Low Income Housing Tax Credits & Sustainable Development in Massachusetts, 2018

The 2018 Massachusetts Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) includes threshold requirements that will help projects achieve sustainable developments. The Plan also awards projects that use energy conservation measures and systems that promote clean energy.

Green and Sustainable Communities

The 2018-2019 Qualified Allocation Plan reflects the ten sustainable development principles that have been in effect in Massachusetts since 2007. These ten principles are a part of the threshold evaluation for tax credit applications:

1. Concentrate Development and Mix Uses. Support the revitalization of city and town centers and neighborhoods by promoting development that is compact, conserves land, protects historic resources, and integrates uses. Encourage remediation and reuse of existing sites, structures, and infrastructure rather than new construction in undeveloped areas. Create pedestrian friendly districts and neighborhoods that mix commercial, civic, cultural, educational, and recreational activities with open spaces and homes.

2. Advance Equity. Promote equitable sharing of the benefits and burdens of development. Provide technical and strategic support for inclusive community planning and decision making to ensure social, economic, and environmental justice. Ensure that the interests of future generations are not compromised by today's decisions.

3. Make Efficient Decisions. Make regulatory and permitting processes for development clear, predictable, coordinated, and timely in accordance with smart growth and environmental stewardship.

4. Protect Land and Ecosystems. Protect and restore environmentally sensitive lands, natural resources, agricultural lands, critical habitats, wetlands and water resources, and cultural and historic landscapes. Increase the quantity, quality and accessibility of open spaces and recreational opportunities.

5. Use Natural Resources Wisely. Construct and promote developments, buildings, and infrastructure that conserve natural resources by reducing waste and pollution through efficient use of land, energy, water, and materials.

6. Expand Housing Opportunities. Support the construction and rehabilitation of homes to meet the needs of people of all abilities, income levels, and household types. Build homes near jobs, transit, and where services are available. Foster the development of housing, particularly multifamily and smaller single-family homes, in a way that is compatible with a community's character and vision and with providing new housing choices for people of all means.

7. Provide Transportation Choice. Maintain and expand transportation options that maximize mobility, reduce congestion, conserve fuel and improve air quality. Prioritize rail, bus, boat, rapid and surface transit, shared-vehicle and shared-ride services, bicycling, and walking. Invest strategically in existing and new passenger and freight transportation infrastructure that supports sound economic development consistent with smart growth objectives.

8. Increase Job and Business Opportunities. Attract businesses and jobs to locations near housing, infrastructure, and transportation options. Promote economic development in industry clusters. Expand access to education, training, and entrepreneurial opportunities. Support the growth of local businesses, including sustainable natural resource-based businesses, such as agriculture, forestry, clean energy technology, and fisheries.

9. Promote Clean Energy. Maximize energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities. Support energy conservation strategies, local clean power generation, distributed generation technologies, and innovative industries. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and consumption of fossil fuels.

10. Plan Regionally. Support the development and implementation of local and regional, state and interstate plans that have broad public support and are consistent with these principles. Foster development projects, land and water conservation, transportation and housing that have a regional or multi-community benefit. Consider the long-term costs and benefits to the Commonwealth.

Up to 20 points can be awarded to applications for design elements, including:

  • Whether the site layout and site design adequately address environmental issues; parking needs; rainwater management; appropriate open space requirements; outdoor improvements appropriate for the target population, visitability, etc.;
  •  Whether the owner/developer has incorporated energy conservation measures that exceed those required by the Building Code, and whether the project complies with energy efficient building envelope guidelines such as EPA’s Energy Star standards, for appliance and light fixture selection as well as air sealing and insulation measures, which will result in both greater comfort and operating cost efficiencies;
  • Whether the owner/developer has incorporated material selection consistent with promoting a healthful interior environmental quality;
  •  Whether the owner/developer has incorporated mechanical ventilation measures to control humidity and promote good indoor air quality;

Massachusetts provides additional point incentives for green and sustainable communities awarding up to 26 points in this category for projects that meet the following design criteria:

·         Energy Efficient Envelope Design—5 Points Maximum

DHCD will award up to five points to projects where the exterior envelope has been insulated beyond requirements of the base Building Code or the stretch code in communities where adopted, achieving values acceptable to the Department.

·         Efficient Building Systems—5 Points Maximum

DHCD will award up to five points to projects that include the following in their plans and specifications:

-          Installation of boilers with an efficiency of 95% or more, or furnaces with an efficiency of 90% or more. Install controls and heat distribution systems that allow operation of the boiler or furnace at peak efficiency.

-          Installation of thermostats with an upper limit of 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

-          Installation of high efficiency domestic hot water system.

-          No central air-conditioning systems unless very high efficiency. If local AC units are installed, electricity must be individually metered.

-          Where applicable, provision of automatic lighting controls controlled by occupancy and/or lighting conditions.

-          Installation of water conservation measures beyond those required by building code including both domestic water system components (low/no water-use appliances and fixtures) as well as water recapturing systems (rainwater for irrigations, gray water recycling systems, etc.)

Healthy Indoor Air Quality—4 Points Maximum

Site Design—4 Points Maximum


DHCD will award up to four points to projects that include the following in the plans and specifications:

-          Where possible, orientation of buildings and structures to maximize energy efficiency and thermal performance. Consideration of building proportions as well as solar, wind, vegetation and other factors.

-          Installation of systems for the control of roof/site rainwater via groundwater recharge and/or controlled release into municipal storm sewer systems.

-          Use of native landscape plants that are drought tolerant. Avoidance of plants that are on the Massachusetts Invasive Species list. Use of native ground-cover plants in lieu of grass where appropriate. Preservation of existing trees where possible.

-          Minimization of light pollution of the night sky by avoiding over-lighting outdoor spaces and by directing lighting toward the ground plane.

-          Planting of fast-growing deciduous trees along the south side of the buildings and paved surfaces to provide summer shade.

-          Installation of covered bike racks.

Renewable Energy—2 Points Maximum


DHCD will award up to two points to project that include any of the following in the plans and specifications:

-          Wind energy

-          Stationary fuel cells

-          Hydro-electric power

-          Solar Photovoltaics

-          Solar thermal collectors (hot water)

-          Landfill gas

-          Bio diesel


Contributed By: 
National Housing Trust

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