Truly Affordable Webinar Series

How can super-efficient buildings become the new normal in equitable, affordable housing?

July 9, 16, 23, 30, 2020 | 12:00-12:30pm
Fresh Energy
Event Description

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.

Join us Thursdays at noon in July for a 30-minute conversation with Minnesota thought leaders and Fresh Energy staff about how super-efficient buildings can become the new normal in equitable affordable housing. This Power Panel event was originally scheduled for April but for the safety of presenters and attendees was postponed and moved online to July.

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.

Who should attend: Community members, architects, developers, lenders, philanthropists, decision-leaders, health interests, practitioners, advocates, members of the public—everyone who cares about the future of affordable housing, and the built environment, in Minnesota.


July 9, 12-12:30 p.m.
Truly Affordable: How can all-electric affordable housing really work?

with Elizabeth Turner and Fresh Energy’s Margaret Cherne-Hendrick

July 16, 12-12:30 p.m.
Truly Affordable: What’s the connection between energy and housing stability?
with Mitra Jalali and Fresh Energy’s Janiece Watts

July 23, 12-12:30 p.m.
Truly Affordable: Why is healthy, affordable housing so hard?

with Gina Ciganik and Fresh Energy’s Ben Passer

July 30, 12-12:30 p.m.
Truly Affordable: How can cities lead?

with Kim Norton and Fresh Energy’s Ben Rabe and Justin Fay



Elizabeth Turner is an architect and founder of Precipitate, a firm that responds to the pressing social, economic, and ecological justice issues of today through deep listening and engagement, leading to holistic design at the intersection of architecture, research, policy, and education. As Passive House Consultant, Elizabeth pioneered pre-certification of the Hook & Ladder development—the first large multi-family project to PHIUS+2015 standards in Climate Zone 6A. This project is considered a “testing zone” for the industry and a model for super-efficient structures.


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 City Council. Her main priorities in office include addressing the affordable housing crisis, community-first public safety, action on climate, and building community wealth.


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.


Kim Norton has been the Mayor of Rochester since 2018 and represented the area in the Minnesota House of Representatives for 10 years. Kim won a 2016 Bush Fellowship, which allowed her to complete a master’s degree at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs focused on energy policy and leadership. She has a strong commitment to ensuring that Rochester’s Destination Medical Center and many other new developments are super-efficient and is partnering with more than 20 Minnesota cities on a policy to allow cities the option of adopting a standard that is more ambitious than the current state energy code.