US cities are faced with the joint challenge of our climate crisis and the lack of housing that is affordable and healthy. Our housing stock contributes significantly to the changing climate, with residential buildings accounting for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. US housing is not only unhealthy for the planet, it is putting the physical and financial health of residents at risk. Our housing system means that a renter working 40 hours a week and earning minimum wage cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment in any US county.
In Gray to Green Communities, green affordable housing expert Dana Bourland argues that we need to move away from a gray housing model to a green model, which considers the health and well-being of residents, their communities, and the planet. She demonstrates that we do not have to choose between protecting our planet and providing housing affordable to all.
Bourland draws from her experience leading the Green Communities Program at Enterprise Community Partners, a national community development intermediary. Her work resulted in the first standard for green affordable housing which was designed to deliver measurable health, economic, and environmental benefits.
The book opens with the potential of green affordable housing, followed by the problems that it is helping to solve, challenges in the approach that need to be overcome, and recommendations for the future of green affordable housing. Gray to Green Communities brings together the stories of those who benefit from living in green affordable housing and examples of Green Communities’ developments from across the country. Bourland posits that over the next decade we can deliver on the human right to housing while reaching a level of carbon emissions reductions agreed upon by scientists and demanded by youth.
Gray to Green Communities will empower and inspire anyone interested in the future of housing and our planet.
About the Author
Dana Bourland is Vice President of the Environment Program at The JPB Foundation. Formerly Bourland was Vice President of Green Initiatives for Enterprise Community Partners where she led environmental strategy for the national organization. She developed and oversaw all aspects of Enterprise’s award-winning Green Communities program including the creation of the Green Communities Criteria, the Green Communities Offset Fund and Enterprise’s Multifamily Retrofit Program.
"Dana Bourland shows us how a smart approach to climate, housing, and social policy can result in a stronger economy and healthier citizens. Communities that were locked out of the last century's pollution-based economy need to be locked into the new clean and green economy. Gray to Green Communities is a must-read for anyone who cares about an inclusive, green path forward." — Van Jones, political commentator, CNN
"If you’re worried about climate change and wondering where to start on the road to a healthy, equitable, and sustainable future, read Gray to Green Communities. Dana Bourland reminds us that a better future must begin at home, or more precisely in the transition to healthier, affordable housing for those who need it most. After all, there’s no place like home." — Gina McCarthy, Pres/CEO of NRDC, Former Administrator of US EPA under President Obama
"Dana has listened to the voice, wisdom, and experience of early champions of the green communities movement. In doing so, she manifests the radical imagination necessary to provide life- and world-changing solutions to our nation’s housing and climate challenges. She also centers racial equity by advancing solutions that prioritize millions of people hurt first and worst by poor housing conditions and climate-related disasters. Gray to Green Communities is a generational call to action and a salve for souls yearning for harmony between people and planet." — Michael McAfee, President and CEO, PolicyLink
"Dana Bourland has paved a path for the United States to improve the quality of housing for all—particularly for those whose security and stability depend on affordable housing. A leader in green affordable housing, she has written a must-have book for those seeking to better understand some of the issues facing housing and the green way forward." — Chrissa Pagitsas, VP, Environmental Social Governance, Fannie Mae
"This crisp book brims with wisdom. Nominally about housing and climate change, it also tackles health risks, poverty, racism, social injustice, and the environmental crisis—and proposes practical, cross-cutting solutions that solve many problems at once. Skillfully deploying both human stories and rigorous data, Dana Bourland gives us a compelling blueprint for sustainable, healthy homes and communities." — Howard Frumkin, Former Director, National Center for Environmental Health, US CDC; Professor Emeritus, University of Washington School of Public Health; Co-editor, "Making Healthy Places"
"In the wealthiest society in history no one should live in substandard housing that wastes lives, energy, and resources. Gray to Green Communities is a thoughtful, articulate, and impassioned call to do better. Dana Bourland makes a powerful case for addressing the housing crisis systematically with the tools of integrated design to help solve problems of climate change, unemployment, and social decay while building cohesive, just, and prosperous communities. A must read!" — David W. Orr, author of "The Nature of Design", "Earth in Mind", and co-editor of "Democracy Unchained"