Examining Carbon Impacts of Tall Buildings in Dense Urban Settings

This Live Event happened on February 26, 2019 (7:00PM - 7:00PM PST)

“Density is good” is a frequently-heard mantra among architects and planners – yet this generalization deserves critical examination.

Green building/zero-energy consultant Ann Edminster has researched the carbon implications of tall buildings in urban settings (The New Carbon Architecture, Bruce King, New Society Publishers 2017). Her findings provide compelling evidence that construction of new, super-tall buildings within already-developed cities may be detrimental to society's carbon reduction goals and deserves a great deal more study, given the accelerating rate of climate change and the critical role of buildings in the increase of carbon emission from construction, operations, and related transportation.

This presentation will cover Edminster's research to date and the further research needed to answer the question, "To what extent is increasing density a good, climate-beneficial, thing?"

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn the relationship between building height and embodied carbon
  2. Critically appraise the validity of transportation-related arguments in favor of increasing density in developed urban areas
  3. Observe and critique researched effects of housing density on household operating energy
  4. Evaluate the impacts on resiliency and livability of different urban building scales


1 AIA LU/Elective