Building Decarbonization Policy Must Center Housing and Health Equity

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new issue brief released [last week] from NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) highlights how racist practices create inadequate housing quality for at-risk communities and what can be done to address this within building decarbonization policy. The brief was created in collaboration with the Building Energy, Equity, and Power (BEEP) Coalition.

“If we fail to address the health disparities apparent in our housing policies then we risk missing out on the opportunity to advance housing justice alongside climate justice,” said Dr. Sabrina Johnson, Senior Advocate at NRDC and co-author of the issue brief. “Designing robust building policies that address affordability and health, and that include community engagement, will significantly improve public health, with low income and communities of color finally seeing a fair share of the benefits.”

“Inadequate housing quality not only leads to higher energy bills but also health impacts like asthma and respiratory illnesses, exposure to extreme temperatures, and negative mental health effects,” said Dr. Catherine Connolly, fellow at NRDC and Columbia University and co-author of the issue brief. “Building decarbonization risks perpetuating these health disparities if programs are not designed and implemented equitably.”

“Developing equitable building decarbonization policies and programs in collaboration with environmental justice and community-based organizations is crucial to rectifying historical housing injustices, fostering public health, and reducing greenhouse emissions. Investing in equitable building decarbonization is an investment in the sustainability and resilience of environmental justice communities across the state,” said Edgar Barrazza, Energy Equity Policy Coordinator at Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles and co-author of the issue brief.

The brief, Healthy, Climate-Resilient Homes for All: Centering Housing Justice and Health Equity in Building Decarbonization, outlines how current building decarbonization policies and programs generally do not integrate health or address the racist policies and practices that contribute to housing and wealth disparities. The brief finds that by integrating health and housing equity into electrification and building decarbonization policies, communities can advance housing justice in tandem with achieving climate goals.

For more on this topic, please see this blog from NRDC’s Dr. Catherine Connolly and this blog co-authored by NRDC’s Olivia Walker and Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles’s Edgar Barrazza.

Originally published on the NRDC Expert Blog.

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