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Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions


Background

Across the United States, many neighborhoods are experiencing dramatic transformations. Parking lots, underused commercial properties, and former industrial sites are being replaced by condominiums, apartments, townhouses, and small-lot single-family homes. These examples of residential infillóbuilding new homes in previously developed areasócan help to create new housing choices, make neighborhoods livelier, increase the tax base, protect rural landscapes, reduce infrastructure costs, and conserve natural resources. Infill can also provide significant environmental benefits when compared with conventional suburban development. Developing more compactly in a location surrounded by existing development means that residents can drive less if they choose, reducing air pollution, and that less paved surface is needed for roads and parking lots, reducing the amount of polluted stormwater runoff flowing into waterways (see Environmental Benefits of Smart Growth for more information).

While examples of successful infill housing projects abound, big questions still remain: Do such examples add up to a fundamental shift in the geography of residential construction? Is infill housing construction on the rise? In which metropolitan regions is the shift to infill most significant? EPA explored these questions in a series of reports released in 2009, 2010, and 2012.

2012 Report

Webinar

Learn about the webinar, Urban Growth Trends in U.S. Metropolitan Regions: A Tale of Two Studies, Exit EPA Disclaimer held on April 5, 2013.

Report cover for Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions: 2012 Edition

Download Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions: 2012 Edition (PDF) (42 pp, 4.5MB, About PDF)

Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions: 2012 Edition (PDF) (42 pp, 4.5MB, About PDF) compares the location of new homes to data about pre-existing land cover to determine where infill development was taking place in 209 U.S. metropolitan regions between 2000 and 2009. The findings affirm the overall conclusions of the previous two reports while painting a more geographically detailed picture of infill development trends.

The report finds that:

The map shows how infill as a percentage of all housing construction varies among U.S. metropolitan regions.

Percentage of New Home Construction That Is Infill, 2000 - 2009. The map shows how infill as a percentage of all housing construction varies among U.S. metropolitan regions.

Percentage of New Home Construction That Is Infill, 2000 - 2009
Sources: EPA analysis of 2009 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 2001 National Land Cover Database, Protected Areas Database of the United States (PADUS) version 1.2, and 2011 Navteq NAVSTREETS

The report includes a listing of resources available to local, regional, and state leaders who want to coordinate land use, housing, and transportation policies to more effectively support infill housing development.

For questions about the 2012 report, please contact Kevin Ramsey (202-566-1153, ramsey.kevin@epa.gov).

Read the 2012 report: Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions: 2012 Edition (PDF) (42 pp, 4.5MB, About PDF).

2009 and 2010 Reports

The 2009 and 2010 editions of this report examined residential building permits in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan regions at the county or jurisdictional level. The 2009 report, Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions 2009 (PDF) (33 pp, 664K, About PDF), examined data from 1990 to 2007. EPA expanded the data set to include 2008 data for a 2010 update of the report, Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions 2010 (PDF) (32 pp, 654K, About PDF). This analysis was intended to clarify:

Both reports indicated that the distribution of residential construction changed significantly in many regions. In more than half of the largest metropolitan areas, the share of new residential building permits that were in urban neighborhoods had dramatically increased.

In many regions, however, a large portion of new residential construction was still taking place on previously undeveloped land on the urban fringe.

The 2010 report showed that:

For questions about the 2009 and 2010 reports, please contact John Thomas (202-566-1285, thomas.john@epa.gov).

Read the 2009 report: Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions 2009 (PDF) (33 pp, 664K, About PDF)

Read the 2010 report: Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions 2010 (PDF) (32 pp, 654K, About PDF)

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