How Dense Cities Reap Green Benefits

March 1, 2015, 11am PST by Philip Rojc
What they may lack in peace and quiet, crowded cities more than make up for by requiring residents to live smaller. Tangible environmental benefits follow.

Backed up by research from the OECD, Emily Badger writes about a paradox of density. Long viewed as a blight by conservationists, the dense city actually reduces per capita emissions by making wasteful lifestyles less attractive. Smaller homes and increased reliance on public transit over automobiles make the greatest difference here.

This trend might lead to wider environmental benefits: two families living in an apartment building likely consume less energy than two families in detached houses outside the city. And the more people who pack into cities, the more land we can conserve outside of them.

The article includes a graphic from the OECD plotting per capita transport emissions against urban population density for selected major cities. An interesting takeaway is just how drastically New York City diverges from the rest of the nation in those metrics. 

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Published on Saturday, February 28, 2015 in The Washington Post - Wonkblog