News & Events

NeighborWorks Boise Goes for Green Designation

06/25/15 at 09:05 AM by Jillian Hanes

If you take a poll among NeighborWorks Boise (NWBoise) staff members asking their favorite recurring meeting, you’ll get a resounding response of the “Green Meeting.”  What makes this meeting so special?  When we’re not getting chocolate and caramels thrown at us for participating or taking breaks to clean up the Greenbelt, we get to take fun, informative quizzes with questions like, Which household appliance uses more electrical watts: A vacuum or a blow dryer?  A ceiling fan or a portable fan? (See bottom of the page for quiz esults).  And of course the winners in our meetings receive green prizes. 

NWBoise has been working on incorporating green practices into all of our programs and operations for the past two years to become a green-designated NeighborWorks America® (NWA) organization.  While our list of green projects is still a work in progress, we submitted our application for this green designation last month – an exciting and rewarding feat for our nonprofit.

What Does It Mean to Be a NWA Green-Designated Organization?

NWBoise is a chartered member of our national affiliate, NeighborWorks America® – a network of over 240 community development organizations at work in more than 4,000 communities across the country.  This network has defined a list of Healthy and Sustainable Homes Principles that NeighborWorks organizations are encouraged to incorporate throughout all of their operations, and NWA is committed to helping us achieve these green guidelines.  When an organization accomplishes these goals in each of their program areas, they are permitted to apply to NWA for their green designation. NWA‘s goal is to have two-thirds of their network achieving this green designation by 2016.

Benefits of Achieving Green-Designation

There are several perks to becoming a NWA green designated organization – including financial assistance, mentoring opportunities, and technical resources.  With this designation, NWBoise would be eligible for an additional $10,000 grant, peer to peer learning opportunities with other NeighborWorks organizations, and technical tools that would help us track and manage our green program more effectively.

Milestones in the NWBoise Green Program

NWBoise is proud to demonstrate our commitment to integrating green practices through ongoing efforts in our programs and operations, including:

  • Operational: Implementing green practices within the office through use of appliances, recycling requirements and regularly-scheduled training
  • Homebuyer Education and Counseling: Incorporating green practices and suggestions into presentations and handouts
  • Acquisition/Rehabilitation of Single Family Homes: Developed and implemented green rehabilitation specifications into every home
  • Asset and Property Management: Implemented a utility tracking system that is regularly monitored; implemented a Green Operations and Maintenance Plan and a Green Capital Improvements Plan into ongoing property management operations for all four NWBoise multi-family communities
  • Resident Awareness: Provide green practices guidance and green cleaning supplies to new NWBoise tenants
  • Community Building and Engagement: Provide volunteer and leadership opportunities for NWBoise apartment residents, such as developing neighborhood gardens and coordinating  clean-up projects with local businesses and organizations
  • Single Family Development and Homebuilding: Building Energy Star Certified homes, using green practices such as HERS ratings, water conservation and innovative shared community spacing –within pocket neighborhoods in locations that minimize the environmental hazards that come with regular vehicle commuting

NWBoise CEO, Joe Swenson recognizes the importance of incorporating green practices into every aspect of the organization’s continuum of services.

“Our goal is to educate and inspire our neighbors to see the value of adopting more green practices into their lives, and reap the tangible rewards of living more responsibly.  With this education, more people are grasping the dual benefits in health and home,” Swenson states.

Other affordable housing organizations around the country are making the connection between health and housing too.  They are seeing the correlation between making green improvements to their properties and the improved physical and social health of their residents.  Increasing awareness and implementing green practices is helping neighbors capitalize on a better way of living.

NeighborWorks Boise is proud to embrace more ecologically-responsible housing solutions.  Beyond the lively recycling competitions, and enticing sweet treats for which our “Green Meetings” are known, there is deeper value.  The staff shares ways that we are personally implementing green practices into our own lives – educating and inspiring each other to raise our green standards both at work and home.  As our CEO likes to say, “It’s the right thing to do.”

For more information about NeighborWorks Boise’s green practices or ideas on how we could collaborate to adopt more of these practices throughout our programs and services, contact Rita at 258-6227 or

Answer to quiz questions above: Blow dryer (1,538 watts) and Portable Fan (100 watts)

Image Resources: NeighborWorks Green Organizations Application Q&A PowerPoint Presentation. April 25, 2013

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