Residential Research Quarterly: September 2021

In this third quarterly review of residential green building research for 2021, we highlight several reports on the topics of green bonds, human health and buildings, green neighborhoods, enhancements for utilities, sustainability in the real estate market, and the intersection of energy efficiency and occupant health.

2020 Green Bond Impact Report | Fannie Mae

The largest issuer of green bonds in the world, Fannie Mae, released a report examining the growth and impact of its green bond business over the past year. In 2020, the company issued around $13 billion of multifamily green mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and nearly $94 billion in single-family green MBS. From its first bond in 2012 through the end of 2020, Fannie has issued nearly $88 billion in green bond issuances. The goal of green bonds is to support the growth of an active, global green housing market that supports more affordable and sustainable communities and reduces the environmental impact of the housing sector. Fannie Mae estimates that, through its program, it has avoided the emission of around 634,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and saved around 9.5 billion kBTus of energy.

For more on Fannie Mae’s green bond program, visit its website. Learn more about LEED and multifamily green building financing in USGBC's policy brief.

2020 Moving Forward Report | National Institute of Building Sciences

Released by the National Institute of Building Sciences, this report discusses how buildings can protect and promote public health by providing recommendations for President Biden and policymakers on three components of healthy buildings: indoor environmental quality, the importance of design in promoting health, and promoting knowledge transfer between building owners and public health officials. Among various items, the report recommends that Congress and several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, identify and enact policies that promote health indoor air quality. The report mentions LEED as a building system that provides pathways and tools for developing and maintaining healthy buildings.

Learn more about buildings and health in USGBC’s Research Anthology of Health-Promoting Building Strategies, and for more on how LEED addresses public health, read our guides and case studies.

Green and Thriving Neighbourhoods Guidebook | Arup and C40

This guidebook, developed by Arup and C40, provides cities, national governments, private sector developers, residents and communities with frameworks to achieve more people-centered neighborhoods. The guide examines two pillars at the center of a thriving, green neighborhood, and 10 approaches that address them. The two pillars are "green," defined as net zero emissions, and "thriving," defined as resilient, people-centered places. Green buildings and energy are among the 10 approaches provided in the guide, which states that a green and thriving neighborhood must “minimize building emissions by adopting passive design principles” and invest in “high-efficiency neighborhood-wide energy infrastructure.”

For information on how LEED addresses energy efficiency goals, see USGBC’s policy brief. Learn about how LEED approaches sustainability on the neighborhood scale and the community scales as well.

An Overview of Affordable Multifamily Programs: Best Practices and Context for Utilities | American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Developed by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, this brief examines best practices that utilities can follow to provide affordable energy efficiency services to multifamily customers. The report also highlights three existing model programs—individual utility, jointly administered and utility-funded statewide—and discusses the state and local context in which each model works most effectively. The brief found that affordable multifamily energy efficiency programs can achieve significant energy savings, which translates into reduced costs for residents.

Interested in learning about USGBC’s certification program for electricity infrastructure? Check out the PEER website.

2021 REALTORS and Sustainability Report | National Association of Realtors

The National Association of Realtors surveyed its members on sustainability issues facing the real estate industry, and the results are revealed in this new report. According to the survey, 55% of respondents said their clients were at least “somewhat interested” in sustainability. The report also found that 36% of respondents said that their MLS had green data fields, and respondents typically used the green data fields to promote green features and energy information.

Find out how LEED supports sustainability goals in homes in the real estate industry.

Integrating Health and Energy Efficiency in Multi-Family Buildings | U.S. Department of Energy

Prepared by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for the U.S. Department of Energy, this report examines best practices in energy efficiency measures in multifamily buildings and how they impact residential health. PNNL found that energy efficiency upgrades could improve the efficiency of U.S. multifamily buildings by up to 30%, which could save up to $3.4 billion in utility costs. PNNL also reported that energy-efficient lighting not only reduces energy consumption, but also can improve resident satisfaction with the living space and may help regulate sleep cycles.

Learn more about how LEED supports occupant health.

If you would like to suggest studies or reports for us to highlight in the future, please contact Alysson Blackwelder.

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