Green Affordable Housing: Cost-Benefit Analysis for Zoning Incentives
Jeddi Yeganeh, Armin
McCoy, Andrew P.
Hankey, Steven C.
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In the year 2017, about 89% of the total energy consumed in the US was produced using non-renewable energy sources, and about 43% of tenant households were cost burdened. Local governments are in a unique position to facilitate green affordable housing, that could reduce cost burdens, environmental degradation, and environmental injustice. Nonetheless, limited studies have made progress on the costs and benefits of green affordable housing, to guide decision-making, particularly in small communities. This study investigates density bonus options for green affordable housing by analyzing construction costs, transaction prices, and spillover effects of green certifications and affordable housing units. The authors employ pooled cross-sectional construction cost and price data from 422 Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects and 11,016 Multiple Listing Service (MLS) transactions in Virginia. Using hedonic regression analyses controlling for mediating factors, the study finds that the new construction of market-rate green certified houses is associated with small upfront costs, but large and statistically significant price premiums. In addition, the construction of market-rate green certified houses has large and statistically significant spillover effects on existing non-certified houses. Existing non-certified affordable housing units show small and often insignificant negative price impacts on the transaction prices of surrounding properties. The study concludes that the magnitude of social benefits associated with green building justifies the local provision of voluntary programs for green affordable housing, where housing is expensive relative to its basic cost of production.