Bostic on Green Finance: Investing in Sustainable Outcomes

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has posted a brief, informative interview with Raphael Bostic, HUD Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research, on energy-efficient housing and the role of public and private sector finance. The interview stems from Bostic’s keynote address offered at the the March 2011 Tulane University/Atlanta Fed conference, Strengthening the Green Foundation: Research and Policy Directions for Development and Finance

The interview exemplifies HUD’s commitment to leverage both public and private monies, as well as employ market solutions in revitalizing and developing public housing, something we saw a lot of out of HUD with last year’s PETRA proposal that met both praise and outcry.

In the case of greening public housing, Bostic said, investor support is essential:

HUD has a large portfolio of public housing and being able to convert that into a green portfolio would be quite useful to us because our building performance isn’t the best in the world and there’s definitely room for improvement there.

He went on to say that if there’s going to be a market for green public housing, private capital will be necessary and that HUD would have to keep an eye on property values in getting a green building initiative to scale.

It’s really important that we think about these green investments as business investments. We’ve got to have an investment strategy that is sustainable, that pays for itself, so that this isn’t just about charity. In the affordable housing context in particular, we need to think hard about, “what are the features that actually pay for themselves in real ways and which ones might seem sexy but don’t give us the same sort of business payback?”

For additional reading, see the Shelterforce interview with Bostic in the fall 2010 issue.

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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