Cities Are Greener than the Suburbs. Apparently.

City dwellers have smaller carbon footprints, walk more and are generally better for the environment. So says Ed Glaeser in the Freakonomics podcast.

View from the 5th Floor of the Gleason building in Downtown Charlottesville

The higher price of urban space means that people are living in smaller homes, even with the same family size. And that leads to lower electricity usage, lower home heating usage — and those are the facts that I think make cities seem, at least to my eyes, significantly greener.

The home-mortgage interest deduction essentially acts as a push away from urban apartments and into suburban homes. And let’s just go through this — more than 85 percent of single-family detached houses in this country are owner occupied. More than 85 percent of multi-unit dwellings are rented.

There’s a good reason for this. If you rent out single-family detached housing, they depreciate on average, more than 1 percent a year, according to some studies. And that’s quite easy to understand: renters don’t do the maintenance that homeowners do, to keep taking care of their homes.

No word yet on how they plan to feed themselves.

What do you think? Where would you think are the most “green” neighborhoods of Charlottesville?

Didja know that you could search for walkable homes in the City of Charlottesville here? And sort by Walkscore?

Next on my reading list: Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier

Very related – Households in transit-oriented locations save more energy and emissions than even ‘green’ households in sprawl

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  1. Jeff Uphoff March 15, 2011 at 20:21


    Cities are Soylent Green farms!

  2. D3g March 18, 2011 at 02:25

    City-dwellers could feed themselves from food grown on farms in the rural areas. That’s probably what Glaeser would say, and that makes the most sense to me as well.


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