Opportunity Start at Home (OSAH) campaign steering committee member Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released an issue brief in collaboration with other environmental groups exploring how housing justice and health equity in building decarbonization promote improved climate, housing, and health outcomes. Because nearly one-third of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S are released by buildings, building decarbonization – which involves replacing fossil fuel appliances and making energy efficiency modifications – can help reduce GHG emissions significantly. Even so, while building decarbonization efforts are essential to addressing climate change, they often fail to consider the intersections between decarbonization, health equity, and housing, thereby risking the perpetuation of existing health and housing disparities.
The brief reviews past discriminatory housing policies and practices that shaped current environmental inequities, highlights the evidence connecting poor housing quality and health disparities, and emphasizes the importance of centering the perspectives of the communities most adversely affected when developing building decarbonization policies. Doing so will support the formulation of policies that successfully slow climate change while simultaneously addressing longstanding health and housing disparities.
“Holistic building upgrades that are supported by government investment, center community leadership and engagement, and address affordability and health can both reduce climate emissions and significantly improve public health—with low income, Latino/a, and Black communities, manufactured home residents, renters, and others finally getting what they should have always been guaranteed: healthy and sustainable homes,” write the authors.
The brief is coauthored by the Building, Energy, Equity and Power Coalition (BEEP), a group of environmental justice organizations in California that represent and advocate on behalf of low-income people and communities of color and lead local equitable building decarbonization efforts in Los Angeles, the San Joaquin Valley, and the Bay Area.
Read the full brief here.