Residential Research Quarterly: December 2020

In this fourth quarterly review of residential green building research for 2020, we highlight several reports on the topics of residential energy efficiency and energy burdens, rental housing affordability, and the impact on real estate-related activity by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residential Energy Efficiency for Local Governments | U.S. Department of Energy

Developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), this resource guide is geared toward local governments to support the development and implementation of policies and programs for enhancing energy efficiency in homes. DOE details programs that have been implemented across the country that could be replicated in other communities, including adoption of effective residential building energy codes and standards, financial incentives for energy efficiency, and home energy labeling programs. Each of the strategies noted in the guide has the opportunity to support enhanced residential energy performance.

For information on how LEED supports high levels of energy performance, see our policy brief.

America at Home Follow-up Study | Dahlin Group and Strategic Solutions Alliance

This report is a follow-up from the original America at Home Study, released in April, which explored the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on homes and communities. The follow-up report, published in November, found a 50% increase in homeownership from survey participants who noted that COVID-19 had sped up their prepandemic moving plans. The study reported that current homeowners continue to make changes to their everyday life at home, including to their garages and carports (17% in April versus 26% in November) and upgrading their home technology (18% in April versus 29% in November). Community features have also increased in popularity since the original survey, with dog parks, small neighborhood parks, and health and wellness clinics rising in demand.

To find resources during the pandemic, please see our COVID-19 resources page.

America’s Rental Housing 2020 | Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

This annual report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University found that rental household growth has plateaued. Vacancy rates are at their lowest in decades, which has in turn increased rents faster than incomes can keep up. The study notes that state and local agencies are working diligently to expand the affordable housing supply, but with limited federal support. The report stresses the need for a comprehensive response from all levels of government to address the national rental affordability crisis.

For information on how green building practices and LEED support affordable housing, see our policy brief

How High are Household Energy Burdens? An Assessment of National and Metropolitan Energy Burdens across the U.S. | American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) examines residential energy affordability on national, regional and municipal scales in this report, published in September. Researchers analyzed how household energy burdens vary across specific groups based on income, housing type and age, tenure, race and ethnicity, and occupant age. ACEEE found that at all levels and across all metro areas, low-income and minority adult households had disproportionally higher energy burdens than the average household. The report finds weatherization to be a long-term strategy that can help ease the burden.

For a primer on what USGBC has been doing to advocate for high-quality and sustainable affordable housing supported by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, see our brief on Qualified Allocation Plans (QAPs).

Overcoming Challenges in Housing-Based Research | Enterprise Community Partners

This report by Enterprise Community Partners, the JPB Foundation and the National Center for Healthy Housing examines lessons learned from a longitudinal study of the impact of green building practices on the respiratory health of residents living in affordable housing. Key insights include creation of a strong team and project infrastructure needed for a comprehensive study, as well as pursuit of flexibility and creativity in adapting to implementation challenges with strong external support. For more, review the full report.

We’ll see you in 2021 with more of the best research on residential green building!

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

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