"Why is healthy, affordable housing so hard?" A conversation feat. Gina Ciganik, Healthy Building Network
Play • 48 min

Minnesota is working hard to create more affordable housing. But if we build structures that are not super-efficient, residents will be saddled with high energy bills—and we will miss an opportunity to improve our built environment, a top source of carbon emissions in the state. Now more than ever the topic of affordable housing has become even more critical.

In July 2020, Fresh Energy hosted conversations with Minnesota thought leaders and Fresh Energy staff about how super-efficient buildings can become the new normal in equitable affordable housing. This is the second in the four-part series featuring a discussion with Gina Ciganik, Chief Executive Officer of the Healthy Building Network.

With the increased attention on affordable housing in this current crisis, we know that the conversation has only just begun and it’s crucial that energy efficiency be part of the equation. We must build new affordable housing that is so energy efficient it can be heated and cooled with small amounts of renewable electricity. It makes economic sense, it improves indoor air quality, and it also dramatically reduces carbon emissions.

We have the know-how to build super-efficient housing that is affordable over the long term. Why isn’t all new housing built that way, and how can we do better? Fresh Energy is bringing people together from diverse areas of the affordable housing arena to explore this issue.

Thank you to Stoel Rives LLP for sponsoring this event.

Meet the Speakers

Gina Ciganik is the Chief Executive Officer of the Healthy Building Network. In her previous role at HBN she established and led the HomeFree initiative, an expansion of HBN’s healthy materials work into the affordable housing sector. Prior to HBN, she was Vice President of Housing Development at a Minneapolis-St. Paul area affordable housing development organization, where she spent two decades creating thousands of healthy, affordable homes, including The Rose, a 90-unit apartment building that set a new national standard for healthy materials.

As Director of Energy Access and Equity, Ben directs Fresh Energy’s work to advance equitable outcomes across Minnesota’s energy system, and also supports the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. He joined Fresh Energy as a Policy Associate in May 2015. Ben’s previous experience includes legal clerkships with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Honeywell International, and internships with Governor Mark Dayton and Senator John Marty. Ben holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Minnesota and a Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law. He is a member of the Minnesota Bar.

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