The Housing Value Assessment Methodology (VAM)

About the Housing VAM

The Housing VAM is a rapid and assisted assessment targeted at national housing programmes and large housing projects, with valuable feedback on gaps and potential to shift towards more sustainable construction.

Upon completing an assessment, users will receive a tailored feedback report. The feedback report provides information on gaps and main areas of improvement to improve the housing programme or project. It likewise provides links to main housing standards, guidelines and regulations, SDGs and other tools and resources

The Housing VAM combines a qualitative and quantitative analysis method through four pillars of analysis: context governance and regulations; resources and circularity; environmental impact and resiliency; housing and urban design. The assessment has 4 sections and is further divided into 14 sub-sections.

The Housing VAM Sections

Context Analysis and Regulatory Framework

The housing programme is aware of and complies with the regulatory, cultural, environmental, economic, and social standards applicable to the local context applicable to the local context, it fulfils the population needs, as well as applies international standards and regulations.

Housing Rights

International human rights law recognizes everyone’s right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate housing.

The right to adequate housing contains freedoms.These freedoms include: protection against forced evictions and the arbitrary destruction and demolition of... one’s home; the right to be free from arbitrary interference with one’s home, privacy and family; and the right to choose one’s residence, to determine where to live and to freedom of movement.

The right to adequate housing contains entitlements.These entitlements include: security of tenure; housing, land and property restitution; equal and non-discriminatory access to adequate housing; and participation in housing-related decision-making at the national and community levels.

Read More


Up to what extent will the housing units be affordable to all households? The objective of this section is to determine whether units will be affordable, it is necessary to conduct an assessment to determine beneficiaries ability to pay, create a cost analysis of housing inputs such as construction finance, land purchase/lease, labour costs and building materials and align end-user finance with unit costs. Housing is deemed affordable if household expenditure for servicing of mortgages or rent plus maintenance do not exceed 30% of monthly household income.

Governance and Management

Sustainable governance and management play an important role in strengthening sustainable practices across construction processes and the whole building life cycle. Open and efficient project strategy, construction monitory and post occupancy evaluation techniques enable time, cost, and resource savings. Likewise, participatory and transparent building processes that engage the community and promote local economy are necessary for sustainability.

Neighbourhood Design

Sustainable housing goes beyond the building envelope and understand the relationship with the surrounding neighbourhood and the wider city. Design that promotes a compact urban density, gender inclusive design. and understands an adequate level of mixed land use, social mix, and affordable housing solutions for all income levels. Good location and street network design that responds to climate, mobility and cultural needs of pedestrians and leaves space to other vehicles including access to public transport and alternative solutions such as non-motorized transport and electrical vehicles.

Housing Design

Housing design plays a significant role in overall sustainability of buildings reducing energy consumption and housing carbon footprint.

Optimizing building, operations, and maintenance cost to improving residents’ life quality, experience and comfort and improving lifespans and decommissioning processes.


While all stages of a building's life cycle, including construction and demolition, produce carbon emissions, the building’s operational phase accounts for 80-90% of emissions resulting from energy use, mainly for heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, and appliances (Common Carbon Metric, UNEP). Low-emission housing can reduce energy costs and contribute to the elimination of energy poverty, improve human health through better indoor and outdoor air quality, contribute to the creation of local jobs and the post COVID-19 green recovery and help to implement a circular economy. Low-emission housing also helps to adapt to a changing climate.


Safe and readily available water is important for public health, whether it is used for drinking, domestic use, food production or recreational purposes. Improved water supply and sanitation, and better management of water resources, can boost countries’ economic growth and can contribute greatly to poverty reduction.

Circular Design and Resource Efficiency

The building and construction sector can illustrate the impacts of the current high urbanisation rates on our planet. The sector accounted for 36% of final energy use and 37% of... energy and process-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2021. The production of steel and cement alone accounts for about 10% of global CO2 emissions — making the building sector the single most significant industry in terms of emissions. If materials such as steel, glass and cement were to continue to be used primarily to meet demand, this would consume up to 80% of the CO2 emissions budget of the 1.5-degree target. Additionally, the global use of materials has quadrupled in the past 50 years, half of it being used for buildings and construction. The sector also generates 30-40% of total waste, around 3 billion tonnes per year with the trend increasing every year.

Read More

Environmental Footprint

The building life cycle is a science-based method of assessing potential environmental impacts associated to a construction through all its life .These impacts are quantified as the CO2 footprint of a building, which includes emissions embodied carbon (materials) and operational carbon (energy use). Governments are increasingly recognising the need to legislate to reduce whole life carbon (that is operational and embodied carbon emissions, WBLCA ) in construction. LCAs are becoming mandatory throughout the world.

Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience

In the coming decades, hundreds of millions of people in urban areas are likely to be affected by rising sea levels, increased precipitation, inland floods, more frequent and stronger cyclones and storms, and periods of more extreme heat and cold. Consequently, the lack of climate change prevention and adequate housing will have a particularly negative impact on the urban poor as already, more than 1 billion people live in slums and informal settlements which are highly vulnerable to climate change.

Global warming is also likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052, and approximately 3°C in 2100 based on current national government commitments.

Health and Wellbeing

Ensure end-users health and wellbeing throughout the whole building use stage, aiming for safe spaces that prevent from hygienic hazards, pests, indoor pollution, or other events that can cause threads to physical or mental health.

Waste Management

Waste from construction, infrastructure and home waste is increasing globally. It is thrown on to the streets, in drains, dumped next to communities or openly burnt. Not only does... this make our cities unsightly and unattractive, but it also leads to flooding, air and water pollution, diseases, and other health problems. Reducing, reusing and upcycling waste both in construction, housing operational period and deconstruction are a critical requirement in order to reduce emissions.

Waste management considers the analysis of the waste generated during the construction process, the usage of materials that are decomposable or recyclable, as well as house waste sorting and recycling processes, and disposal via waste management structures and or programmes at the local level. A more innovative approach to waste management also promotes green jobs, renewable energies and aims for self-sufficiency by closing the loop for relevant resources.

Read More

General Programme Information

The programme information is an overview of the background of the housing programme or large projects.

Total Number of Projects Assessed

4 Projects

Total Built Up Area Covered by Projects

1000 sq.m.

Total Investment

$ 13,496,927

Total Population Catered by the Projects

500 Million

Project Locations

The United Nations RE-Think Buildings Programme is a joint initiative led by UN-Habitat in partnership with UNEP and UNOPS, and in support of the One Planet Network Sustainable Buildings and Construction (SBC) Programme for SDG12. The overall aim of the joint programme is “Promoting a common approach to supporting countries in leveraging their buildings, construction, and housing sector to achieve the SDGs”.

The RE-Think Buildings Programme is made possible thanks to the Multi-partner Trust Fund for Sustainable Consumption and Production.

The Multi-Partner Trust Fund for SDG 12, a pooled fund established by six UN Agencies, is the means to accelerate the implementation of SDG 12 and deliver on Agenda 2030. The Fund supports countries that are ready to implement SCP, with tailored support to national level stakeholders.

Funding has been made possible thanks to the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), and the Government of Denmark.