5th annual New Gravity housing conference

5th annual New Gravity housing conference

Passive House Accelerator is partnering with Green Building United for the 5th annual New Gravity housing conference: 2021 New Gravity, Accelerated Edition. New Gravity is focused on discussing and promoting policies and practices that support high-performance affordable housing. This year will feature four virtual interactive sessions ranging from technical insight on projects to broader market transformation discussions, and participants will be joining across the globe! 

Keynote speaker Dr. Kwesi Daniels, Head of Architecture at Tuskegee University, has a range of experience in affordable housing, historic preservation, architecture, sustainability management, and urban geography. He previously served as the Green Homes Coordinator for the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. Within this capacity, he managed the “greening” of over 43 multifamily buildings consisting of over 4,000 affordable housing units throughout the state. This work consisted of implementing renewable energy programs, energy efficiency retrofits, energy benchmarking, and green finance products, which developers could use to improve the sustainable performance of the properties. His experiences there provided the foundation upon which he does his current work. Stay tuned for updates on additional sessions. 

Wednesday, July 21 and Thursday, July 22 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm ET, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm PT. Attendance is Pay What You Wish (sliding scale fee). CEUs TBA.

Sessions and Speakers

Seattle City Light’s Exemplary Buildings Demonstration Program for Affordable Housing (Wednesday 8pm)

The Housing Development Consortium of Seattle King County and Seattle City Light collaborated to launch the Exemplary Buildings Program (EBP) in 2019 to address the interdependent housing affordability, equity, and climate crises facing the region.  The program was inspired by the successful market transformation of the Brussels Exemplary Building program which reduced building cost-premiums using performance standards and widely shared building practices. EBP’s multi-pronged goal is to create healthy homes, preserve the environment, produce extremely durable buildings, and balance first costs in a way that does not minimize overall units produced.   This session will host presentations from Julie Banerjee, Seattle City Light, who is one of the founding program visionaries and Juanita McLaughlin, Project Manager at Walsh Construction, the general contractor for one of the first Exemplary Building demonstration projects. They will discuss the process of developing a multi-stakeholder program, its objectives, and challenges and talk through the reality of designing an Exemplary Building by focusing on DESC’s Hobson Place Apartments which is seeking Passive House certification in early 2022.

Collaborating on Policy Opportunities for High-Performance Affordable Housing (Wednesday 8pm)

Join Katie Kaluzny from Illinois Green Alliance and Isaac Elnecave from PHIUS for discussion about Midwest collaboration to incentivize high performance affordable housing throughout state QAP processes. As part of the QAP policy working group for the Midwest Building Decarbonization Coalition, affordable housing developers, design leaders, policy experts and nonprofit staff are coming together on a regular basis to share best practices, collaborate on policy language, and shine and equity lens on the engagement process. Our panelists will lead a lively discussion on how to dig in on affordable housing policy in your neck of the woods.

How Public Policy Can Help Scale High-Performance Affordable Housing (Thursday 7pm)

Jurisdictions across the U.S. are increasingly realizing that public policy—in the form of building-specific legislation and building energy codes—is the key driver of widespread action to reduce carbon emissions, create more vibrant local economies, and enrich community health and resilience. What does this mean for affordable multifamily housing designers, developers, operators, and owners, as well as these properties’ surrounding communities? This session will provide attendees with a high-level overview of building-focused public policy development and implementation currently underway across the U.S., with a specific focus on strategies to support affordable multifamily housing.  We’ll examine emerging building performance standards for existing buildings and codes for new construction to better understand how these policies can be developed and implemented in tandem to support a shift to high-performing affordable multifamily housing. We’ll also discuss the need for governments to create complementary policies and programs to support building upgrades, from no/low-interest capital to turnkey technical assistance. We also look forward to a robust audience discussion on what the New Gravity community would most like public policymakers to know about how to further drive performance upgrades in affordable multifamily properties.

The Beauty of Justice: The Politics of Space and Aesthetics (Thursday 7pm)

How are space and aesthetics politicized in ways that shape our understanding of climate justice, the principle that actions to mitigate or adapt to the climate emergency should equitably distribute their benefits, redress existing inequities, and dismantle institutional racism? Because housing policies at every level of government have been instrumental in creating and sustaining institutionalized racism, the housing industry has a special responsibility to make climate justice a part of its standard processes thoroughly and quickly. In this session, two NYC-based designers who have built their practices on furthering climate justice share their perspectives on design politics that take us beyond “high-performance.”

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