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When Density Isn't Greener

A new study challenges some widely held assumptions about urban and suburban development.
Ah, efficient living. Or not.
Ah, efficient living. Or not. Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Sprawl is not sustainable. That’s the basic assumption shaping high-rises, infill developments, and master plans in cities around the world—not to mention a guiding principle of this publication.

But a new report by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat challenges one of the central tenets of urbanism from a few unexpected angles. Comparing the daily patterns household-to-household, researchers found that certain transportation habits and overall energy use can be more environmentally efficient in suburban housing than residential high-rises.