City Living 70% Less Carbon Intensive Than In Suburbs: TreeHugger

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This Treehugger.com post was interesting mostly for the cool heat map of transportation-related carbon. It seems fairly obvious that if you live in an urban area and work close to your home (or in your home, if you are lucky), you will have significantly less commuting time, and hence a significantly lower carbon footprint.

What if, however, you live in an urban area and drive to the suburbs or another city to work? Does that happen? Sure it does. I guarantee that my current 4 mile round trip daily commute in a suburban township is much less carbon intensive than the 108 mile round daily round trip when I lived within the City of Akron, Ohio and worked in the City of Painesville, Ohio.

Or, what about this: Live in a rural area and work at home. Live in a suburb and ride your bike to a “sprawl” office complex a few miles away. I think the carbon intensity of these alternatives should compare favorably to urban living.

Maybe the analysis that really matters is not a geographical one. Maybe the choices that people make and how they relate to carbon footprint are just as important as their choice of geography, which in many case is an accident of socioeconomics as much as it is a choice of lifestyle and “green” over unsustainable.

For those of us who can choose where to live, maybe we should select the kind of surroundings that energize us, then figure out how to live there in the least consumptive way possible, whether urban, suburban, or rural.


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