It’s no secret that the Bay Area is facing a serious affordability crisis. From San Jose to Santa Rosa, the cost of living has skyrocketed over the past few years – and at the same time, the growth that’s fueling this boom has brought the worst traffic congestion we’ve ever seen.
What we need are homes where housing and transportation costs are affordable for more people. The good news is, we’re seeing developers respond to this demand by building transit-oriented projects that save money by making it easier for people to walk, bike, and take public transportation.
That’s why we’re excited to be launching GreenTRIP Platinum Certification, a new badge of honor for housing developments that tackle this dual dilemma head-on, using the most cutting-edge strategies to reduce driving and keep costs lower for everyone.
Certification taken to a higher level
Since 2008, TransForm’s GreenTRIP Certification program has evaluated and consulted on nineteen innovative multi-family housing developments to help them meet our standards for excellent traffic reduction strategies.
By offering a higher tier of certification, we are excited to see even more ambitious efforts from developers to reduce traffic, eliminate excess parking, and curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Platinum Certification goes beyond standard GreenTRIP Certification by requiring developers to expand their traffic reduction strategies, working from a menu with over 20 different options. The standard GreenTRIP transit passes and carsharing options are still expected, but Platinum goes further. From bus shelter improvements to bike fix-it stations, every certified development can offer a comprehensive suite of amenities to tempt residents out of cars and onto transit, bike paths and sidewalks. And by including carsharing, residents still have that option when a car is truly needed.
Due to high demand, we are increasing the number of GreenTRIP certifications we will provide in 2015 to ten. Developers must apply by April 4 to be considered. In addition, thanks to support from the Knight Foundation, we are offering two free Platinum certifications to developers who offer the most cutting-edge development proposals in San Jose.
How can free bus passes make housing more affordable?
Building housing is expensive, especially when developers are required to include lots of parking that can cost as much as $50,000-$80,000 per space to construct. And car ownership is an expensive burden that can be lifted in neighborhoods with great public transportation.
So by locating a project near a transit station or hub, developers can provide incentives to use public transportation – like free or discounted bus passes – and amenities that make it easier to not own a car – like secure bike parking or on-site carsharing.
If residents drive less and own fewer cars, then the developer can build fewer parking spaces – as few as zero, in the case of Garden Village in Berkeley – and significantly lower their construction costs. This creates savings that can be passed on to residents through lower rents or home prices, inclusion of more affordable housing units, and/or investment in transit passes and other traffic reduction amenities.
It’s not just the economics that pencil out in this equation. If residents drive less, they create less pollution and traffic in their neighborhood, a benefit to everyone in the community. When people drive less they also reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, which helps curb climate change and protect our planet for the next generation. GreenTRIP Certification makes these benefits crystal clear, helping build community support for great projects that might otherwise face resistance from neighbors worried about traffic and other impacts.
Taking GreenTRIP to scale
GreenTRIP Platinum will recognize the cream of the low-traffic housing crop, but it’s only one part of our expanding initiative – including GreenTRIP Connect – to create better cities by creating better places to call home.
In GreenTRIP Connect, we’re combining research and modeling to create a powerful new tool that will let cities, developers, and community members everywhere determine the traffic, health, and economic impacts of implementing GreenTRIP strategies. GreenTRIP Connect will be an online, map-based tool that will spread these strategies more quickly throughout the Bay Area and share them across California.
With a matching grant offer from the Knight Foundation, we are seeking additional funds by May 2015 to start building the tool. Learn about how you can invest in more affordable, low-traffic development with GreenTRIP Connect.
Together, we can raise the bar – and lower our housing and transportation costs – to achieve a Bay Area where everyone has affordable, connected choices to call home.