As we drive to higher density communities in an effort to reduce energy and emissions, the following study highlights the need for granular data when assessing the overall impacts.
Sprawl is not sustainable. That’s the basic assumption shaping high-rises, infill developments, and master plans in cities around the world—not to mention a guiding principle of this publication.
But a new report by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat challenges one of the central tenets of urbanism from a few unexpected angles. Comparing the daily patterns household-to-household, researchers found that certain transportation habits and overall energy use can be more environmentally efficient in suburban housing than residential high-rises.
To date, most research into urban sustainability—in terms of, say, gasoline guzzled, miles traveled, and water, heat and electricity consumption—has not examined household data in such granular detail. Studies that have generally concluded that suburbs are less efficient “are not building studies, but urban scale studies,” said Antony Wood, the executive director of the CTBUH and research professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture. “It’s urban Chicago versus total Chicago.”
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