scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Energy rules are contributing to the chill in housing construction

Developers are anticipating a slowdown in construction of housing and office space in the next few years, as persistently high interest rates make financing construction projects more difficult and post-COVID-19 office demand is down. Construction work was underway at the former Edward J. Sullivan courthouse and jail in Cambridge on Oct. 31.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

The Globe’s reporting on the decline in residential construction clearly demonstrates the link between building costs and completed projects (“For builders, new housing just doesn’t pay right now,” Page A1, Nov. 8). We concur that the high costs — of borrowing, construction materials, and regulatory requirements — are causing fewer homes to be built.

Our organization recently commissioned a study by MIT and Wentworth Institute of Technology that looked at the impact of the state’s new “net zero” stretch energy code on the cost of construction. It concluded that building to this higher environmental standard would add between 1.8 percent and 3.8 percent onto the statewide cost of a new single family home; for large multifamily buildings, the added cost is an estimated 2.4 percent.


While these figures may appear marginal to some, the quote in Catherine Carlock’s story from a developer who cites new requirements for energy efficiency demonstrates that these added costs are preventing new housing projects from proceeding, thereby worsening our housing crisis.

Builders believe in the need for more housing while addressing climate change, but the public must understand that the rapid adoption of rigorous new energy codes does come at a cost to housing affordability. We can’t pit one crisis against another.

Jeffrey A. Brem


Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts