Climate Change and the Housing Crisis — How to Face These Dual Crises Head-on

Image credit: Mighty Buildings/EYRC Architects

It isn’t too common to hear about housing and the home construction industry as part of the conversation surrounding the climate crisis.

Transportation, fossil fuels, and agricultural practices are usually the biggest villains in that discussion, but the truth is that the construction industry accounts for nearly 40% of global emissions, with 11% of that due to materials and construction, and 28% due to building energy use, according to the World Green Building Council

At the same time, the world is experiencing a global housing crisis. In California alone, it is estimated that the state needs 3.5 million more homes built by 2025 in order to meet the housing demand, but is on track to build less than 1 million of those units. Factor in the impacts of rising sea level, rampant wildfires, and other natural disasters associated with the effects of the climate crisis, and the housing crisis becomes even direr. 

The housing crisis is also placing more people in the face of these realities as housing costs drive construction farther from city centers, increasing reliance on transportation. In addition, existing homes and potential sites for new homes, particularly in coastal areas, are more and more at risk of becoming uninhabitable, exacerbating the lack of housing.

Changing the construction industry

For decades home building methods have remained largely unchanged. ‘Stick-built’ homes have been the norm for the last hundred years or more, relying on materials such as timber, concrete, cement, and bricks, which all place a resource burden on the planet and climate. If we continue to build the homes we need using traditional methods, doing so will only feed the climate crisis. 

The home construction industry has been one of the slowest to adopt innovation and new technology in order to increase productivity — which makes sense, as the safety of our homes, both in their construction and the materials used, is paramount. But there is a way to innovate safely and create space in the codes for better ways to build. 

The sustainable solution to home construction

That is why we have partnered with UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories), one of the world’s oldest and largest 3rd party certifying agencies, with over 100 years of building safety experience. 

Together we’ve created  UL 3401, the first standard for 3D printed construction, which serves as the basis for Appendix AW of the 2021 International Residential Code (IRC) update. By using 3D printing to reduce home construction waste and build net-zero energy homes using proprietary, sustainable material, we strive to do our part to meet the interconnected crises of housing availability and climate head-on.

Building for a better future

In light of the most recent IPCC report, even those who previously have been skeptical about the climate crisis are beginning to admit the stark reality that we are facing and the limited time that we have to change direction globally in order to ensure the survival of human society, much less the opportunity to thrive. While we at Mighty Buildings applaud the pledges of 2050 that have been made by industry, we feel that it is necessary to be much more aggressive if we are truly dedicated to fighting the climate crisis. Therefore we have taken a stand to show the rest of the industry that there is a better pathway - we have committed to being Carbon Neutral by 2028 with a goal of avoiding the need for offsets to achieve that.

We are in a make-or-break moment for humanity, now is not the time for incremental changes but rather calls for truly new ways of operating. That is why our goal is to disrupt through collaboration and to provide the industry with a tool that can help them build better and maximize the value of their existing teams and expertise. We want to make it easy for the industry to shift from driving the climate crisis to solving it. 

By using innovation and technology to change the way houses are built with 3D printing, we lead the way toward addressing both the climate and housing crises — and toward a brighter future.