Friday, February 11, 2011

Environmental Impact of Urban Intensification

Does high-density life have a bigger ecological footprint? and why? (Human Transit, Mar.20, 2010)

Discussed here: Forced March To The Cities (New Geography, Mar. 15,2010)

Also discussed here: Consuming Australia: Main Findings (20 age pdf, Australian Conservation Foundation, Centre for Integrated Sustainability Analysis at the University of Sydney, 2007)

Urban planners frequently advocate higher population density in the urban core, because of the more efficient provision of municipal services such as water, fire, police, road maintenance and waste collection than in a low or medium density city – with all of the negative environmental aspects of the former as well. This article, based on a life cycle analysis of Australian energy and water consumption, compares high density, high rise buildings to medium density, single detached homes, and comes to the conclusion that intensification can produce unintended results- a higher footprint because the environmental costs of municipal services are outweighed by the greater impact of affluent life styles of those in high rises.

Key Quotes:

“the carbon footprint of high-rise urban residents is higher than that of medium- and low-density suburban homes, due to such things as the cost of heating common areas, including parking garages, and the highly consumptive lifestyles of more affluent urbanites”

“Indirect impacts of consumption outweigh direct household use of energy, water, and land.”

“Affluent areas have higher environmental impacts.”

“Inner cities are consumption hotspots.”

“resource-waste is a feature of affluent lifestyles, which are more concentrated in the inner city”

“Bigger households have smaller per-person footprints than small ones. Sharing between households can reduce environmental footprint.”
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