Global Democracy, devolution and governance

Sustainable and affordable housing: Case studies and resources for local government


Every week, we highlight inspiration and innovation from local government worldwide. In this article, we’re focusing on measures from Brazil, Northern Ireland, Timor-Leste and Belgium to improve and protect our electoral systems and campaigns, along with plenty of practical policy and resources on coordinating elections.

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Policy innovation and inspiration examples from the local government sector

France: Paris’ first zero-carbon neighbourhood
Located in the city’s 19th arrondissement, last year saw the launch of Paris’ first zero-carbon neighbourhood complex. While only consisting of four apartment buildings, the “Fertile Isle” contains shops, offices, hotels, and sports facilities, a nod to the 15-minute city concept. Planning-wise, every aspect of the neighbourhood conforms to sustainable principles, be it limiting energy requirements in the design, on-site energy production via bio-solar roofs, significant amounts of natural cooling via greenery, the use of low-carbon concrete, and grey water recycling. Instead of planning for cars, the buildings are reliant on a soft mobility track that connects the development to the nearby station.
The Mayor

USA: Indigenous nation in America-first green experiment to build new homes
The Lower Sioux in Minnesota will soon own a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing campus that will be home to a green experiment. The campus will allow the Native American tribe to grow hemp, process it into the insulation material hempcrete, and then develop low-carbon homes, in what will be an American first. Currently, nearly half of the 1,124 enrolled members of the Lower Sioux need homes, with some living in flimsy shelters unequipped for the cold and others simply camping outside the reservation. Now, the tribe have two prototype homes nearing completion and the know-how to build or retrofit more, as well as the learning of a niche-eco skill they can market. Hemp was chosen for its versatility – it has 25,000 uses, including biofuel, textiles, and wood substitutes, and regenerates soil and sequesters carbon while not requiring fertilisers.

Austria: Taking the stigma out of social housing in Vienna
Vienna bucks the trend of other European capitals, in that living in social housing is viewed as a sign of high-quality urban living. More than 60% of Vienna’s 1.8 million residents live in subsidised dwellings, with close to half of the housing market comprised of city-owned apartments or cooperative flats. Deputy mayor Kathrin Gaal said “social housing policies in Vienna have been shaped by the political commitment that housing is a basic right”, with the city sticking to the mission of keeping its massive stock of subsidised homes from the past century in the hands of the public over recent decades. On top of reduced rents and huge building stock, the visual appeal of these homes keeps them popular with all city dwellers. Vienna’s approach to removing the stigma of social housing has been adopted in part in places like Lisbon, Lyon and Barcelona.
Politico / The Guardian

Denmark: The eco-community where residents build their homes
On Denmark’s Djursland peninsula lies the sustainable community of Friland, which curiously has bloomed from a reality TV experiment to a fully-fledged place to live. The inhabitants have built their own homes under the hope to live mortgage free, with the idea stemming from a national television reality show screened 20 years ago, where 13 families created a small village from scratch. While some left, many stayed, with homes initially built from wooden planks and recyclable materials developed further and the community continuing to grow. 45 families now live there, offering guided tours to the 2,000 tourists who visit every year.
The Guardian

Resources to help run our elections

Old file folders books

Funding and financing energy performance and climate-resilient retrofits for low-income housing
This Australian Council of Social Service report emphasises the urgent need for a $2 billion national fund to support deep and rapid retrofits in low-income homes. It highlights the importance of tailored programs for different low-income housing types and a seven-year plan to retrofit all social housing, with funding and finance options to roll out rapid energy performance and climate-resilience retrofits.

Financing first home ownership: opportunities and challenges
This inquiry into buying a first home in Australia examines the complex challenges first homebuyers face. It tackles the socio-economic and policy settings that impact home ownership access, and argues that tax concessions and homeowner grants have failed to tackle declining home ownership rates. It also examines the behavioural changes first homeowners have had to adopt, from buying different types of dwellings away from their social networks to relying more on their parents financially.

A policy plan for decarbonising homes
With the reduction of home carbon emissions a crucial step in reaching net zero, this Nesta report outlines how the UK’s home heating network can be decarbonised, ranging from the phase out of gas boilers by 2035, making low-carbon heating affordable to own, training more skilled heat pump installers, and better planning of low-carbon or electric heating systems.

Local authority domestic retrofit handbook
This handbook brings together existing resources to provide practical advice to local authorities in England on retrofitting. It showcases good practice across various steps in the retrofit process.

Looking for even more on this topic? Check out our collection of resources on energy! Make sure you subscribe to LGIU to never miss out on this essential service for the local government sector everywhere.


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