The Green Case for Cities

By Witold Rybczynski in October 2009

Nowhere has the greening message had a bigger impact than in the building industry. Green or sustainable architecture is all the rage—as well it should be, because buildings use a lot of energy. The construction and operation of residential and commercial buildings consume as much as 40 percent of the energy used in the United States today.

Putting solar panels on the roofs doesn’t change the essential fact that by any sensible measure, spread-out, low-rise buildings, with more foundations, walls, and roofs, have a larger carbon footprint than a high-rise office tower—even when the high-rise has no green features at all.

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