Let’s See If This Blog Can Accomplish Something Useful For Once

I’m doing some research on the relationship between density and energy use in buildings.  Can any of you big-brained readers point me to sources of the best available science?

The EIA’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey and Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey are good sources, but do not provide quantitative data on density.

In general, energy use per household can be expected to decline as density increases, because smaller units require less energy to heat/cool/light, and because multifamily units share walls, which reduces heat loss.  But unfortunately there are heaps of variables that can complicate this relationship.

Ideally, my goal is to establish an order of magnitude approximation, as in:  an X percent increase in housing unit density will result in a Y percent reduction in building energy use.

Please help!

50 Responses to “Let’s See If This Blog Can Accomplish Something Useful For Once”

  1. Michael McGinn

    Maybe something here? http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/articles/

  2. Kathryn

    If you get into specific building types, you might be in for a bit of a shock.

    http://reversezone.blogdns.com/blosxom.cgi/More_on_Which_is_Greener_Houses_or_Apartments.html

  3. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    Personally I thought the bar charts you posted were pretty good. They’re based on some real data on new construction in Toronto.

    However, some text from Kathryn’s link shows a problem: “A person in [an 85-year-old] high-rise building [in Melbourne, Australia] consumes nearly 3 times as much energy as one living in a townhouse. This particular survey was based on utility billing data, plus building and unit audits, plus some whole of building load profiles with on-site logging equipment. Several CMHC reports going back for decades also wonder at this finding. CMHC is surprised and blames air leaks.” The article says two thirds of the energy went to the electric hot water and heating systems.
    So while we can Blame Where The Buildings Are for transit reasons, we also need to retrofit.

  4. Patrick

    Try this Glaeser article: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14238

  5. Dan Staley

    o Friedman, Avi. 2007. Sustainable Residential Development: Planning and Design for Green Neighborhoods. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill.

    o Kahn, Matthew E. 2006. Green Cities. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

    Gimme a ring, Dan’l, if you want some detail out of here, the first ref especially can be useful and we can talk about implications.

    The Kathryn link is misleading, as this is per capita, I’ve taken apart this flawed paper elsewhere. Simply, as soon as a teen capita moves out of a house in a McSuburb, there goes your advantage and you are left with a wasteful volume, albeit more quiet.

  6. Kathryn

    Well Dan started it by asking if specific building forms could be tied in some fashion to energy use.

    Earlier postings showed clearly that, while improvements may be made in buildings, the issue is energy used for commuting which is largely by auto still. Also, densities are usually measured by square mile for good reason. Obviously, if no one drives or even takes mostly empty transit long distances we would be in great shape.

    If you want to have a life where everyone does not need to travel long distances to accomplish anything, some level of density and mix of uses is necessary in every community, along with fully utilized mass transit.

    I don’t think anyone here would say that McMansions, or even any form of bedroom community divorced from a walk to local social and economic life, and good transit to regional opportunities, is acceptable.

    I have a funny feeling that other countries have a stronger set of constraints on where people are allowed to live and also have a stronger socio-economic focus on supporting areas where people live. It appeared to me from the NSW study and the Canadian blog, that family sized row houses was most ideal. But, their baseline is different. For example, is there a local school that the kids can walk to? Is there a local shopping district? That is, are we talking about places like Brooklyn and do they even have places like Sammamish and suburbs like those going up near North Bend?

    If we don’t look at this from a macro and micro systems point of view, and think there are silver bullets, we will be solving the wrong problems.

    If only Union Street would offer what Madison Park offers….

  7. Kathryn

    Matthew Kahn’s Blog. Search for density. Skip the first article, the rest is really neat.

    http://greeneconomics.blogspot.com/search?q=density

    Dan — I hope you can write the ‘big idea’ thought piece.

  8. Dan Staley

    The NSW study IIRC specifically called out that the greater per capita consumption in their paper was due in large part to…consumption, and also transport was not calculated. Nonetheless, more wealthy people in infill areas consume more stuff.

    As to building form, shared walls and ceilings reduce energy consumption. Older SFD built prior to 1979 have higher energy consumption per unit area/volume due to inefficiencies. Living where the live-work gap is high means more energy consumption. Etc. ~45% of energy consumption in this country is in buildings, and this simple fact is a powerful driver.

  9. Kathryn

    So with a narrow focus, the good bet would be to show something that measures energy consumption based on green building practices and green retro-fitting versus older buildings?

    Kind of difficult to compare really well between building types not having residential LEED standards yet, though.

  10. Dan Staley

    In my view you want to compare apples to apples for performance, then add on the extras. For example, SFAs use x BTU/m^3, SFDs y BTU/m^3 and so on to heat and cool in z climate regime. THEN you add consumptive use, transport, etc. Otherwise you get these well-intentioned but deliberate misquotable papers like the Myors, O’Leary and Helstroom paper quoted above.

    If I were to do the study, you’d have to have performance by year range, size (by volume), and climate (either USDA zones, Sunset zones (4x as many, though) or Köppen classification. The Friedman I cited above starts to get at this, but what I’m describing is more like an IEA- or EIA-funded study. You’d think this work was done by now, and maybe it sort of is, as the IBC had to have some basis for requiring minimum R-classifications for walls and ceilings…

  11. Finishtag

    You could compare between the multifamily examples and the single-family examples certified by LEED for Homes.

    LEED for Homes is different from LEED NC, however, because in LEED for Homes Multifamily, each individual unit is certified, not the whole building (weird, eh?)

  12. Dan Staley

    That would be a category for comparison only, Finishtag.

    I’m talking about a baseline for the extant housing stock in this country, in order to craft policy for efficiency gains. So, for example when the study is completed you know that the typical 1400 sf SFD in USDA Zone 6 built between 1945-1960 is 21% less efficient than a 1600 sf SFD in USDA Zone 6 built between 1960-1975, you know where to target retrofitting policies.

  13. carless in pdx

    People in the PacNW shouldn’t even be using A/C during the summer, as there should be no need in a well-designed building. Many times the older townhouses take advantage of natural ventilation that, well, seems lacking in a lot of highrises, which tend to use floor-to-ceiling glass, which is awful for efficiency: they overheat!

    The argument that density itself will cure all of the energy issues is a false one, as we use a lot of energy in our buildings. As Dan pointed out, ~45% of all energy consumption in the US is tied to buildings.

    On the other hand, small studio units are perhaps the most efficient housing type for single people, as they combine small square footages with shared walls/ceilings, minimizing heat loss (I went through a winter here in Portland where I never even needed to turn the heat on, just because of the stove, TV, and computer generated a significant amount of heat).

    Sun shades should be used on every building on the southern facade as well.

  14. Mike Pickford

    Absolutely not quantitative, but one of my favorite New Yorker articles: http://www.greenbelt.org/downloads/resources/newswire/newswire_11_04GreenManhattan.pdf

  15. Dan Staley

    People in the PacNW shouldn’t even be using A/C during the summer, as there should be no need in a well-designed building.

    Yes, and this neglects 50-60% of the dwellings built prior to 1980. What was the point again?

    The argument that density itself will cure all of the energy issues is a false one

    Glad you recognized no one here is making it.

    Sun shades should be used on every building on the southern facade as well.

    So glad you’ll pay for it.

  16. Kathryn

    Gee that New Yorker article is a really narrow view.

    Agree that human beings need to live more densely, but he totally misses the point that constraining human settlement to that which is self-sustaining, not building huge buildings, is the need here.

    Manhattan creates a carbon footprint way beyond that created by the people who live there. Do you know how many people commute to Manhattan by airplane? For starters there is at least one flight every hour between DC and NYC. Add in the train. Basically, the financial base far outstrips the residents.

    Regarding scalability of suburbs. Brooklyn was one. Redmond is one. These are or will have to be scaled and balanced. Interesting that the author, admitting that he creates a huge carbon footprint, claims he lives in the ‘country’. As he is not a farmer, I contend he is a suburbanite and should be living in a dense, bounded ‘town’ so he can walk to the blockbuster, or walk out to the woods if so inclined. A real farmer, especially your small farmer, is unlikely to have the money for repeated excursions to blockbuster divorced from necessary trips.

    So DC isn’t walkable? I hear what was said ironically about the narrow streets of NY versus the adaptability of the wide DC boulevards to the auto. Actually, DC is the one place where I did not need a car. Could bus or Metro to work. Could hike around anywhere. Or, take transit out to see my family who lived near Metro. Part of the fun was to hike through the back of Mount Pleasant through those strange parks and dead ends to Adams Morgan or through Rock Creek Park to the zoo. Maybe the street plan was just too confusing for him?

    Problem with the DC area? They allowed people to build homes in ‘the country’, then subdivisions supported by roads. They did not constrain human habitation. Old towns are swallowed up into howling ex-burban sprawl.

    Comparing cities and settlement patterns within the BosWash is a bit of a losing proposition. Of more concern is newly growing cities making the SAME mistakes in creating sprawl: Phoenix, Denver, Austin come to mind. Or older cities seeing new sprawl spurts. Grand Rapids Michigan, for example.

    Of huge concern to me is the nature of our own Growth ‘Accomodation’ Act. You should hear some of the stories I hear about the rural areas being dotted with strip malls and housing developments out wherever someone convinces a farmer to sell up. Human beings have to be bounded into towns with tightly constrained borders, beyond which we should only see farms and open space. Things will dense up then, but maybe not as much as one thinks with the birth rate going down and more steady state economic approaches. Many Manhattan Island if you will, each pretty self-sustaining.

  17. Sara N

    Dan S – Could you lead me to the places where you have refuted the study to which Kathryn linked? I’m working on some comments to a letter from a Seattle resident to City Council and state legislators that uses that article to make a case for townhouse-only zoning in Seattle station areas. I can put a lot of the pieces together myself, but if you have some analysis available somewhere, I’d love to cite it.
    Thanks.

  18. JB

    The Kathryn link is misleading, as this is per capita, I’ve taken apart this flawed paper elsewhere. Simply, as soon as a teen capita moves out of a house in a McSuburb, there goes your advantage and you are left with a wasteful volume, albeit more quiet.

    I don’t understand how this is supposed to be a flaw. Yes, if the number of people living in a dwelling goes down, energy use per capita for that dwelling will (probably) go up. So what? Obviously, household size can change regardless of density and type of dwelling. Any differences in the average number of occupants per dwelling would already be reflected in per capita energy use data.

  19. JB

    In general, energy use per household can be expected to decline as density increases, because smaller units require less energy to heat/cool/light, and because multifamily units share walls, which reduces heat loss. But unfortunately there are heaps of variables that can complicate this relationship.

    Yes, it is very complicated. To isolate the effect of density alone you would need to control for all confounding variables, such as differences in climate (affects energy use for heating and cooling) and differences in the age of the buildings (newer buildings tend to be more energy-efficient than older ones). Other complicating issues are energy use in common areas (heating, cooling, lighting and power in apartment/condo buildings for things like elevators, lobbies, corridors, parking garages, swimming pools, clubhouses, common laundry rooms, etc.), and differences in energy use attributable to construction methods and materials. High-rise buildings tend to use much more steel and concrete than single-family homes, and there may be substantial differences in energy needed for the production of those materials and the construction of the building itself.

  20. Dan Staley

    JB, that unit is going to be heated and cooled to the same temperature regardless of how many capitas are in the unit. The number of capitas drives water usage (and hot water), but not BTUs for temperature controlled microclimate. The capitas differentially use appliances that must be driven by energy, but your incorrect assertion that HH size can change regardless of the dwelling type is very wrong – in America, we generally don’t house 6 people in a 1100 sf apartment, esp in a gentrifying infill area.

    Sara N, Dan should have sent you the link. Not sure that’s cite-worthy, but let me know if you need help on the embedded links.

  21. JB

    but your incorrect assertion that HH size can change regardless of the dwelling type is very wrong – in America, we generally don’t house 6 people in a 1100 sf apartment, esp in a gentrifying infill area.

    Yes, 6 people in a 1100sf apartment isn’t likely. And neither is 12 people in a 2200sf single-family detached house. I have no idea why you think this means that household size cannot change regardless of density and dwelling type. Yes, a teen living with his parents in a single-family suburban house is likely to move out at some point when he goes to college or gets married or whatever. So what? A teen living with his parents in an urban apartment is likely to do the same thing.

  22. Dan Staley

    The point is that dwelling type drives person count in that dwelling. But you are heating and cooling the volume regardless of person count. That is a basic fact.

    The next issue is that currently urban infill is richer people who consume more stuff, which can skew the analysis, and the AUS paper calls this out.

    A 2200 sf SFD consumes more resources than a 1100 sf apartment. Sorry. That’s how it is. Propping up wishes that everyone wants and needs a SFD on a 10,000 sf lot isn’t real on the ground. An honest assessment of the tradeoffs – like what scholars are doing right now – is necessary for policy development. That is: folks will make decisions on locational choice soon based on fuel prices. Will they then trade off space for lower prices? These choices need to be supported. Wishing everyone wants to live in a McSuburb doesn’t support locational choice decisions.

  23. Alex Steffen

    It’s worth really honing in on the difficulties inherent in our current conception of per capita energy use itself.

    The actual energy used by a resident directly is a fraction of the energy that resident may cause to be used.

    Not only is there enormous embedded energy in the buildings and infrastructure of the city, but there are all manner of public services and support systems at work to make possible the life that resident leads, all themselves using energy. From what I understand, this “public footprint” is pretty substantial, though all this stuff is poorly measured and understood.

    But we do have strong reasons to believe that both the embedded energy costs and the public support operating costs are far lower for compact communities:

    long supply lines increase service costs in terms of energy (e.g., sheriffs driving country roads protect fewer people while burning more gas than an urban officer on patrol);

    extended infrastructure demands more embedded energy and upkeep (e.g., running sewer connections to 20 people over a 1/4 mile of pipe demands a lot more pipe and a lot more labor per capita than running comparable sewer connections for 200);

    people in compact communities tend to have less stuff and share more, meaning the per capita embedded energy cost of their lifestyles is less (e.g., an urban dweller may belong to a gym and shares machines with other patrons, while a suburbanite owns a home gym);

    then there is the land use-transportation connection, well-proven and no surprise here (e.g., people who live in sprawling communities drive more);

    I could go on, but you get the point. I suspect that when we get an accurate read on all the data, we’ll find that even modestly ambitious bright green urbanism (say 1,000 sf townhouses/ small homes at even 10 units/acre in well-designed communities with smart infrastructure) will be perhaps demand as much as a fifth less energy overall than even newer “green” suburban communities — while generating comparable personal wealth and an arguably nicer QoL. And once you start to really push the boundaries with smart infrastructure, shared goods systems, zero-energy homes and so on, we might be looking at an order of magnitude less, or more.

    I’ll be the first to admit, though, that a lot of work remains to be done to back up that suspicion.

  24. Dan Staley

    Let me just say that I gave a presentation in Dallas this past week about urban forests and compact development that had similar argumentation to Alex’s points above.

    And in the intro I asserted that more and more compact developments were being created for various reasons, one of them being that they are cheaper in the long run and that means lower taxes. Of the several hundred watching, about half were Suthin’ boahs who don’t care for no close neighbors or no taxin’ and spendin. By the time I was done laying out why cities don’t want to keep building the way they have been, the majority of the boahs weren’t smirking any more and they got it. Then they were listening to what I had to say.

    Happens every time, and the key is framing it in a way that the audience understands. Note the way Alex lays out arguments across a broad spectrum – I guess the pros reflexively know about the broad audience thing. ;o)

    The other, explicit key is an implicit feature of this blog – we don’t have a density problem, we have a design problem. When folk make the hard decision to avoid living in a McSuburb in East BFE because of the transport costs, we are going to have to ensure the closer-in places are nice places to live and come home to.

  25. dan bertolet

    This Brookings paper gives a good summary:
    http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2008/05_carbon_footprint_sarzynski.aspx

    “Carbon-reduction benefits from more spatially compact and mixed-use developments that have access to rapid transit include:

    • Reduced residential heating and cooling costs owing to smaller homes and
    shared walls in multi-unit dwellings
    • The use of district energy systems for cooling, heating, and power generation
    • Lower electricity transmission and distribution line losses
    • Shorter freight and personal trips
    • More use of public transit, and more walking and cycling instead of car trips
    • Reduced waste streams
    • Reduced municipal infrastructure requirements, including the reduced need
    for local street construction and shorter electric, communication, water, and
    sewage lines, requiring less energy and water treatment
    • The use of microgrids to meet local electricity requirement with highly efficient
    distributed power generation
    • Reuse of existing structures”

  26. Kathryn

    Umm The data sheets talk about density in general, per capita residential energy use and road based auto and truck use.

    Are you still asking about building styles? Or, are these measures good enough?

    Obviously, Seattle perform less well due to all of the roads and driving, yes?

  27. Dan Staley

    Kathryn, the data sheets are analyzed in that way for different policy reasons and are looking at different things; this link doesn’t get to what Dan’l needs specifically, but reinforces his assertions (and many of mine as well), in addition to having needed numbers in one place.

    Seattle area is solidly in the middle for daily VMT, due in part to its relatively low density. Surely it should be higher.

  28. Dan Staley

    Forgot: here is an optic for US per capita CO2 emissions (hi res).

  29. Kathryn

    I think we all agree that sprawling road based development should end. And, that the costs of transit, as well as, efficiencies in the delivery and use of energy resources, is best supported by density. The debates rage over how dense and whether any single building is the same as overall density.

    I think the linear graph that was desired is affected by a bit more complexity. All I have been arguing is that socio-economic factors and outcomes are part of the picture. It takes really really strict urban and town boundaries, inside which are densities that serve all household types and social life IMO.

    The Boston area, which has a huge investment in mass transit, considerable sprawl, and aging buildings, is massively cutting back on transit service. If they focused the limited transit to where they want housing and economic life, then maybe some of the sprawl would die off. As it is, the cutbacks will put a lot more cars on the road because they historically did not address the growth of the suburbs.

    There are no magic bullets. It takes regional and national systems analysis to determine where resources shall be applied.

  30. dan cortland

    But you are heating and cooling the volume regardless of person count. That is a basic fact.

    With electric baseboard heating, wouldn’t it save energy to turn the heat off in Junior’s bedroom and keep the door closed now that he’s moved out?

  31. Kathryn

    So many Dans. Better they rent out Junior’s room. Of course, most zoning does not allow that. Better yet they live in a rowhouse. Best they can walk to shops for daily stuff and have a bus to downtown and elsewhere like Seattle has in Madison Park.

    I am embarrassed to say my sister has a 5000 sq ft house on a quarter of an acre. She has seven people in the house. She started by turning the basement into a barely legal apartment to the horror of the neighbors. As soon as one kid grows up and moves out, she brings in another family member.

    But, you CAN’T walk to anything near her. Bus service is some miles away. The lots are way too big. The amount of space used for roads is way too much. I’m totally offended that her husband bought that house and I’m totally PO’d that the State of Maryland allowed land right on the watershed to be built on that way. And, proceeded to build 6 lane roads out to those subdivisions.

    The fact of the sprawling subdivision is the problem.

    If you try to say the problem is that we do not build high rises without looking at demographics and economics, then you will be solving the wrong problem.

  32. JB

    I think we all agree that sprawling road based development should end

    I certainly don’t agree with that. The fundamental reason why we have so much sprawling road based development is because that type of development provides people with things they value, most obviously more affordable housing and the advantages of car travel. Unless you can give people a clear and compelling reason why it is in their own interests to give up their spacious suburban homes and the speed and convenience of car travel for urban condos and mass transit, they’re just not going to do it. Saying things like “We should stop building sprawl” isn’t likely to get you very far.

    And blaming sprawl on zoning laws or commercial developers isn’t going to work, either. Zoning laws aren’t just arbitrary rules. They’re outcomes of the democratic process. When people vote for laws that limit residential densities or the mixing of residential and commercial development, they’re doing it for what they believe to be legitimate reasons. Protecting their home values. Preventing congestion, or noise, or crime. Preserving the character of their neighborhood. That sort of thing. If you want to change zoning laws, you have to address these concerns.

    In my view, there simply is no way you’re ever going to be able to make an urban transit-based lifestyle more attractive to most Americans than a suburban, car-based one.

  33. Kathryn

    I’m talking about places where there were FARMS that should have stayed that way. We do have a right to stop up zoning where inappropriate. No one gave anyone a God given right to build whatever the hell they want where ever they want. Otherwise throw out all zoning.

    Why is everyone trying to say the alternative to a McMansion is a high rise condo? Is it because some people are trying to flip the suburban problem into a Seattle problem? When the reality is cities and old suburbs are already pretty dense.

  34. Dan Staley

    With electric baseboard heating, wouldn’t it save energy to turn the heat off in Junior’s bedroom and keep the door closed now that he’s moved out?

    I’ve lived in many places. Seattle was the only place where I had that sort of heating.

    Why is everyone trying to say the alternative to a McMansion is a high rise condo?

    Nowhere have I said this. In fact, in numerous places on this blog I’ve said the opposite.

    And blaming sprawl on zoning laws or commercial developers isn’t going to work, either. Zoning laws aren’t just arbitrary rules. They’re outcomes of the democratic process.

    Right. No one except your strawman said they were. And the democratic process is getting rid of them.

    there simply is no way you’re ever going to be able to make an urban transit-based lifestyle more attractive to most Americans than a suburban, car-based one.

    When fuel is $6-7-8/gal, get back to us and give us your estimate of how many people are leaving the “freedom” of automobile dependence and the “value” of a large house to store their cr*p. The issue is changing the paradigm proactively to allow choices, not to imprison people while society reacts to something it should have been proactive about. There is a market demand, apparently, for Hannity-like fear pieces about socialist-communist plannurz trying to force everyone into a communitarian lifestyle. That argumentation is an indicator of certain ideological weaknesses, and that is all – it is not a blueprint for useful policy.

    —–

    At any rate, the topic is the carbon-energy footprint of buildings and which building types are more efficient.

  35. Dan Nairn

    Fascinating discussion! I don’t have much to add – just thought I would throw another Dan into the mix.

    Finding this number you are looking for, however difficult, is certainly a worthy goal. Common sense tells us that shared walls save energy and so forth, but our culture so highly values the attachment of empirical validation to these principles. So that’s what we have to provide, even if it requires some honesty about the messiness of it all.

  36. JB

    Dan Staley,

    Since fuel is NOT $6-8/gallon, you’re the one who needs to get back to us if and when it does reach that level. There is little reason to believe that even $8/gallon gasoline would provoke a massive realignment in American housing and transportation patterns. It is far easier for families to adapt to higher gas prices by switching to more fuel-efficient cars or through various conservation measures (carpooling, telecommuting, combining trips, etc.) than by radically changing their basic lifestyle.

    The issue of the carbon footprint and energy efficiency of different types of building is, as I explained in an earlier post, a complex empirical question that can only be answered through empirical analysis. Even if it does turn out that “compact development” has significantly lower energy and emissions costs than suburbs and sprawl, Americans seem to be willing to pay the higher costs of a suburban lifestyle in return for the benefits it provides them.

  37. Dan Staley

    JB:

    you’re the one who needs to get back to us if and when it does reach that level

    Then it will be too late. Argumentation like the b’quoted is not thinking ahead and thus is flawed wrt societal readiness for increased locational choices.

    There needs to be different types of zoning so society can be much more flexible when prices go up. There is absolutely reason to believe that there will be population shifts when resource constraints, climate change, and wage changes cause migration – this is a simple remembering our history.

    This is why you start now, see, so there is plenty of time. Not hard to grasp at all, and why there is an apparent policy shift.

    Lastly, the empirical analysis on your statement in the last para has been done. Thanks for pointing out that artificially cheap oil has effects on behavior and locational choice. No one is arguing that everyone will change. Certainly there will be some folk in McSuburbs, and the houses that won’t get occupied will eventually come down. Folks are already discussing that as well, and what to do with the now-vacant land after the houses come down. See, folk are thinking ahead.

  38. Dan Joshua Daniel Franklin

    Dan Staley, would it be possible to post slides from the Dallas presentation? Sounds very interesting if it’s not a trade secret.

    JB, you’ve almost convinced me to move to an outer suburb from my current moderately dense U-District rental location within walking distance of parks, grocery stores, bookstores, and excellent transit options. Can you explain to me how it would make life for my family of four “far easier”?

  39. Sara N

    JB, I’d like to echo DJDF above. Can you tell me how the outer suburb’s “more affordable housing and the advantages of car travel” would ever lead to greater overall affordability for my family of four than my North Seattle neighborhood where we walk to shopping, parks, schools, doctors, dentists, community centers, and take a quick bus ride to my office?

    http://htaindex.cnt.org/
    Looks like Greenwood is a better bet than the affordable units in Carnation and Maple Valley.

  40. Dan Staley

    DJDF:

    Here is a similar one. There is some glitch in my service provider’s control panel, and for some reason some of my things dropped & traveling and can’t fix until late weekend – I’ll try to remember to post the link here.

  41. JB

    Sara N,

    I’m obviously not familiar with your personal situation. I didn’t claim it would be more affordable for you and your family to live in an “outer suburb” than where you live now, anyway, so I’m not sure why you’re asking me. If you live in a “walkable community” or “compact development,” do most of your traveling by transit or on foot, and like that kind of lifestyle, good for you. I have no wish to coerce or persuade you to change it. I think people who prefer to live in “outer suburbs” and do most of their traveling by car deserve the same respect for their choices.

    Dan Staley,

    I see no evidence of any fundamental change in the longstanding trend of suburbanization or the longstanding preference among Americans for private automobiles over public transportation. The latest Census Bureau data shows that the suburbs are still growing faster than central cities. And just last week the Brookings Institution issued a report (“Job Sprawl”) documenting the continuing decentralization of employment over the last decade. Maybe at some point this will turn around and Americans will start embracing density and mass transit in significant numbers, but there’s no sign of that so far.

  42. Dan Staley

    And just last week the Brookings Institution issued a report (”Job Sprawl”)

    Yes, all the ideologies wishing the events on the ground didn’t negate their worldviews have pointed to this study. The period under study was – coinkydinkily – the period of the housing bubble.

    There are a large number of people wishing to increase the housing choices of patriotic American hard working middle class non-socialist couldbe going Galt Murricans.

    Why some ideologies wish to restrict American’s choices is beyond me. Must because their worldview is threatened when good decent hard working Americans have and exercise their choices.

  43. dan cortland

    Gee, a Danoramic view.

    I think to answer the original question one would have to do a very careful study, because building construction is such a strong confounder, with so many walkable dense neighborhoods consisting largely of older, probably E-leaky buildings, and the tightness of newer ones varying with the subs who put them up.

  44. Kathryn

    ‘There needs to be different types of zoning so society can be much more flexible when prices go up.’

    ‘building construction is such a strong confounder’

    Why I’m working on land use within the context of Neighborhood Planning. Problem is how to have land use laws enable us to get what the community or neighborhood wants when building new, or better through reuse and rehab for uses that we want. I’ve got some really ‘blue sky’ ideas for the urban infill situation that focus on planning and standards.

    We depend on good architects to design good physical structures for those of us who actually live in multifamily housing. We also need to boost the small eco-businesses to help us get existing buildings up to snuff where we can.

    Just speaking as a city mouse.

  45. Sara N

    Dan B, I haven’t read through the source article yet, but it might demonstrate the trend you seek:

    http://rss.sightline.org/daily_score/archive/2009/04/14/does-city-living-trim-greenhouse-gas-emissions

  46. Matt

    http://www.growingsensibly.org/cmapdfs/Comparing%20High%20and%20Low%20Resedential%20Density%20-%20Life%20Cycly%20Analysis%20of%20Energy%20Use%20and%20Greenhouse%20Gas%20Emmissions.pdf

  47. Matt

    Comparing High and Low Residential Density: Life-Cycle
    Analysis of Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions:

    http://www.growingsensibly.org/cmapdfs/Comparing%20High%20and%20Low%20Resedential%20Density%20-%20Life%20Cycly%20Analysis%20of%20Energy%20Use%20and%20Greenhouse%20Gas%20Emmissions.pdf

  48. Dan Staley

    I’m traveling and can’t give this full attention, but I have the paper Matt linked to, and note that in the building comparison, a conclusion is that “[t]he choice of functional unit is highly relevant to understanding life-cycle density effects”. Per-capita can skew the analysis. When the subject is buildings, this is crucial; one cannot take capitas into account until the functioning of the building is considered (e.g. a NU development in a greenfield will still be SOV-dependent and thus less ‘green’).

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