Sustainable BuildingsHousingHousing: Facts & Figures

Housing: Facts & Figures

Iris Fiebiger
Iris Fiebiger
Nature provides us with everything we need. Not just in terms of sustainable resources but also on an emotional level. Being outside and connecting with your surroundings brings so much joy. This is what I find worth protecting.

Why is it important to improve housing and make our homes greener, safer, more socially inclusive, affordable, and just overall better?

The following facts provide answers to this question. They illustrate what impact housing has on our lives as well as the environment and show why housing matters.

Setting the Scene

  • According to the latest figures, about 7.7 billion people live on our planet – all of whom need and have a right to adequate housing.
  • Half the world’s population lives in just 7 countries, namely the US, Brazil, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, China, and Indonesia.
  • Urban areas, other settlements, and infrastructure make up 1.5m km2, just 1%, of the Earth’s inhabitable land.

Make It Affordable

  • In more than 50% of OECD countries, house prices have grown faster than incomes since 2015.
  • Fewer than 50% of people in OECD countries find there is enough good and affordable housing available.
  • In most OECD countries, renting is more expensive than buying a house.
  • Between 2010 and 2019, housing prices and rents in the EU have increased by 19% and 13% respectively.
  • In OECD countries, just under 7% of the total housing stock is made up of social housing.
  • In the US, 3 out of 4 extremely low-income families spend more than 50% of their pay on rent.
  • In OECD and EU countries, housing is the single-highest household expense on average.
  • Hong Kong has the most expensive residential property market worldwide, with properties being sold for an average price of $1.25 million. Similarly high prices are the norm in Munich, Singapore, and Shanghai.
  • The average residential rent in New York amounts to $2,870 per month.

For Our Youth

For our youth
Image credit: Unsplash / Vitolda Klein

Much Needed: Better Housing Conditions

  • Around the globe, 1.6 billion people suffer from inadequate housing conditions.
  • In Europe alone, 700,000 people are without a home.
  • The lower a person’s income, the more likely they are to suffer from overcrowding.
  • As of 2023, slightly over 17% of people in the EU live in an overcrowded home while 34% live in an under-occupied one.
  • Providing housing solutions for low-income households can decrease social tension in cities.

My Home Is My Health

  • Poor housing conditions cause or increase the risk of several diseases and injuries, thereby worsening the occupants’ physical (and mental) health.
  • There is a clear link between overcrowding and mortality.
  • Our homes have a significant impact on our mental health as they influence:
    • our sleeping pattern,
    • relationships,
    • self-esteem,
    • levels of stress and anxiety.
  • Belonging to a community promotes mental and emotional wellbeing.
  • Access to green and recreational amenities that encourage physical activity is crucial in preventing obesity.

Green Pays Off

  • Taken together, buildings and the building construction sector account for 38% of all energy-related CO2 emissions.
  • Housing presents the single most efficient sector that can tackle climate change without incurring additional costs.
  • Green buildings present a $24.7 trillion investment opportunity.
  • Green buildings are likely to incur far lower cost over their lifecycle.
  • Buildings that do not comply with climate change legislation will lose economic value and could even face legal action.
  • Even as far back as 2012, green schools were spending $100,000 less per year on operational costs.

Housing Facts in a Nutshell

Housing is a topic relevant to everyone, and there is a lot left to do to make it better. However big this challenge may seem right now, though, we can (and should!) tackle it. Let’s make housing in our cities greener, safer, more socially inclusive, affordable, and overall more suitable for our needs!


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