October 21, 2009 / 2:42 PM / 8 years ago

Enterprise to raise $4 billion for green housing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Enterprise, a U.S. nonprofit group, said on Wednesday it hopes to raise $4 billion over the next five years to make housing for low-income people more energy efficient.

The effort, which builds on the group's previous commitments, will result in the creation, preservation or retrofit of 75,000 green homes and community and commercial buildings, it said.

Enterprise, which also has a private branch that provides capital for housing, will lend to existing multifamily building owners for energy and water reduction capital purchases and healthy living environment improvements. Money will also be dedicated to design new affordable housing.

Doris Koo, Enterprise's chief executive, said green investments in affordable housing can yield big returns.

"For a small premium on the construction side, about 2 percent on the front end, you are seeing 20 to 30 percent savings on the energy," she said in an interview.

Affordable apartment buildings are often older and have more leaks, so energy is often wasted more in that type of housing than in homes for people with more money.

In addition problems with the buildings can often make asthma and other diseases worse for residents.

Enterprise takes steps to reduce asthma in low-income housing, such as removing carpets and other materials that emit chemicals and improving pest management. Koo said these steps have greatly reduced reported asthma attacks in children.

Enterprise announced the commitment at the Newseum in Washington. Shaun Donovan, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing, said in a release ahead of the meeting that President Barack Obama "joins me in thanking Enterprise for its leadership in showing that all American families can and must have the opportunity to live in healthy homes that reduce long-term medical costs and help curb the devastating effects of climate change."

Groups and companies that have pledged to help in the fund raising include the Kresge Foundation, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, the Surdna Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation, The Kendeda Fund, The Oak Hill Fund and Wells Fargo.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by John Picinich

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