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Martin Laplante

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Fri, 18 May 2007

More on Which is Greener, Houses or Apartments?

A follow-up to the previous post. Apparently, the fact that high-rise apartment buildings consume more energy than houses has been known for a long time. For instance, here is a table (my bolding) from "Multi-Unit Residential Building, Energy & Peak Demand Study" By Paul Myors, EnergyAustralia, with Rachel O'Leary and Rob Helstroom, NSW Department of Planning in ENERGY NEWS Vol 23 No. 4, December 2005.

TOTAL ANNUAL GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS BY DWELLING TYPE.

Building typeANNUAL GREENHOUSE EMISSIONS
per dwelling (tonnes CO2/dwelling/year)per person (tonnes CO2/person/year)
High-Rise10.45.4
Mid-Rise7.33.8
Low-Rise6.53.4
Townhouse + Villas5.12.1
Detached9.02.9
AVERAGE8.04.1

A person in a high-rise building consumes nearly 3 times as much energy as one living in a townhouse. This particular survey was based on utility billing data, plus building and unit audits, plus some whole of building load profiles with on-site logging equipment.

Several CMHC reports going back for decades also wonder at this finding. CMHC is surprised and blames air leaks. Australians blame a penchant for long showers. But none of these can account for such a large difference. Some say that apartment dwellers lack concern for the environment, either because they are convinced that apartment living is already inherently more efficient, or because they are less invested in their community, while others still find something inherently wrong with sealed buildings that can not take advantage of natural air or light and where so much of the energy use seems outside the control of the individual.

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