Affordable, Resilient Net-Zero Homes

Assessing climate vulnerability and creating affordable, climate resilient, net-zero homes in Evanston, Illinois.

Local urgency around affordability and climate change has driven Evanston to propose a project at the nexus of affordability, energy use in existing buildings, and climate resilience. To achieve City carbon neutrality goals equitably, steep reductions in emissions from existing buildings are necessary, coupled with policies that reduce vulnerability of buildings to Evanston’s local climate hazards of extreme heat and intense storm and precipitation events. But past racially-motivated policies, exacerbated by the mortgage foreclosure crisis and 2008 economic recession, reinforce racial segregation and make it difficult for residents to access affordable housing, let alone housing that is energy efficient and climate resilient. People of color disproportionately bear the burden of unaffordable housing in Evanston.

The project is studying options to achieve affordable, resilient, net-zero homes in Evanston. It is intended as a first step in a comprehensive effort to transition homes in Evanston to a climate resilience and net-zero emissions standard while maintaining affordability. Learn more about Evanston's Climate Action and Resilience Plan here.

 

Key Definitions


Equity – Racial equity is achieved when racial identity is no longer a predictor of life outcomes. Learn more about Evanston’s commitment to end structural racism and achieve racial equity.

Affordable Housing – Housing available to those with a median household income at or below 120% of area median income (AMI), with a focus on households below 80% of AMI. Affordable housing may be either income-qualified, or “naturally occurring” housing that is rented or mortgaged at an affordable cost. This project prioritizes buildings that house low-income residents and/or people of color.

 

Net-Zero Building – Highly energy efficient housing, where the amount of energy used by the building equals the amount of clean energy produced, either at the building or off-site.  Clean energy examples include rooftop solar and community solar. Energy from non-renewable sources, such as natural gas, creates greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change impacts.


80% of Evanston’s greenhouse gas emissions are produced by buildings.


Climate Resilient Housing – Housing that reduces vulnerability of residents to climate impacts, such as utility expenses, indoor health quality, and building integrity. Climate data indicates that Evanston may experience more extremely hot days and severe storms, which could cause impacts such as heat-related illness and home flooding.

 

Vulnerability Assessments

These maps illustrate the degree to which Evanston’s housing affordability is threatened by climate change and gentrification. The Vulnerability Score is based on climate, housing and social conditions. Property values are used to represent housing affordability.


Housing Vulnerability
Single Family Homes, Evanston IL (2020)

Example: To understand how the vulnerability score is calculated, let’s consider two different areas - Example Area 1 and Example Area 2. Area 1 has very few street trees, many lower income families and many homes with relatively low property values. Area 2 has many trees, many high-income residents and many homes with high property values. Therefore, Example Area 1 would have a higher vulnerability score than Example Area 2.

 

Housing Vulnerability
2-4 Unit Buildings, Evanston IL (2020)

Example: To understand how the vulnerability score is calculated, let’s consider two different areas - Example Area 1 and Example Area 2. Area 1 has very few street trees, many lower income families and many homes with relatively low property values. Area 2 has many trees, many high-income residents and many homes with high property values. Therefore, Example Area 1 would have a higher vulnerability score than Example Area 2.

 

Housing Vulnerability
5-9 Unit Buildings, Evanston IL (2020)

Example: To understand how the vulnerability score is calculated, let’s consider two different areas - Example Area 1 and Example Area 2. Area 1 has very few street trees, many lower income families and many homes with relatively low property values. Area 2 has many trees, many high-income residents and many homes with high property values. Therefore, Example Area 1 would have a higher vulnerability score than Example Area 2.

 

Housing Vulnerability
10+ Unit Buildings, Evanston IL (2020)

Example: To understand how the vulnerability score is calculated, let’s consider two different areas - Example Area 1 and Example Area 2. Area 1 has very few street trees, many lower income families and many homes with relatively low property values. Area 2 has many trees, many high-income residents and many homes with high property values. Therefore, Example Area 1 would have a higher vulnerability score than Example Area 2.

 

Social Vulnerability
Evanston IL (2020)

Example: To understand how the vulnerability score is calculated, let’s consider two different areas - Example Area 1 and Example Area 2. Area 1 has very few street trees, many lower income families and many homes with relatively low property values. Area 2 has many trees, many high-income residents and many homes with high property values. Therefore, Example Area 1 would have a higher vulnerability score than Example Area 2.

 

Climate Vulnerability
Evanston IL (2020)

Example: To understand how the vulnerability score is calculated, let’s consider two different areas - Example Area 1 and Example Area 2. Area 1 has very few street trees, many lower income families and many homes with relatively low property values. Area 2 has many trees, many high-income residents and many homes with high property values. Therefore, Example Area 1 would have a higher vulnerability score than Example Area 2.


Project Team

City of Evanston

Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT)

Elevate Energy

MUSE Community + Design
 

Project Funders

This project is generously supported by Partners for Places, Evanston Community Foundation, and Chicago Community Trust

 

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