Coincident with our coverage of Enermax, we find an article by Kevin Surace on how "New Approaches to Quiet Buildings Can Help Address Climate Change." He is not a disinterested observer, but CEO of Serious Materials, the startup that is looking to make a new kind of drywall without 90% of the CO2 or embodied energy. (TreeHugger here)
He does, however, nail the reasons why density and cities are so important: "If everyone in the U.S. lived in a condo, apartment or town home in an urban setting, we could cut potentially carbon emissions by 1 billion metric tons or more. That is approximately what Italy and the United Kingdom generate, combined."
It turns out that moving back to urban areas could reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent or more, since most people who live in cities also work close by. They take public transportation, walk or even ride a bike — taking millions of cars off the road every day.
And smaller urban dwellings also tend to be built more tightly, with more insulation, and heating can be very efficient....,The CO2 generated from the heating and cooling of condos can be 70 percent less than that from a single-family home. Likewise, the amount of landscaping to water is near zero (reducing CO2 emissions from pumping irrigation water to the home and also saving precious clean water)."
Plus, the amount of materials used to build a condo versus a single-family home can be 30 to 50 percent less, reducing CO2 emissions from manufacturing these items (actually a major source of CO2), as well as from transportation to the jobsite and installation time and energy."
He then continues to make the case that the single biggest complaint that people have in this environment is noise.
"If we are to affect climate change through urbanization (and we must), we also must deal with the noise issue directly. This isn’t about saving a few dollars or doing it the old way because it’s good enough to meet code. Instead, it is about significantly decreasing CO2 emissions while giving the home-buying public good reasons to move into and enjoy quality urban settings. They will do that only if builders, developers and building owners address their number one complaint: noise."