Featured Interviews

How COVID and Biden’s Climate Law Could Usher in an Era of Green Housing

With more and more people working from home or on hybrid schedules, it leaves vacant buildings, and spaces to build. They find that roughly 11% of commercial office buildings in the 105 largest cities are suitable candidates for conversion.

According to Axios,

It’s all connected, man!

  • Housing is too scarce and expensive. Converting “brown” commercial stock into “green” housing can cut emissions by making these buildings cleaner and avoiding new construction.
  • It also helps prevent urban “doom loops” — under-utilization lowers tax revenues and business activity; services and values decline; safety risks rise, more flight ensues and on and on.

What we’re watching: The paper finds the maze of local zoning laws, permitting policies, and building codes could play a major role in encouraging conversions — or stymieing them.

  • At the federal level, the authors see potential for the new climate law to help subsidize green conversions several ways, such as energy efficiency and renewables tax credits.
  • One big one: The multi-purpose $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction fund run via the Environmental Protection Agency. The authors see a path to supporting emissions-friendly conversions, and create affordable units.

Of note: In late July, the White House name-checked the fund as an avenue for these kinds of conversions, so keep an eye on what’s ultimately supported with federal money.

Yes, but: Your mileage may vary. Lots of forces affect the economic viability of conversion projects, ranging from material costs to rental market conditions and plenty in between.

The bottom line: “While challenges abound, the potential to reimagine urban spaces for an economically and ecologically more sustainable future is immense,” the paper concludes.

Read More