Resilient Communities; Climate and Energy Equity; Safe, Accessible Homes
Summary on Equitable Decarbonization
Building energy consumption contributed approximately 35% of the nation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2019 — and up to 75% in denser cities like New York City — making them a prime candidate for decarbonization (Worthen Foundation 2022). Low-income communities are disproportion- ately located near fossil fuel facilities and burdened by environmental pollution. Homes with high energy inefficiencies and difficulties in regulating temperature expose residents to mental and physical health risks (Hernandez 2016). Affordable housing tenants continue to be disproportion- ately impacted by health consequences caused by environmental injustice and resource extraction in their communities. Undertaking GHG reductions requires significant investment and alignment of efforts from a regional scale to the city- and state- or other territories nationwide. Combined with the lingering consequences of structural racism in policy and resource allocation, housing infrastructure in urban and rural areas continue to face disadvantages when transitioning from oil or gas to electric and/or non-fossil fuel alternatives.
Approximately one-third of households in the United States are experiencing energy insecurity, the inability to meet basic household energy needs, with low-income, Black and Latino households disproportionately affected (Hernandez 2016). At the core of energy insecurity is a combination of physical housing conditions, household energy expenditures, and energy-related coping strategies paving the way for environmental, health, and social consequences (Hernandez 2016).
To achieve a more equitable clean energy transition, policies, and resources can be leveraged to target underlying inequities in the current housing market — from ensuring housing remains affordable to reducing the energy burden on low- to moderate-income renters. Retrofitting existing affordable housing requires considerable funding since many lack the capital reserves to effectively cover project costs to design policies and financial incentives.
Prepared by Kinetic Communities Consulting
Angel Chen (she / her) Senior Sustainability Consultant, Kinetic Comunities (KC3)
Emily Baumbach (she/her) Program Manager,
Kinetic Communities (KC3)