Report Links Housing Growth and Climate Resilience

Data from three U.S. metro areas show a failure to address land use and sprawl as a key factor driving climate change.

1 minute read

December 26, 2021, 5:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Town Homes

RodClementPhotography / Shutterstock

A report from Rushaine Goulbourne and Jenny Schuetz provides a model for climate-friendly housing development in Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., three metro areas with different urban development patterns. The report notes that "over the past 30 years, most new homes in these metro areas have been built in suburban and exurban communities, with single-family homes making up roughly 70% of new homes—exactly the opposite of climate-friendly growth." But since 2005, multi-family units have started overtaking single-family construction, signaling a shift toward denser, more accessible developments. The authors recommend strategies including infill development that will put people closer to jobs and services and enable a 'car-light lifestyle.' 

According to the report, "In Chicago and Washington, D.C., homes built in the urban core and along key transit spokes that connect to large suburban job centers create the greatest opportunity for non-car-dependent commutes. However, in the Atlanta metro area, nearly two-thirds of MARTA stations are located within the city of Atlanta, providing limited connections to major suburban job centers."

While most land use decisions are made at the local and state level, the authors note, the federal government can encourage more sustainable development by enacting rules that connect land use to transit funding and providing grants to boost transit.

Thursday, December 16, 2021 in The Brookings Institution

Large blank mall building with only two cars in large parking lot.

Pennsylvania Mall Conversion Bill Passes House

If passed, the bill would promote the adaptive reuse of defunct commercial buildings.

April 18, 2024 - Central Penn Business Journal

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

A view straight down LaSalle Street, lined by high-rise buildings with an El line running horizontally over the street.

Chicago to Turn High-Rise Offices into Housing

Four commercial buildings in the Chicago Loop have been approved for redevelopment into housing in a bid to revitalize the city’s downtown post-pandemic.

April 10, 2024 - Chicago Construction News

Purple jacaranda trees in bloom in Los Angeles with tall white Art Deco buildings in background.

LA County Releases Draft Community Forest Management Plan

LA County's Chief Sustainability Office just released the discussion draft of Room to Grow, the first Community Forest Management Plan for the county.

April 21 - Los Angeles County Chief Sustainability Office

Aerial view of downtown Seattle, Washington at dusk.

Seattle Downtown Plan Expands Permitted Uses

The Downtown Activation Plan shifts from Euclidean to form-based zoning to encourage more commercial development.

April 21 - Governing

Large water pipe with brown water pouring out into dirt ditch.

Southern Water Infrastructure at Risk From Climate Impacts

A water main breaks somewhere in the United States every two minutes, according to an estimate from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

April 21 - The Conversation

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.