Foundation Communities is a 25 year old non profit affordable housing developer based in Austin, TX whose mission goes far beyond standard practices. Every development is designed to be integrated into the wider community and provides a range of services to ensure that ‘families can succeed’. FC positions education and healthy living at the core of their developments. They have made learning centers part of every multi-family developments providing day care facilities, after school activities as well as adult classes and community workshops providing information healthier home cleaning and building maintenance practices. Notions of health here include access to well designed housing, easy access to transportation and a longterm commitment to designing healthier interiors. The Learning Centers are at the center of each housing development and are primarily used by children who are most vulnerable to the impact of their environment.
Green building strategies have been used as a baseline approach for Foundation Communities development. They have pursued the Enterprise Green Communities certification since its inception in 2003, and continue to pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum criteria for all buildings. They are also exploring new standards, including the Living Building Challenge (LBC), a performance standard that includes a commitment to using healthier materials. They are using the Learning Center building as a pilot to test healthier building products using this certification. The learnings from such an endeavor can potentially be scaled up and incorporated in their future housing developments.
In order to ensure ongoing interior air quality and the functioning of the integrated green initiatives into the occupancy phase of their development, FC reaches out to the maintenance team and residents by providing workshops with a focus on energy efficiency practices, on-site recycling, and community gardening. Their dedication to health, financial stability and green education encourages residents to conserve energy, use homemade cleaning products, and consider less toxic interior furnishings, to maintain indoor air quality.