Housing is an urgent climate justice issue. When people are pushed out of the city due to rising rents (or unable to move into the city due to a lack of housing, affordable or otherwise), they’re pushed to places that are poorly served by transit, so they need to drive more. Because they are larger and more car-dependent, dwellings outside the city result in much higher emissions.
The carbon footprint of urban households in dense neighborhoods is approximately 50% below average, and households in suburbs are up to double the average. (Even though they are often close-in and dense, affluent suburbs are the worst, because of larger houses and higher consumption levels.)
Want to dig in to some of the details? Read this article to see why “the single biggest factor in the carbon footprint of our cities isn’t the amount of insulation in our walls, it’s the zoning.” And read this one to see why housing is one of our biggest looming crises nationwide. And if you care about trees, this article has a fascinating breakdown on the impacts of housing (and cars) on trees.
So….we can’t reduce emissions without attending to the interlocked—and beautiful!—possibilities around housing and transit. We think that if we do attend to these properly, a better Seattle will result: more affordable, more walkable, bike-able, safer, healthier, and happier.
(Single-family house on left, 7 apartments on right)
Read our letter to Mayor Durkan, which lays out some of our thinking as we move forward on this critical issue.