Bar Chart Porn


All of the above charts courtesy of Jonathan Rose Companies.  The original source of the GHG data is:  Journal of Urban Planning and Development © ASCE / March 2006.

35 Responses to “Bar Chart Porn”

  1. slag

    Very nice! Thanks for these.

    Density combined with green building is powerful stuff.

  2. Kathryn

    I’m wondering what the definition of dense and not dense are?

    Also where are towns or do we have those any more? And, rural or have all the mega pig farms in Iowa blown that away?

    This validates the hatred of howling exburbia that I developed at a very young age – probably before most of you were born.

    Maybe someone could add up all of the investment the nation made in freeways since Eisenhower launched that work, express it in today’s dollars, and we will understand that we have a right and responsibility to invest in rail based transit to catch up and get those vehicle miles reduced!!

  3. Romaine Q. Sivalinga, Esq.

    “today’s dollars” LOL

  4. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    Look’s like the March 2006 article title is Comparing High and Low Residential Density: Life-Cycle Analysis of Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions” by Jonathan Norman, Heather L. MacLean, and Christopher A. Kennedy (J. Urban Plng. and Devel. Volume 132, Issue 1, pp. 10-21).

  5. Matt the Engineer

    Is urban household energy use really the same as suburban? That seems strange to me, considering the square footage difference if nothing else. The same goes for urban/suburban offices – there must be an advantage to shared ceiling and floor in a heating climate, not to mention the efficiency of a chiller versus a packaged rooftop unit.

    Ah, it looks like they’ve made some assumptions, which is why many of the numbers repeat. So overall these charts probably show conservative estimates of savings.

  6. JB

    The authors of the study are using a new 15-story condo building in Toronto for their “high density” case.

    If you seriously think tens or hundreds of millions of Americans are going to give up their spacious, comfortable single-family homes in the suburbs for a small, high-rise condo, you’re just living in a fantasy world.

  7. David in Burien

    I like it better when you write stuff that pisses people off, Dan. But then, I am subversive like that.

  8. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    There are certainly limitations in any empirical study. However, there is real value in seeing actual measured numbers. I would love to see it replicated for our area… any volunteers?

    I do not expect millions of Americans to give up their spacious (translation: high-upkeep) homes and hours of commuting. However, there are those of us who looked at the options and have already chosen to live in a walkable, transit-friendly urban environment–though I can’t quite afford a new high-rise condo! My personal prediction is that we will see mix of urban and suburban for the foreseeable future.

    p.s. I do live in a fantasy world as much as possible.

  9. BrianM

    I think tens of millions of Americans will end up being happy to have a tent or a cardboard shack over their heads. The mythology that we are a wealthy nation will survive to the end.

    I would actually recommend, gasp, a James Howard Kunstler blog post on his visit to South Africa. THAT, Mr. JB, is the future, despite what Joel Kotkin and that nut from Vancouver, Washington wants to believe.

  10. DaveS

    I sorta wonder what would happen if you built a wall around these hugeasscities. Would they starve and run out of water and energy resources or not? Would they all go crazy once the possibility of escape was removed? If so, then I’d say the actual footprint is a heck of a lot bigger than the city itself. The other day I read that New York City used as much energy as the continent of Africa. Wow! Somehow that does not reassure me that hugeasscities are the solution for very long.

    My advice: ignore that stupid Pope and use condoms. A smaller population is always better than a bigger city. The planet’s getting hotter and smaller, and the tide is gonna be rising.

  11. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    I suspect what you read is that NYC uses as much electricity as Africa, though I suppose perhaps due to the temperature (no heating) and lack of air conditioning it may have been some sort of raw energy measure. Cooking fires are a major source of air pollution in Africa, though, and wood fuel causes deforestation.

    Your main point stands, though. If we went back to sparse hunter-gatherer humanity we would definitely have a smaller footprint. People have only been living in cities for some thousands of years, after all. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and it seems to turn into a “Why are we here?” question. Art? Building narrative? Populate the galaxy? There’s something that drives our species to build, grow, spread.

  12. JB

    Joshua,

    Average commute times tend to increase with density, because of greater congestion and more use of public transportation. New York City has the highest average commute time in the country. It also has the highest rate of commutes by public transportation.

    If you prefer living in a walkable, transit-friendly urban environment to living in a car-oriented suburban one, fine. But most Americans do not seem to share your preference.

  13. Deb Eddy

    This is probably a thread gone dry, but I love these charts.

  14. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    JB, you’re still missing the point. I don’t want “most Americans” to all suddenly move downtown. Of course New York has long commute times–do you know how much it costs to live in Manhattan?!? Those commuters are coming from suburbs.

    What we need is more options, but continuing suburban development (via housing tax incentives and highways) is just more of the same. We need to plan for 20, 30, 50 years out and it’s clear that livable cities need to be part of that.

  15. JB

    Joshua, I think you’re the one missing the point. The reason for those long commute times is density. Because of the hyperdense concentration of jobs in midtown and lower Manhattan, hundreds of thousands of people must converge on a small geographical area every morning to get to work. That means road congestion is terrible and large-scale mass transit is a necessity. And that means long commute times. In less dense communities, where there is less congestion and more workers can drive to work, commute times are shorter. And that is one reason to promote the decentralization of housing and jobs.

  16. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    I see, we are using the word “density” in different meanings. I think of it as population (housing) per square mile, and it sounds like you mean something like square feet of space (housing/office/etc) per square mile. There is definitely something to be said for decentralization–many on this blog dislike NYC for exactly the reasons you mention. (Paris seems popular, though.)

    In your sense I would guess that somewhere like Redmond is actually fairly dense and therefore undesirable–for kicks I put “one microsoft way, redmond, wa” in at walkscore.com: a pathetic 34. I loved living in a small town for the first couple years out of college (walkscore 72!). The problem was the $22k/year my job paid, and this was only about a decade ago. Decentralization of jobs is a tough nut to crack. A job brought my parents to Portland from a small town many many years ago, and that trend continues.

    I think we could see some common ground in supporting the “Urban Center” or “Town Square” concepts of moderately dense housing and jobs located near transit (and outside of the central downtown area). This spreads job density throughout a metropolitan area, reducing congestion. At the same time it adds housing options, so middle class workers don’t feel pushed to outer subdivisions, and hopefully allowing more workers the healthier and cleaner options of walking or biking to work.

  17. Steve

    Not to jump into an argument that looks to be heading into agreement, but I’d throw out that office park codes are a bigger problem than decentralization of jobs.

    Imagine the Microsoft campus as a series of low-rise but walkable buildings in an urban-style streetscape, maybe with some apartments mixed in (i.e. more like Eastlake or Fremont than the ultra-landscaped office park that it is). It seems to me that the sustainability potential would be much higher — workers might walk on the street to buy lunch, the urban-style streets might be less hostile to bikes than suburban-style roads are, transit commuters might walk from the transit center down a real street rather than across parking lots and between landscaped bushes, etc.

    The landscaping and setbacks give the campus the single-purpose nature that it has, and the single-purpose nature is what makes people drive. It’s not wrong to think that Seattle is more sustainable — Seattle generally doesn’t have codes supporting landscaped office parks (that weird campus near Delridge notwithstanding) — but it’s not a matter of location as much as a matter of code.

  18. Kathryn

    Comments worth a read:

    http://seattletransitblog.com/2009/03/20/520-overpass-and-transportation-subsidies/

    And:
    http://seattletransitblog.com/2009/03/23/welcome-to-the-fast-lane/

  19. dan bertolet

    JB@6: Haven’t you heard? The eco-fascists are going to force everyone to live in skyscrapers and give up their cars:

    http://hugeasscity.com/2009/02/12/the-density-zealots-gung-ho-enviros-and-social-engineers-are-going-to-force-all-of-you-to-live-in-buildings-like-this-forever/

    http://hugeasscity.com/2008/04/16/the-eco-fascist-liberals-are-coming-to-take-your-cars-away/

    And they can only be stopped by people like you!

  20. Two Views of Density and Driving | test title

    [...] 2) There’s more to emissions than how much we drive:  Reductions in driving understate the climate benefits of compact neighborhoods.  As this study shows, living in a compact neighborhood doesn’t just reduce how many miles you drive, it also seems to increase the odds that you’ll choose a more fuel efficient car.  And compact neighborhoods can also reduce net emissions for heating, cooling, and powering your home. [...]

  21. Two Views of Density and Driving | Climate Vine

    [...] 2) There’s more to emissions than how much we drive:  Reductions in driving understate the climate benefits of compact neighborhoods.  As this study shows, living in a compact neighborhood doesn’t just reduce how many miles you drive, it also seems to increase the odds that you’ll choose a more fuel efficient car.  And compact neighborhoods can also reduce net emissions for heating, cooling, and powering your home. [...]

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