Affordable green housing benefits people and the climate
When you think of a city or community’s sustainability plan, affordable green housing might not be the first thing that springs to mind. However, with the rapid renovation of urban neighborhoods across the country, the cost of living in those neighborhoods has also risen. More often than not, the shift in the look and feel of a space means that its original residents—often low-income individuals or people of color—are displaced as property values rise and housing is no longer affordable.
Housing equity affects both people and climate
Affordable green housing is gaining traction as an integral part of the climate solution plan in communities across the United States. Studies show that displacement is most intense in the nation’s largest cities. In fact, nearly 11% of city residents live in areas experiencing displacement. Unsettlingly, in the 50 largest metro areas, nearly 464,000 people with low incomes have been pushed out of gentrifying neighborhoods since 2000.
As more people are forced out of our cities, and climate change becomes a growing concern, leaders, planners and developers are looking for new ways to create equitable spaces, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote human health and address overwhelming utility burdens.
LEED supports affordable green housing
USGBC remains steadfast in its commitment to incorporating social equity into its mission and guiding principles. In the LEED rating system, equity refers to making sure all groups have equal access to opportunity to improve the quality of their lives, including economic, environmental and social priorities, while also providing a safe and healthy environment.
By addressing quality of life issues, health, infrastructure, equity, access, safety, resilience and much more, credits within the LEED for Cities and Communities rating systems work to support the continuous success, progress and higher quality of life for all of its residents, not just the wealthy.
When green housing is affordable, residents not only use less energy and save money, as shown in studies related to energy-efficient design and construction on low-income housing. Affordable green housing also means that people who otherwise would have been forced to leave the city due to cost, will not have to travel long distances to maintain access to their city amenities, transit, work opportunities and school.
- Learn more about how affordable green housing impacts the climate and social equity in three U.S. cities.
- Read about low-income housing tax credits and how U.S. states are embracing green building policies.
- Explore how an Albuquerque affordable housing project earned LEED Platinum.
- Find out how community solar programs help to equalize access to energy savings.