Cities worldwide are expanding at an alarming rate, and the current infrastructure can’t contain all residents. Cities are forced to extend outward to build more housing to keep up with growing demand. The suburban sprawl consumes astronomical amounts of land and resources, causing devastating damage to the environment.
Every Indian dream of a house on an acre to call their own. However, there are far too many people for that to be possible without wiping out all our natural resources and destroying habitats. High-density housing in such cases can be highly beneficial for the environment and the people who live there.
But first, we need to understand what the concept is. High-density housing fits more people into a smaller area by closing the distance between units and building upward. Developers work to repurpose old, dilapidated buildings, expand on top of existing structures, and design new ones that balance residential and environmental concerns. High-density housing most typically takes the form of apartment buildings.
Though the idea seems to be too good to be true, it is far more beneficial in the long run.
Saving More Green Space
An area filled with apartment buildings and condos directly contrasts with the image of parks and gardens. To be fair, that’s somewhat the case. High-density housing pulls away from the traditional house and lawn ideal. However, it saves much more green space than it uses.
Expanding up means consuming much less of the natural environment our native plants and animals need to survive. Also, with careful planning, high-density housing makes more room for local parks and community gardens, which are still an essential part of life in the city.
Saves Essential Ecosystems
Suburbs grow exponentially as city populations continue to increase, taking up more of the local environment. Animal and plant species already struggling for survival could cease to exist due to this increased expansion.
High-density housing also keeps population growth within the pre-existing boundaries of the city. Instead of clear-cutting new land, builders can repurpose unused and unsightly buildings and build taller structures.
Increases Energy Efficiency
The close nature of the apartment and condo living means less heat loss. These structures are built with efficiency in mind, using better insulation materials to preserve heating and cooling. Also, since warm air rises, apartments near the top of these buildings can often use less heat. Units are much smaller than single-family homes and therefore take much less energy to heat and cool.
A traditional single-family home is exposed to the elements on all four sides, whereas an apartment unit is typically only open on one or two. Due to the extra exposure and difference in building materials, apartments can use much less energy to heat and cool the same amount of space.
Offers More Within Walking Distance
A larger number of people living in an area can support more amenities and services within a short distance. With high-density living options, anyone can ride a bike or walk to accomplish most of their daily errands and possibly even get to work the same way. In fact, it’s possible to reduce your carbon footprint by half a
ton each year just by walking or biking for one trip each day instead of using other transportation.
Provides Easier Access to Public Transportation
Using public transportation over individual cars can reduce carbon emissions by 45%. However, suburbs and towns with low-density housing are so spread out it’s nearly impossible to maintain sustainable and cost-effective transit systems.
The environmental benefits of high-density housing are undeniable, but they can only exist if sustainability is prioritised when planning. Repurposing should come before knocking down old structures to build new ones. City planners need to ensure reliable public transportation, a balance of amenities close to living areas and plenty of lands left for communal green space. Otherwise, the impact of creating new dwellings would overwhelm the potential environmental benefits of high-density housing.