Op-Ed On The Climate Benefits Of Infill Housing

Right Type Right Place CoverWith the release of the new report Right Type, Right Place, Capitol Weekly ran an op-ed from me and co-authors Carol Galante and Noel Perry this week, summarizing some of the benefits of an infill “target” scenario for new housing in California:

The target scenario provides more housing that meets market demand for compact, walkable neighborhoods. While rents and home prices would be slightly higher in these neighborhoods on average, monthly household savings on commuting and other travel expenses, along with monthly savings on utilities, would more than make up the difference.

And infill has other advantages for our society. Switching from business as usual to the target scenario would save California 1.79 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year. That’s like taking 378,000 cars off the road; it would help us meet our climate change and air pollution goals. At the same time, our economy would fare better under the target scenario. Annual growth would be $800 million higher than under the business-as-usual scenario.

One benefit worth discussing but not captured in these economic and environmental metrics is quality of life.  How do you put a dollar value on someone now having access to a decent home near high-quality jobs and in good neighborhoods?  To being able to spend more time with family and friends and less in exhausting and expensive commutes?

Ultimately, infill is more than just about numbers.  It’s about access to a better life for everyone, and the cleaner environment that goes with it.