Residential energy use represents roughly one-fifth of annual greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
A team of researchers used data from 60 million individual United States households to look into how carbon emissions resulting from household energy use vary by race and ethnicity across the country.
Paradoxically, this first national-level analysis found that even though energy-efficient homes are more often found in white neighborhoods, carbon emissions from these neighborhoods are higher than in African American neighborhoods.
“Our analysis shows that homes in majority African American communities have poorer energy efficiency than those in Caucasian neighborhoods. However, carbon emissions are still higher in Caucasian neighborhoods because homes in these areas are generally larger,” says Benjamin Goldstein, assistant professor in McGill University’s department of bioresource engineering and lead author of the study.
The study appears in the journal Energy Research & Social Science. Coauthors are Joshua Newell and Tony Reames of the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability.
The research team arrived at its conclusions by using statistical modeling to look at factors such as building age, ownership, and size by neighborhood. They also point to the fact that historical housing policies, particularly “redlining“—a discriminatory practice in which banks withheld loans from potential customers who resided in neighborhoods considered “financially risky”—overwhelmingly affected African American neighborhoods and forestalled home improvements that would reduce energy demand.
Read the full article about redlining and carbon emissions by Jim Erickson at Futurity.
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