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Policy Center


Buildings provide people with safety, shelter and comfort. But policies, practices and attitudes within the building sector have long served to marginalize underserved communities and people of color, leaving them with worse infrastructure, higher energy bills and less protection from natural disasters.


For decades, exclusionary zoning laws and transportation policies have often cut these communities off from jobs and commerce. “Environmental redlining” has led to the dumping of waste and toxic materials in these communities.


Studies show that lower income Americans are forced to spend more of their income on energy than those in higher income brackets. Lower income communities are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change. In addition, lower income communities are often not as resilient to natural disasters.

To address these inequities, Congress should provide increased funding to lower income communities  and to require federal agencies to more carefully consider the environmental justice impacts of its policies on lower income communities and communities of color.

Children in Library


What Is Environmental Justice? 

Children who live near freeways, ports, and railyards are five times more likely to have lung damage than kids who don’t. This eye-opening statistic shows how environmental justice issues impact countless vulnerable communities, as polluters are far more likely to target these areas—and their residents pay the highest price. 

Policy Ideas

Energy Efficient Public Buildings Act (H.R.1993)

Directs the Secretary of Energy to provide grants for energy improvements to certain public buildings, and for other purposes.

Open Back Better Act of 2021 (H.R.1485)

A bill to provide additional funds for Federal and State facility energy resiliency programs.

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