"You probably don't need a sophisticated climate model to tell you that a compact, car-free apartment in the city has a smaller carbon footprint than a 3,000 square-foot single-family house in the suburbs," writes Emily Badger. "But add all of those big, far-flung homes together, and their cumulative impact starts to look really disproportionate. In many metropolitan areas, this means that a narrow slice of households are responsible for a vastly larger share of the region's greenhouse gas emissions."
"Just how much larger are we talking? An interesting new study out of Switzerland, published in the American Chemical Society's journal Environmental Science & Technology, looked at this question in a single town there." By examining 3,238 households in the town of Wattwil, researchers calculated that twenty-one percent of the households produced 50 percent of the area's housing and mobility-related emissions, says Badger.
"The main culprits? Large homes requiring a lot of energy to heat and cool, and relatively long commutes."