Research Paper finds high rise is the most sustainable housing solution

The Urban Taskforce today released its latest Urban Ideas research paper entitled: “Standing Tall”. The paper compares the carbon footprint per dwelling associated with both the construction and operation of a range of different building types.

The paper finds that the embedded carbon footprint associated with the construction of high rise buildings is the most sustainable outcome for the environment. Even when the operation of each type of building is taken into account, high rise still comes out on top.

Pressure is building around the world for governments, corporations, private companies and citizens to reduce their carbon footprint. Inevitably, this will become a key shaper of public policy.
While the freestanding new home with a back yard remains the preference of many, increasingly those looking to get a foot on the housing ownership ladder are looking to apartment living. Often – this change in preference is being led by millennials who are looking for an option closer to the city. The fact that high rise development is a more sustainable option will also add to the appeal of high rise apartment living.

The Urban Taskforce has always stood for choice and the availability of multiple housing options. But those concerned about climate change are looking more closely at the benefits of a more compact, high-density solution.

The Urban Ideas research paper, “Standing Tall” finds that the carbon footprint of the total build per dwelling (occupying the same number of people) is the lowest for high rise developments of 65 storeys.

While the carbon used during the operational life of the building is higher for apartments, primarily because of the carbon emissions associated with the energy to operate lifts. This makes “Super tall” (above 121 stories) and mega tall (213 storey) buildings environmentally inefficient (there are none in Australia).

With the rapid improvements in the sustainable production of electricity, improvements in the power used during the operation of high rise buildings for lifts is only going to improve.
Public service policy makers and their political masters who ignore the growing demand for sustainable, affordable solution, will do so at their peril.

Read the full paper here: Standing Tall – Urban Ideas January 2022