Although humanity as a whole is more aware than ever of the negative effects of climate change, we’re edging ever closer to the tipping point. The damage from irreversible climate change is expected to impact virtually every industry on Earth, including housing.
Thanks to climate change, renters and homeowners alike, especially young people, are facing a radically different future than we may have imagined. The unfortunate reality is that, unless governments and policymakers take drastic steps toward improving planetary health, climate change will continue to impact everyday life, including where we live.
The Future of Housing in the Wake of Climate Change
It’s important to note that not every change related to climate issues is negative. Cultivating sustainability (in every aspect of our lives) has become an important talking point in recent years. As such, homeowners across the globe are incorporating environmental stewardship into their building and design plans, in increasing numbers.
Sustainable building and design are much more than fleeting trends in urban housing: Indeed, green construction serves as a relatively simple, effective way for homeowners to reduce their carbon output over the long term. Further, in certain towns and municipalities, new buildings are required to meet certain environmental standards, and some homeowners may qualify for tax credits or similar incentives when they utilize green construction methods.
Let’s explore 5 key ways that climate change is likely to affect housing into the future.
Increased Risk of Inclement Weather Events
For starters, climate change comes with plenty of environmental side effects, some of which are more readily apparent than others. Extreme weather events ranging from hurricanes and tornadoes to floods, extreme drought, and unexpected snowstorms have increased in frequency in recent years, sometimes destroying entire communities in their wake.
The good news is that modern building designers typically take weather and climate into account, and they do so throughout the entire construction process. In flood zones, for example, professional builders are improving the structural stability of older homes and new construction projects alike, utilizing a variety of methods. The use of flood-resistant materials and mindful design of electrical systems are popular strategies in the U.S. Gulf Coast and other natural disaster-prone regions of the world.
Rising Homeowner Costs
Additionally, inclement weather stemming from climate change can have a detrimental effect on housing costs — in the form of exorbitant insurance rates, for starters. Climate change has also been found to affect mortgage rates, especially in areas that are prone to extreme weather. And when it comes to building a new home or remodeling an existing one, prices are higher than ever, thanks to the unfortunate combination of climate change and the global pandemic.
Increased Building and Material Prices
High building material costs are nothing new in our post-pandemic world, and supply chain disruptions are touted as the primary cause. Yet in terms of cause and effect, it would be a mistake to overlook the impact of climate change on construction material pricing and availability. Fortune magazine reports that raw lumber prices reached an all-time high in May 2021, despite surging production, and homeowners in some areas even saw their property values depreciate during the same timeframe. Widespread deforestation and drought conditions are likely to keep forests from thriving, reducing the availability of usable timber and keeping prices high.
Reduced Indoor Air Quality
Improved air quality is yet another benefit of green building and design, which is good news for city dwellers. Around the world, harmful air pollution is rampant, and an estimated 7 million people die every year as a result of breathing bad air, reports the World Health Organization (WHO).
Poor outside air is one of the most pronounced side effects of climate change, but that doesn’t mean that global indoor air quality is any better. Many urban dwellers aren’t even aware that they’re breathing contaminated air, yet so-called “sick building syndrome” is common and caused by several pollutants. Sick building syndrome is often detected when people notice symptoms like stuffy noses and coughs coming and going when they come and go from work or home. In urban settings, however, it often goes unnoticed because of large populations and lower economic status.
Lack of Available Housing
As though rising global temperatures, out-of-control inflation, and poor air quality weren’t bad enough, climate change has also brought about a new form of refugee crisis. Climate refugees are those individuals fleeing from inclement weather, wildfire, and more, and they’re flooding an already over-taxed housing market.
In our increasingly digital and interconnected world, social justice topics such as housing must coexist with environmental issues. Climate change is a heavy burden, but it’s also likely around for the long haul. As such, we must learn to adapt, altering the way we live, and even the place we call home. Whether we rent an urban studio or own a sprawling ranch in the country, the future of housing is in our hands.
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