Building Affordable, Sustainable Housing
by Susan Post
Homeport’s mission is to create and preserve healthy, stable and affordable communities throughout Central Ohio. Homeport not only builds the sustainable housing to make this mission a reality, but provides the educational resources to build thriving communities as well.
“We are an education provider – we are truly committed to holistic health and wellness for people,” says Leah Evans, Director of Homeport Home Ownership.
Homeport has single-family rental homes with lease-to-purchase options, as well as traditional multi-unit apartment homes. The affordable single-family homes that Homeport develops for sale, however, are a key component in its mission to create healthy communities that follow sustainable, green principles.
Homeport sells primarily to first-time homebuyers at a mix of income levels. Their housing development is concentrated in the King-Lincoln District just east of downtown Columbus, with additional single-family development throughout Central Ohio. Homeport Sales Manager Angela Printup says it is an area that is drawing attention from a variety of buyers, including young professional businesspeople, families, married couples and singles.
When a buyer purchases a property with the help of the organization, they know they are investing in an energy-efficient, environmentally conscious home.
“We build with AWARE standards in mind,” said Printup. The standards were developed through a partnership between Franklin County and the City of Columbus as the performance standard for the construction and renovation of federally-funded residential projects. AWARE means:
Homeport has incorporated numerous features into their homes that create a community of sustainable housing.
From the ground up, poured concrete basements provide better insulation. The whole structure of the house is created to be air-tight, with good circulation. Inside air stays in and outside air stays out.
“In all of our homes we have ceiling fans throughout…to help with the air quality,” Printup said.
Homeport uses energy efficient systems, including 96 percent efficient furnaces to heat the homes, and energy-rated appliances like ranges, microwaves, dishwashers and refrigerators. To finish the houses, Homeport chooses low-VOC (volatile organic compound) emitting paints and carpets to help improve the home’s indoor air quality.
“We use water systems that conserve water flow,” said Homeport Project Manager Emily Moser. Hot water on demand systems provide a plentiful, continuous flow of hot water while also conserving water overall.
“These are all the features that we put into any house that we build,” Moser says.
In 2013, Homeport received a grant from the City of Columbus to build homes with additional green features, including; solar panels, rain barrels, dual-flush toilets and tankless water heaters. The organization is completing the sale on the last of these 10 custom homes that they estimate will cost residents less than $1,000 per year in utilities.
Homeport is committed to being a green organization.
“We really feel like it’s the responsible thing to do as the developer, and it really contributes to the long-term success of our homebuyers,” Moser said.
Homeport is also contributing to the success of their homebuyers by providing free educational resources about the entire process. The learning and engagement department provides direct one-on-one counseling, homebuyer education, home maintenance classes and foreclosure prevention information. Buyers can make smart, informed decisions on everything from purchasing to maintaining their home with the help of the organization.
Homeport is building something unparalleled in the King-Lincoln District.
“I think this type of energy-efficient housing development is unique, particularly in urban revitalization,” Evans said. “As an industry, the building community is recognizing the value of this type of development,” Printup said, but finds their environmentally friendly standards typically are reserved for suburban developments. But Homeport employees are staying vocal about their mission and how their projects are a model of successful green homebuilding.
For more information, visit HomeportOhio.org.
Susan Post is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus. She enjoys writing about her city and the people and places that make it special. Contact her at Susan.Post.firstname.lastname@example.org.