With Higher Densities Come Smaller Footprints

This article's author reports his and economist Matthew Kahn's recent findings on metropolitan areas and carbon emissions. As it turns out, living in a high density area is one of the best things one can do for the environment.

1 minute read

February 12, 2009, 8:00 AM PST

By Judy Chang


"In only four cases in the entire 66-city sample were carbon emissions higher in central cities than in suburbs. In Los Angeles, central-city residents are using far more electricity than their suburban counterparts--possibly because newer, energy-efficient houses tend to be in the suburbs and because the urban core has many large homes."

"The data suggest a strong general pattern: households in dense urban areas have significantly lower carbon emissions than households in the suburbs.

So California environmentalists have things exactly backward. If climate change is our major environmental challenge, the state should actively encourage new construction, rather than push it toward other areas.

It should ease restrictions in the urban cores of San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego. More building there would reduce average commute lengths and improve per-capita emissions. Higher densities could also justify more investment in new, low-emissions energy plants."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 in The DC Examiner

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