The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new report examining residential construction trends in America’s metropolitan regions, which finds that nearly three out of four large metropolitan regions saw an increased share of new housing development in previously developed areas during 2005 - 2009 compared to 2000 - 2004.
Known as infill housing, this type of development provides economic and public health benefits to metropolitan areas while protecting the local environment. Infill housing saves money and energy by taking advantage of previous investments in existing infrastructure (such as water, sewer, and roads). This type of development can also help preserve open space, protect natural resources, and reduce transportation emissions and the amount of polluted stormwater washing off new roadways and other paved surfaces.
Infill housing has also been shown to help raise property values, increase a community’s tax base, and attract retail businesses to serve the larger residential population.
This report examines data on the location of new home development in metropolitan regions, as well as data on pre-existing land cover. The report also includes a listing of resources available to local, regional, and state leaders who wish to coordinate land use, housing, and transportation policies.
The findings of the report demonstrate that infill has become a significant portion of the U.S. housing market. Among all 209 metropolitan regions examined, 21 percent of new homes were infill, while the remaining share was built on undeveloped land outside existing communities. Seventy-one percent of large metropolitan regions saw an increased share of infill housing development. Among 51 large metropolitan regions examined in this study, 36 saw an increased share of infill housing development during 2005-2009 compared to 2000 - 2004. For example, eight out of 10 new homes in San Jose, Calif., were infill. New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco all saw a majority of new home construction in previously developed areas during the same time period.
EPA published the first and second editions of Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions in 2009 and 2010. This 2012 report builds on previous work with the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities to measure metropolitan development trends.