impact on environment

dung_burning_mongolia.jpgLow-cost housing has a profound impact on the environment. Buildings contribute approximately 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, consume vast amounts of natural resources, and are major solid waste and water pollution generators - representing a critical area for multi-stakeholder action. Poorly built, low-cost housing is one of the worst offenders within the built sector with respect to environmental impact.

In developed regions, housing that is affordable to low-income populations is often poorly insulated and ventilated, causing energy inefficiency of up to 20 to 30%. Further, it tends to be located far from transit, causing residents to rely on the carbon-heavy automobile to reach basic amenities and jobs. In developing regions, where slums pervade, the overwhelming lack of basic infrastructure, including electricity and sanitation, causes the unhealthy use of unrefined fuels for heating and cooking (often dung, coal or kerosene) and water and soil contamination. In fact, 30% of solid waste lies uncovered in the streets. Materials are often sourced from over-harvested local forests or resource deposits, outpacing nature's ability for replacement, and threatening air quality and biodiversity. In effect, housing quality is as just important as availability when considering affordable housing solutions.


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