The issues this paper discusses–housing affordability, environmental equity, indoor and outdoor air quality, responsible use of natural resources, transportation and neighborhood character–are all connected. Green affordable housing is especially important in the context of the disproportionate effects that low-wealth households experience from environmental degradation, including air, water, and noise pollution.

To frame this discussion, Part II of this paper discusses the concept of environmental justice, a relatively new topic in the arena of American environmental concerns. It looks at how the concept has evolved over time, to the point that it is no longer concerned only with disparate impacts of environmental hazards but also the equitable distribution of environmental benefits. Part III looks at what constitutes affordable housing, and how supplying it is a function of local governments’ land use authority. Part IV merges the concepts of affordable housing and environmental justice in the paradigm of green housing, demonstrating why both affordability and environmental justice are closely tied to issues of energy efficiency, transportation, indoor air quality, water conservation, and other attributes of green housing. Part V and VI conclude with observations about how law and policy can help establish comprehensive plans and legal mandates to insure that green features and affordability are incorporated in housing planning, as a matter of environmental justice.