Sustainable BuildingsHousingHousing: Useful Guides

Housing: Useful Guides

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.

Finding useful resources that help you improve the housing situation in your city is often difficult. Not because there’s nothing out there. Quite the contrary: there is so much information out there that it’s easy to lose track. But don’t worry – we’ve got your back!

We’ve collected some brilliant resources for you. Whether you want to make housing in your city more affordable, inclusive, healthier, or greener, here are some top guides that will help you make your vision come true.


The Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing

The charter outlines the four principles crucial to sustainable housing:

  1. Environmental protection
  2. Economic effectiveness
  3. Social inclusion and participation
  4. Cultural adequacy

The charter illustrates how each principle can be fulfilled and might help you determine a starting point when looking to make housing in your city more sustainable.

OECD Policy Action Tool

Though a little awkward to navigate at first, this policy action tool is great for understanding the pros and cons of various housing-related actions.

All you need to do is choose the policy field you are interested in (i.e., taxation, spending, regulation, or urban planning). That way, the map hides the other policy fields and is simplified a little. By then hovering over the numbered circles, you can see how each action promotes or decreases inclusiveness, sustainability, and efficiency. More information about the different actions can be found in this e-book.

Bloomberg: Iconic Home Designs

Fancy a read? This fascinating Bloomberg article series focuses on architectural design around the globe and explains what floor plans say about our cities.

Affordable Housing

Harvard University: Solving the Rental Affordability Crisis

This guide on how to approach the problem of rental affordability was designed by Harvard students. Students?! Yes, that’s correct. The idea was that students might offer a different perspective on the issue of rental affordability. And guess what? They did, and they came up with new solutions to it! Some of their findings are specific to the cities studied; however, their general approach surely provides some useful input.

Shelter & The URBED Trust: International Examples of Affordable Housing

Want to see some real-life examples? This report includes case studies of successful affordable housing strategies around the world. While these case studies don’t provide a one-size-fits-all solution, they certainly serve as an inspiration and show what is possible.

Housing Partnership Action Plan

The housing affordability crisis presents a huge challenge. This action plan aims to tackle it! It consists of 12 concrete actions and a set of recommendations for the future development of housing policies. Excellent for those wanting to take a deep dive.

A brief overview of the action plan is available here.

European Responsible Housing Roadmap

If you are looking to turn the profit-driven housing market into a more socially responsible one, check out this roadmap. It outlines how housing providers can support tenants and promote an inclusive, sustainable, affordable, and fair housing environment.

A little bonus for our CityChangers: we spoke to one of the experts involved in designing this roadmap. Why not check out the interview with Barbara Steenbergen?

Inclusive Housing

UN-Habitat: Accessibility of Housing

This handbook by UN-Habitat gives concrete advice on how to develop “inclusive affordable housing solutions” for the disabled and elderly. Chapter 5 even provides you with case studies from around the world.

Community Living British Colombia (CLBC): Inclusive Housing

Wondering how to make housing more inclusive? Get talking! This report is based on a one-day inclusive housing forum organised by the CLBC. The CLBC invited stakeholders, advocates, community groups, and many more to participate in the forum and develop a framework for inclusive housing.

Flexible Planning for Inclusive Neighbourhoods

This short but useful essay illustrates how to design and plan socially inclusive neighbourhoods. And what’s more, it presents three successful real-life examples.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Socially Inclusive Affordable Housing

If you are interested in how to aid social inclusion at every stage of a property’s lifecycle, check out this amazing report. It shows how we can make sure everyone’s voice is heard and everyone’s needs are met during the planning, design, construction, operation, and renewal phase of a building. If you find the good hundred-page-long report a little overwhelming, look at the executive summary as well as pages 25-30 and 38-39 to get an overview of the findings.

The International Social Housing Festival (ISHF)

Looking for some real-life input? The ISHF is a festival that aims to “spark an international debate” about current and future housing issues. It brings together tenants, homeowners, stakeholders, urban planners, scientists, and many others involved in the housing sector.

Curious? Watch this short video from their festival in 2022 to find out more about the ISHF:

Healthy Housing

WHO: Housing and Health Guidelines

These guidelines target policymakers, stakeholders, and others involved in the housing sector. The guidelines discuss the general relation between housing and health and propose recommendations for healthier homes.

Housing For Health: The Guide

From improving nutrition to reducing hazards, this brilliant guide gives an overview of aspects to factor in if you want to make homes healthier and safer. Definitely worth checking out!

Green Housing


Looking for some general insights? Check this out: this handbook provides a good overview of sustainable housing and everything that goes into it (design, construction materials, technologies, etc.). Note: the handbook focuses primarily on developing countries; however, we think the main bits are useful to everyone.

Green Housing Development Guide

This guide defines eight aspects that can help reduce the maintenance costs and environmental impact of affordable housing and improve the lives of residents.

The Guardian: Green Your Home Series

CityChangers who want to start small will enjoy this article series by the Guardian. It provides tips and tricks on how to make your own home more sustainable.

If you are interested in the construction of sustainable buildings, check out this section of our platform. Those of you who’d like to pimp their already existing building might want to learn more about retrofitting.

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