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Suburban sprawl cancels carbon footprint savings of dense urban cores
Date:1/6/2014

sformation for very little benefit, and high carbon suburbanization would result as a side effect," Jones said.

Increasing population density in suburbs appears to be an even a worse strategy, he said. Surprisingly, population dense suburbs have significantly higher carbon footprints than less dense suburbs.

"Population dense suburbs also tend to create their own suburbs, which is bad news for the climate," explains Jones.

So if building more population-dense cities is not a viable solution for city planners, what is? The project website includes a tool that calculates carbon footprints for essentially every populated U.S. zip code, city, county and U.S. state (31,531 zip codes, 10,093 cities and towns, 3,124 counties, 276 metropolitan regions and 50 states) as well as an interactive online map allowing users to zoom in and out of different locations. Households and cities can calculate their own carbon footprints to see how they compare to their neighbors and create customized climate action plan from over 40 mitigation options.

In some locations, motor vehicles are the largest source of emissions, while in other locations it might be electricity, food, or goods and services. California, for example, has relatively low emissions associated with household electricity, but large emissions from transportation. The opposite is true in parts of the Midwest, where electricity is produced largely from coal.

Tailored emission lowering strategies

The real opportunity, say the authors, is tailoring climate solutions to demographically similar populations within locations.

"Suburbs are excellent candidates for a combination of solar photovoltaic systems, electric vehicles and energy-efficient technologies," said Kammen. "When you package low carbon technologies together you find real financial savings and big social and environmental benefits."

The authors argue that cities need to step out o
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Contact: Robert Sanders
rlsanders@berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert  

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