Unpacking density: Exploiting urban design variables in carbon reduction strategies

Michael Mehaffy, Tigran Haas, Andy van den Dobbelsteen


Previous research has indicated a consistent association between higher residential density (expressed per capita) and lower energy use and greenhouse gas emissions (also expressed per capita) when other factors are held equal. However, the factors contributing to the benefits of density, and the ways they interact, are less well understood. In this paper we examine three such factors: the distribution of destinations, the provision of viable pedestrian-based multi-modal pathways, and, least understood but perhaps most intriguing, the źnetwork effects╗ that appear to arise from the structural dynamics of certain features of urban networks. We present the case that these factors can be exploited by urban designers as variable elements within design, as part of a strategy to achieve ambitious carbon reduction goals.

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