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Public housing authorities are striving to provide low-income families and individuals the amenities, efficiencies, resiliency and security smart buildings deliver. Getting there requires infrastructure and technology upgrades that will connect these buildings to the communities they serve.



The Housing Authority of the City of Kokomo relies heavily on federal funding to operate and maintain 550 units. Like many federally funded groups, the organization has been forced to do more with less. Even so, the authority invested $3.3 million in upgrades and repairs, including bath-to-shower conversions, lighting upgrades, new sliding doors, weatherization and other initiatives designed to improve energy efficiency and provide a more comfortable, safe and secure environment. And they did it without providing upfront capital.


In other communities, housing authorities are investing in pass cards for elderly residents that track when they enter or leave a building, as well as security cameras and alert systems that connect to emergency response teams. The goal is to take what we know about smart cities and create smart housing to better maintain building systems, improve communications, and support the well-being and safety of residents.


Achieving this goal requires planning, convening department representatives, and assessing the short- and long-term needs of facilities. It also requires funding. As federal funding shrinks, along with access to municipal leases and bonds, housing authorities are exploring alternative funding. Among them, contingent payment programs and energy performance contracts (EPC) provide a funding source and guarantee that facility upgrades will deliver specified savings over a fixed period of time. Another option, public private partnerships (P3), transfers the risk of design, construction, finance and operations to the private sector in exchange for guaranteed fixed monthly payment terms and service levels over a designated time period.


Using an EPC, Johnson Controls showed the City of Kokomo how energy and water savings could pay for performance infrastructure improvements to housing authority facilities. The performance contract guarantees $223,000 in annual energy savings with a payback term of 20 years. Additionally, the installation of new fixtures and the conversion of tubs to showers in one building produced water savings of $133,000 in just six months, and new lighting gives housing authority residents a greater sense of security.


Like other communities, the City of Kokomo is discovering the benefits EPCs offer. According to Kokomo Housing Authority CEO Deb Cook, “It’s an opportunity to save our capital fund for other projects and to improve the quality of life for our residents and our greater Kokomo community.”

Mary Fox Director Public Housing Image
Mary Fox, Director, Public Housing, North America

Mary joined Johnson Controls in 2007 as director of public housing. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the design, engineering, procurement, construction, operations, measurement and verification, and management of energy performance contracts in the affordable housing sector.

Contact us at 888-211-9008, and provide housing authority residents a greater sense of security and renewed connections with their community.


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