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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Going Solar: A Roadmap for Affordable Co-ops

Win-win. If you are a limited-equity co-op, you are exempt from the Climate Mobilization Act (Local Law 97), which requires many buildings to boost their energy efficiency and cut their carbon emissions. But going green can help you maintain affordability, and now there’s a new resource to help put you on this path.


The how-to’s. The roadmap is the Climate Action Pledge, which was created by the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) in conjunction with Solar One, a nonprofit that provides technical assistance to multifamily properties that are considering solar energy. Signers of the pledge agree to participate in at least one aspect in each of four categories: energy efficiency, training, neighborhood care and community engagement. The pledge comes with a comprehensive 32-page Resource Guidebook that offers a wealth of information on how co-ops with limited means can save money while helping save the planet. 


Steep hurdles. Limited-equity co-ops face very different challenges from market-rate properties. There are usually income limits for purchasers, caps on sale prices, flip taxes to replenish reserve funds, and boards often struggle as they strive to minimize maintenance increases and assessments. “There’s a recognition that affordable co-ops are struggling,” says Lawrence Haseley, a program manager at Solar One. “They need assistance making energy-efficiency upgrades to their buildings while maintaining affordability.” 


Extra savings. Solar energy makes a lot of sense for some of these co-ops, including HDFCs, because of tax abatements at the city level and incentives at the state level. “But one of the challenges is that even if there’s a champion on the board who knows they need to make upgrades, they may not know where to go,” Haseley says.


Lucia Santacruz, a project associate at UHAB, adds: “We’re hoping the Resource Guidebook will make it very simple for HDFCs to understand. Now they’ll know what’s out there and what they need to do.”

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