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Bham entities to team on Smart Neighborhood plan for affordable housing

Bham entities to team on Smart Neighborhood plan for affordable housing

By Hanno van der Bijl

November 15, 2019

Several local entities are partnering on a project to bring affordable “smart” housing developments to the Magic City.

The Housing Authority of the Birmingham District and the city of Birmingham are teaming up with Alabama Power and local builders to launch Smart Neighborhood, an initiative to provide energy efficiency and home automation upgrades to the construction process in a bid to make energy usage more affordable for low-income families and seniors.

“This is a great partnership with Alabama Power in an effort to provide energy efficient, cutting-edge amenities for families who seek affordable housing,” said Michael LundyHABD president and CEO. “HABD looks forward to strengthening this partnership in the future to incorporate similar technology throughout our portfolio. We're beyond excited that affordable housing residents will now have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of greener living thanks to the Smart Neighborhood initiative.”

The project will start out with 200 new smart homes in Birmingham to be built over the next three years beginning in 2020. One of the projects will be located in Woodlawn.

“We’re very excited to join forces with the Housing Authority, Alabama Power and local entities for this vital project,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Neighborhood revitalization has been a cornerstone of my administration and these energy-efficient upgrades are key to fulfilling that promise. Every resident of our 99 neighborhoods deserves to experience this life-changing technology and I’m thrilled that we are making strides to provide them.”

Alabama Power will be using findings from its research and demonstration Smart Neighborhood at Reynolds Landing in Hoover to provide local builders with expertise on energy-saving measures and tech installations during the homes’ construction.

“We are excited to continue our internationally-recognized Smart Neighborhood initiative with great partners in the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District and the city of Birmingham,” said Ralph Williams, the area manager at Alabama Power’s Birmingham division. “By applying our knowledge to the new affordable housing developments, these homes will provide residents greater efficiency and the ability to easily manage features through smart devices.”

The homes will be designed with unique energy upgrades, such as high-efficiency heat pumps, hybrid water heaters, LED lighting, smart thermostats and doorbell cameras and smart sensors, which are calculated to measure 15% more efficient than current state building codes.

The Alabama utility launched its Smart Neighborhood initiative two years ago in an effort to provide energy solutions for customers. It went on to launch the Smart Neighborhood Builder Program the following year. Three new neighborhoods are currently under construction in Alabama, according to information from HABD.

The lack of affordable housing has been identified as a national issue, but Birmingham developers are looking to fill the gap with various projects. Ed Ticheli is redeveloping the American Life building for affordable housing by utilizing historic federal and state tax credits as well as an Opportunity Zone fund, and The Dobbins Group recently added a workforce housing division that is operating throughout the Southeast.

This article originally appeared in the Birmingham Business Journal.

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