Residential Research Quarterly: March 2022

In this first quarterly review of residential green building research for 2022, we highlight several reports: best practices for building electrification, the current state of rental housing, the characteristics of homeowners in forbearance due to the pandemic, ways LEED certification benefits multifamily sales and how going green increases developer ROI.

Building Electrification: Programs and Best Practices | American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

This recent report from ACEEE seeks to provide a detailed overhead view of the state of building electrification in the United States. Using data from 42 building electrification programs across the country, the report brings together best practices by analyzing points like budgets, outreach strategies and participation levels. The report discovered that total annual spending for these programs had risen rapidly since 2020, with reported program budgets rising from a combined total of $108 million to $166 million. The researchers also found that air-source heat pumps accounted for the primary technology focus of 90% of studied programs, since space heating accounted for the largest fossil fuel energy use in single-family homes.

Centering Equity to Address Extreme Heat | Urban Institute

This report takes a look at the necessity of incorporating racial equity practices when addressing extreme heat, but especially when it comes to urban heat. It discusses the ways that the higher concentrations of pavement, buildings, and other materials contribute to heat in urban areas and how this has disproportionately affected low-income populations and communities of color through racist housing policies and historic disinvestment. The report identifies three main tactics that cities and counties are undertaking to combat urban heat: assessing community vulnerabilities, building emergency preparedness capacity, and mitigating through planning and design. The institute goes on to provide recommendations on how best to incorporate equity into each area.

Green is Good: The Impact of Sustainability on Real Estate Investment | Cushman & Wakefield

In March of this year, Cushman & Wakefield released the third part of its "Green is Good" series, which unpacks the ways LEED certification benefits investment sales across various kinds of markets and assets. Part three takes a look at how LEED certification for multifamily properties increases revenue for developers and investors. The report found that LEED-certified buildings tend to have 3.1% higher rents on average and 9.4% higher premiums that benefit developers, while government-sponsored enterprises have set up strong incentive programs that help accommodate that cost for the consumer.

America’s Rental Housing 2022 | Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies

This report from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies takes stock of the state of rental housing in the United States after the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic saw rents drop. The research found that the second year of the pandemic saw the demand for rental housing recover, bringing down vacancy rates and causing rents to rise far beyond where they were before. The report also assessed the impact of these higher rents, finding that lower-income households continued to struggle, with the southern states in particular facing a heightened crisis of rent burden.

New Data on the Characteristics of Mortgage Borrowers During the COVID-19 Pandemic | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Office of Research

The CFPB released this report, following an earlier one in May 2021, assessing the characteristics of borrowers during the larger part of the pandemic using account status data from up until March 2021. This new report sought to update that previous data by identifying the characteristics of these borrowers among those who remained in forbearance as of January 2022. This new sample had a forbearance rate of 1.3%, a noticeable drop from the 4.7% reported in the earlier report. While the numbers of those in forbearance dropped across all demographics, this report found that Black borrowers were still 2.8 times more likely to be in forbearance than white borrowers, and Hispanic borrowers were 1.6 times more likely.

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

See more residential research