In March of 2021, the city published its first ever CCAP to acknowledge that climate change is “an environmental, economic, and societal issue” that the city, local governments, private businesses, and non-profit organizations need to work together to take collective action on addressing.
There are a lot of good outcomes from this plan so far and the city will publish information about them this upcoming February.
The map shows a nice green stripe across Raleigh, where per-household emissions are half or a third what they are elsewhere in town. Conveniently, that’s where the Western-New Bern BRT axis is going to go, so let’s allow more people to live in more carbon-smart places.
Yet household emissions often depend on factors that individuals have limited control over, such as whether public transportation is available in their neighborhoods… Consider housing. For decades in the United States, the majority of new homes have been built in the suburbs and, increasingly, exurbs, where climate footprints are larger. As a result, for many people today, it is often easier and cheaper to find a home in a high-emissions community than a lower-emissions one.
Those high-emissions communities are in part the result of government investment in roads and highways in the postwar era. Add to that white flight from cities, as well as the simple fact that many Americans increasingly wanted, and could afford, the quintessential single-family home with a yard and a driveway in the suburbs…
Just as importantly, many cities and local governments often artificially limit the amount of denser or transit-friendly housing available, particularly in wealthier neighborhoods, through zoning that favors single-family homes or requirements around minimum lot sizes and parking spaces. But if people get pushed out of, say, Brooklyn or San Francisco and into the exurbs because of a shortage of housing, their household emissions are likely to soar…
For both climate change and affordability reasons, “we need to be building smaller homes in denser places, closer together and closer to jobs, to public transportation,” said Jenny Schuetz, a housing researcher at the Brookings Institution. “But the locations where we should be adding a ton more housing have made it really hard to build…”
Dr. Jones has shown that for many cities, such as Berkeley, Calif., the single most effective climate strategy local leaders can pursue is to add what’s known as infill housing, apartments or townhouses built in underutilized parts of cities to reduce car dependence and improve energy efficiency.
The university’s site has a tool that I like, which allows you to factor out the impacts of household income and size (both major contributors to emissions) - which makes the location impact much clearer.
This UC Berkeley study is very relevant and influenced my thinking about the need for density for our city and others. Those in HB and responsible citizens should be thinking 10 years and beyond. We will soon be searching for shadows.
“A key finding of the UC Berkeley study is that suburbs account for half of all household greenhouse gas emissions, even though they account for less than half the U.S. population. The average carbon footprint of households living in the center of large, population-dense urban cities is about 50 percent below average, while households in distant suburbs are up to twice the average.”