Monday, April 22, 2013

Flexing Green Muscles Earth Day and Every Day

NDS is a Neighborworks
America green designee
By Stacy Brown, Neighborhood Development Services Inc, director of asset management

Being a responsible steward of our environmental resources means looking at the variety of ways in which our homeownership and rental home work can reduce environmental harms and build the self-sufficiency of our people and buildings. Benefits of “going green” include lower utility costs for residents to a unique marketing asset for us as we compete for tenants and homebuyers.

Last December, NeighborWorks America named Neighborhood Development Services Inc (NDS), based in Ravenna, Ohio, as a NeighborWorks Green Organization designee. We are proud to be a part of this program and we hope what we learn can inspire others nationwide. Our green work spans weatherization and home repair to ecologically responsible design and materials for new buildings.  We are also branching into alternative energy as a way to raise revenue while helping the community and the environment.

For existing homes, we’ve found that weatherization protections pay off for all involved.  At our Lakeview 2 Apartments complex, we reduced energy 20 percent by installing Energy Star appliances, attic insulation, air sealing, heat pumps and high efficiency lighting and window fixtures. We also used faucet aerators, dual flush toilets, water efficient washers and landscaping to decrease water usage. The work has benefited not only NDS, but also Lakeview residents who now have lower utility costs.

NDS has also committed to incorporating environmental improvements and green maintenance. This means purchasing green materials and supplies when possible, installing rain barrels at all of its properties and creating recycling systems for all residents. Additionally, the maintenance staff is trained on purchasing, methodology and overall green maintenance.

Finally, we are working to take environmental sustainability beyond simply housing improvements. NDS is pursuing the opening and operation of a public compressed natural gas re-fueling site. This site responds to rising demand for cleaner fuel sources for their vehicles. It will dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions and allow local residents and businesses to take advantage of major fuel cost savings. Revenue earned from the site will provide NDS with a new source of funds to support its other mission-driven programs, which will benefit the communities in which we operate. While this project is still in its preliminary stages, NDS has met with local stakeholders to discuss the project and continues to seek funding to perform a formal feasibility study for this project.  Additionally, we are working toward gathering fuel commitments from local companies. These commitments are key to securing funding and partnerships related to this unique, triple bottom line project.

Together, all of us can find ways to use environmental resources more sustainably. We know our efforts are but one example and we look forward to learning about and implementing many new ideas in the years ahead.  To learn more, visit