The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) has supported environmentally sustainable building practices for many years. Its Green Jobs Initiative formalizes that commitment, with a focus on investments in energy-efficient rehabilitation and retrofits of existing housing stock as well as financing of new construction that meets the energy-saving requirements of LEED or other similarly rigorous criteria. Workers' capital invested by the HIT, together with tax credits allocated by HIT’s subsidiary, Building America, are helping the Green Jobs Initiative grow. These investments are generating significant numbers of jobs for union construction workers while helping to make the built environment cleaner, healthier, and more resource-efficient.
The HIT recognizes that green building methods are important for the future of the multifamily sector. Sustainable design can reduce operating costs and produce savings that can be used to support future building improvements and maintain the affordability of newly built or rehabilitated housing. Yet studies show that the multifamily sector has not taken full advantage of these savings. Almost $3.4 billion of potential savings from multifamily energy retrofits go unrealized each year, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The HIT anticipates a strong demand in the coming decade for energy retrofits for affordable housing, including public housing developments, most of which are over 20 years old. Energy-saving retrofits can help ensure the viability of the nation’s much-needed affordable housing stock and stem the loss of low-income housing due to deterioration or conversion to market-rate residences.
The HIT’s Green Jobs Initiative supports the AFL-CIO’s commitment to the greening of America’s infrastructure. Energy-saving retrofit work represents a growing source of employment and training opportunities for union members at a time when construction unemployment remains high. The AFL-CIO is working with the Clinton Global Initiative and government agencies to promote commercial and public building energy retrofit projects that spur job creation. This effort has the potential to be a significant stimulus to the construction industry. The AFL-CIO has pledged to work with Taft-Hartley funds, public pension plans, and private investors to create financing mechanisms to boost investment and job creation in these retrofit projects.
The HIT financed its first LEED-certified building in 2001, a year after the U.S. Green Building Council established the LEED certification program as a nationally recognized benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. While improved energy efficiencies have long been achieved through HIT-financed rehabilitation projects, energy-saving retrofits of existing buildings have been part of its Green Jobs Initiative since 2010. Retrofit projects financed through the Green Jobs Initiative include public housing, HUD-assisted housing, and other older housing developments.
The goals and achievements of the HIT's Green Jobs Initiative are discussed in a special report published in spring 2012. To read the Green Jobs Initiative report, please follow this link.
Under its Green Jobs Initiative, the HIT has invested over $1.6 billion in 54 projects, including both energy-efficient retrofit and LEED-certified projects. Together with projects that received funding from HIT’s subsidiary, Building America, 61 projects represent over $3.95 billion of development, approximately 19,315 union construction jobs, and 22,465 housing units.