NIBS Issues Call-to-Action Report on Access to Clean Water and Housing Affordability

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Stephen T. Ayers

WASHINGTON, DC– The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) issued the 2024 Moving Forward Report, a two-part report focused on recommendations to ensure access to clean water and sanitation and to promote housing affordability.

The report was compiled by the NIBS Consultative Council, which convenes high-level building community leaders to make collective recommendations directly to policymakers to improve the nation’s buildings and infrastructure. The report is included as a core component of NIBS Annual Report to the President of the United States.

“The Moving Forward Report is our opportunity to research critical issues and offer forward-thinking solutions to these challenges in the built environment,” said Stephen T. Ayers, NIBS Interim President & CEO. “The council’s findings, which are based on expert testimony and research by the council, are designed to ensure access to clean water and sanitation and promote housing affordability for all Americans.”

Clean Water and Sanitation and the Built Environment

In the report, “Water and Sanitation Access and the Built Environment,” the Consultative Council focused on key considerations to inform decisions on planning for, mitigating, and potentially solving clean water access for residential and commercial buildings.

The council concluded that water use in buildings and households is an underexamined and underappreciated aspect of the water crisis in the U.S.

The water and sanitation access report calls for:

  • Improved and increased data collection efforts regarding water access, quality, and use in households and buildings.
  • Increased market share for WaterSense and other efficiency programs, expansion of the use of alternate water sources, and increased focus on water efficiency as it relates to energy efficiency.
  • Increased funding for centralized and decentralized water and sanitation infrastructure, especially for projects in underserved communities, and support for strong water treatment standards.

A Close Look at Housing Affordability

The 2024 Moving Forward Report also examines the fundamental problem of affordability of rental and for-sale housing in the U.S. The study kicked off last November, when NIBS hosted a hearing on housing affordability at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The hearing assembled leading experts from trade associations, think tanks, academia, and practitioners to discuss the state of housing affordability and solutions to address the affordability and availability of housing.

The housing affordability crisis has steadily worsened over decades of divergence between housing costs and incomes.

The council offers several recommendations around regulations, zoning and land use, financial investments, and alternative construction methods, including offsite construction. These include:

  • A full and comprehensive, unbiased study of the impact of buildings codes and other regulations on housing affordability.
  • Revision of zoning codes to allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs), increase density, and allow multifamily buildings in neighborhoods previously restricted to single-family homes.
  • On the supply side, Federal agencies should encourage lenders to ease lending requirements and fund reduced mortgage rates for builders, particularly for land development and construction loans.
  • Invest in alternative methods of construction, including industrialized offsite production.

View the housing affordability report.

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