The public housing industry is constantly changing. A new administration means a new regulatory environment and new guidelines that will shape the way the building industry and energy services companies help cities improve public housing. Mary Fox, director of public housing at Johnson Controls, shares insights into some of these changes and how the industry will adapt to meet these guidelines.
Q: Welcome to a world where everything is smart, safe, comfortable and sustainable. What does this vision mean for the public housing industry?
MARY FOX: In the public housing industry, it means we can provide solutions that ensure resident comfort and safety, and an environment residents are proud to call home. It also means we need to provide economically viable and sustainable solutions that meet budgetary and regulatory requirements set by HUD. Because our Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) solutions are self-funding, we need to ensure the most appropriate products are chosen to eliminate utility waste and sustain resident expectations and comfort levels. Choosing the right products and implementing the most applicable solutions also help increase the housing authority’s marketability.
Q: What does a “smart” public housing residence look like?
MF: A smart residence enables the comfort, safety and convenience of residents and staff. It also means we have implemented infrastructure upgrades that consume less water, electricity and natural gas while providing the level of “livability” residents expect and enjoy. Residents also see dramatic reductions in their utility bills.
Q: Why is comfort critical in public housing?
MF: Comfort is critical to hundreds, if not thousands, of residents in a housing development. Additionally, staff members from the housing authority expect a safe and comfortable work environment. Working and living with outdated and less-than-efficient systems is inefficient and can negatively affect a healthy lifestyle. For example, poor building ventilation and air circulation can agitate existing medical conditions. Poor lighting can lead to worksite accidents and does little to eliminate potential criminal activity. Implementing a series of upgrades designed to improve building efficiency and the performance infrastructure, drive down utility costs and improve safety levels is a win-win for all involved.
Q: In addition to comfort, have sustainability and “green” become expectations in public housing environments?
MF: Absolutely! The impact of green initiatives on the health and well-being of residents and the bottom line is an increasingly popular solution. For instance, public housing environments that have included solar energy initiatives in their overall solution have become less dependent on local utility companies for electricity. This, in turn, has decreased utility costs for the authority and residents. Other sustainability best practices include the installation of low-flow toilets and faucet aerators, which significantly reduce water usage and help drive down utility costs.
Q: With the Johnson Controls and Tyco merger, the new company now has one of the most comprehensive security portfolios. What most excites you around safety and security?
MF: Because safety is a prominent issue at the public housing level, we will see many instances moving forward in which Tyco offerings can be included when presenting solutions to the public housing industry that require additional fire and security measures. While we have been quite proficient at diagnosing the need for and introducing safety and security solutions in the past, our access to a robust line of solutions designed specifically for public housing environments will enhance our already elevated level of credibility with clients.
Mary Fox, Director, Public Housing, North America
Mary joined Johnson Controls in 2007 as national vertical market director, public housing. With more than 30 years in the energy industry, Mary has extensive experience in the design, engineering, procurement, construction, operations, measurement and verification, and management of energy performance contracts in the affordable housing sector.
Want to find out more? Ask our expert at 888-211-9008 or johnsoncontrols.com/publichousing