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Creating Affordable Sustainable Housing

Updated: Mar 15

How can the U.S. make sustainable housing feasible for the average American to take part in, so as to get as many citizens involved in the climate movement as possible?


Big Picture


With the severe effects of climate change fast approaching, it is important that the entire U.S. population mobilizes in an effort to curb this phenomenon. As a way of seamlessly incorporating sustainability into one’s daily life, sustainable homes have been developed. This form of architecture, while reducing ecological footprints, can have hefty initial costs. The U.S. must make this form of sustainability feasible for the average American to take part in, so as to get as many citizens involved in the climate movement as possible.



Operative Definitions


  1. Sustainable: Something that can be maintained on its own over an extended period of time.

  2. Sustainable home: A residence built in such a way that it conserves resources, saves energy and has a positive impact on the environment.

  3. Ecological footprint: The overall impact a person’s lifestyle has on the environment.

  4. (Home) Market value: The value of a home that is in the marketplace.

  5. Passive solar design: A design that utilizes already-installed materials and structures that can reflect or absorb heat; heats and cools a home without the need for using an air conditioner or heater (to a certain extent).


Important Facts and Statistics


  1. At-home energy consumption accounts for up to 26% of someone’s carbon footprint.

  2. It currently costs between $395,804 and $423,237 to build a sustainable home.

  3. Over 75% of construction waste produced from materials such as wood, brick and clay tiles are sent to landfills.


Three-Point Plan


(1) Establish a federal sustainable building initiative.

Create a federal sustainable home-building initiative in which government-employed construction workers and contractors will work to include sustainable homes in residential areas across the nation. These homes will include aspects such as solar panels, passive solar design and water-saving appliances. This way, the U.S. government can contribute sustainable homes to the market, as well as control the pricing of certain sustainable homes and set lower baseline prices, so as to appeal to more buyers.


(2) Require that U.S. banks approve a greater number of loans for those looking to purchase sustainable homes per year.

See that U.S. banks approve a larger number of loans for those looking to purchase sustainable homes. To the average buyer, high upfront costs can seem intimidating; they often act as a deterrent. If consumers had a larger chance of getting a loan, the probability of them buying the attached sustainable home would be higher.


(3) Require that all home-construction companies across the nation properly recycle and reuse as much building material as possible with each new project.

Mandate that all home-building companies properly recycle and reuse as much building material as possible with each new project they start. While it is not realistic to require all construction to be conducted with sustainable materials and end with a sustainable product, it is reasonable to ask that they use sustainable practices while functioning. To ensure extra materials do not end up in landfills, reusing and recycling can put sustainability on everyone’s mind- buyers and builders alike. This will assimilate eco-conscious practices into housing that may not have been sustainable on its own.


Why This Initiative Is Important


As was mentioned, an increased number of severe effects caused by the climate crisis are fast approaching. This makes immediate action, including action on the part of the American people, vital. Though, such a feat is easier said than done. Integrating green habits into already-established routines can prove difficult in a world where such aspects of life are so set in stone. It is understandable that not every citizen is willing to invest in what can add up to thousands of dollars in green appliances or changes.


This proposal aims to provide Americans with a way to incorporate sustainability into their everyday lives: just by living. By working to reduce the initial costs of sustainable homes, this initiative targets the average buyer, planting the seed of sustainability and green living into the minds of so many more people, and getting the public engaged with this movement by making it more accessible in the first place.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


Sources


"Interesting Facts about Eco-Friendly Houses." VRKP Group, 8 Aug. 2021, vrkp.in/blog/2021/08/08/interesting-facts-about-eco-friendly-houses/. Accessed 30 Sept. 2022.


Peterson, Zachariah. "Eco Homes: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Sustainable House?" SleeveUp Homes, 10 Jan. 2022, sleeveuphomes.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-build-a-sustainable-house#:~:text=our%20coveted%20numbers%3A-,The%20average%20cost%20to%20build%20a,is%20between%20%24395%2C804%20and%20%24423%2C237. Accessed 30 Sept. 2022.


"25 Ways to Make Your Home Sustainable." Constellation, 7 Jan. 2020, blog.constellation.com/2020/01/07/ways-to-make-your-house-more-sustainable/. Accessed 30 Sept. 2022.


"23 Construction Waste Statistics and Tips to Reduce Landfill Debris." Big Rentz, 12 Apr. 2021, www.bigrentz.com/blog/construction-waste-statistics#:~:text=As%20much%20as%2030%25%20of,(EPA). Accessed 30 Sept. 2022.


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