objective to discover solutions that promote and sustain resources and community. This program aimed at meeting and providing specific housing needs, particularly in rural areas. However, it was not just about the house. The objectives of this program were to create environmental awareness, to demonstrate the use of housing as an economic development tool for rural communities, and to facilitate the process of obtaining and constructing eco-affordable housing so that it may be replicated easily.
About the Program
We partnered with communities that identified a need for affordable housing and/or an interest in green building/sustainable design. The level of involvementvaried from project to project. In some instances, Dovetail acted as the developer. In others, Dovetail was involved as a consultant for green building practices and affordable housing options.
Projects & Partnerships
As most green building education is focused in the urban setting, most of our efforts targeted rural communities. Our work sought to provide builders and community leaders with new ideas that could easily be incorporated into future projects. New homeowners involved in the program experienced reduced utility costs, and gained knowledge about healthy energy-efficient living, good design principles, and options for sustainable living. They also gained access to local vendors and materials that they may not have previously known about.
Economic Development & Local Services
Several communities with which Dovetail partnered where home to manufacturing plants, forest-based businesses, and other industries that were under utilized. In addition to fostering development of eco-affordable housing, the Dovetail program sought to connect communities and their goods via the construction process, and establish new avenues of income (or strengthen current ones). Dovetail concentrated on the local community in order to realize this goal. When building an eco-affordable housing project, local materials and vendors took priority over anything non-local. We found that this was generally a good choice environmentally, and that this encouraged future projects for the area to be done using local resources as well. As noted, Dovetail's work helped to uncover local options and resources that may not have been apparent before.
A big part of making a house both comfortable and affordable to live in is energy efficiency. Dovetail provided design assistance to communities in order to help them identify energy-efficient strategies as part of an integrated design approach. These energy-efficient strategies were modeled after programs already in operation by local utilities (e.g., Xcel Energy) and Energy Star. Design assistance included construction monitoring and commissioning upon building completion. Furthermore, Dovetail collaborated with a range of local and regionall experts during design processes prior to the development phase of a project in order to provide energy efficient designs.
Dovetail's Eco-Affordable Housing Program received support from the McKnight Foundation, Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation, Otto Bremer Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Blandin Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.