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 Mitra Jalali, Saint Paul City Councilmember. It was recorded on July 16.
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
Mitra Jalali is the proud daughter of immigrants, a former classroom teacher, community organizer and policy aide who now represents Ward 4 on the St. Paul, Minn., City Council. Her main priorities in office include addressing the affordable housing crisis, community-first public safety, action on climate, and building community wealth.
Janiece Watts is a policy associate with Fresh Energy's Energy Access and Equity program. Janiece plays a key role that is working to advance equitable outcomes across Minnesota’s energy system. Her current projects include the Saint Paul Property-Dweller Property-Owner Energy Project, a unique, joint partnership with Community Stabilization Project, and collaborative work with environmental justice groups to improve air quality and reduce demand for oil through electrification of transportation. Janiece joined the Fresh Energy team in August 2018. Before joining Fresh Energy, Janiece worked as a community engagement manager for Eureka Recycling where she developed strategies on zero waste and environmental justice. She is an established organizer working for racial and environmental justice through outreach, events, community meetings, and political action in the Twin Cities for over ten years. She has a BA in Political Science and Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of Minnesota. Janiece is a board member of Headwaters Foundation for Justice and MN350. She loves food—from growing it in her garden to cooking and food cooking shows.
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