Discussion paper

DP18396 Converting Brown Offices to Green Apartments

The conversion of brown office buildings to green apartments can contribute towards a solution to three pressing issues: oversupply of office in a hybrid-and-remote-work world, shortage of housing, and excessive greenhouse gas emissions. We propose a set of criteria to
identify commercial office properties that are are physically suitable for conversion, yielding about 11% of all office buildings across the U.S. We present a pro-forma real estate model that identifies parameters under which these conversions are financially viable. We highlight several policy levers available to federal, state, and local governments that could accelerate the conversion, and that may be necessary should policymakers desire the creation of affordable
housing. We highlight the role that the Inflation reduction Act could play.


Gupta, A, C Martinez and S Van Nieuwerburgh (2023), ‘DP18396 Converting Brown Offices to Green Apartments‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 18396. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp18396