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Study: Dense cities have smallest carbon footprints

People living in urban-core cities with dense housing and mass transit do a better job of controlling excess carbon emissions, according to a new study released today by the Brookings Institution. And big — at least when it comes to cities — is not necessarily bad.

Seems that when we humans stretch out a bit, in the form of sprawl, our activity tends to emit more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

"Americans are driving more, building more, consuming more energy and emitting more carbon," the report states. "Rising energy prices, growing dependence on imported fuels and accelerating global climate change make the nation's growth patterns unsustainable."

The report, Shrinking the Carbon Footprint of Metropolitan America, calls on the federal government to establish policies to expand transit options, make regional freight operations more energy-efficient, encourage energy-efficient retrofitting of homes and employ other strategies to decrease urban impact on the environment.

What's a carbon footprint?

Six interesting findings

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Where the Metroplex ranks

The Metroplex's carbon footprint decreased 11.05 percent from 2000 to 2005. That includes a 14.6 percent decrease in the transportation sector alone. In the same period, Dallas' residential carbon footprint decreased by 6.4 percent. This compares favorably with an overall 2.2 percent increase in carbon footprint nationwide.

Marilyn A. Brown, one of the report's authors, was careful to qualify the results in individual metropolitan areas, noting that the study looked at transportation and residential carbon emissions only. In addition, 2000 data is less reliable than 2005 data. Updates of the study should be more accurate.

The best and the worst

Does rail make a difference?

"As the nation accommodates the next 120 million people, those places with rail can do it in a much more compact form," Puentes said.

Proposed goals



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Making it law





Online: www.blueprintprosperity.org

BRYON OKADA, 817-390-7752

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