Cities: "cutting edge" (April 2011)


Tyler Falk, from the blog, interviews Peter Calthorpe about his new book, "Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change," to discover "why cities are on the 'cutting edge of environmentalism'". It turns out that, even for city dwellers who don't consciously consider themselves to be environmentalists, just by "living in cities and walkable towns they’re at the cutting edge of environmentalism."

Cities are such havens of environmental benefits because they offer a virtuous circle of compounding synchronicities. "You basically ... get to a situation where you reduced your dependence on the automobile ... you’re only driving it 5,000 miles a year instead of 30,000. You’re getting around otherwise by walking to local destinations, using your bike, and using local transit networks. You’re probably also living in a townhouse or an apartment where the building is very efficiently built, and demands very small amounts of energy. There’s not a lot of water being used because you don’t have a big yard, but there’s a really cool park nearby. It’s a combination of all those things. But at its foundation is the more compact, walkable, urban environment, because it is what reduces demand. It reduces demand so much that you (can) then begin to satisfy the demand with renewables."