Thursday, January 21, 2010

View from the suburbs

There's an excellent article on the suburbs at I saw a link at Pundit and Pundette, but it's sure to be all over the place.
Much of it talking about the anti-suburb bias of the current government, but it ends with the likely solution - technology. Like the computer I'm blogging on.

Oddly, despite these tremendous potential environmental benefits, the shift toward cyberspace has elicited little support from smart-growth advocates. Indeed most reports on density and greenhouse gases virtually ignore the consideration of telecommuting and dispersed work.
One reason may be that telecommuting breaks with the prevailing planning and green narratives by making dispersion more feasible. The ability to work full time or part time from home, notes one planning expert, expands metropolitan “commuter sheds” to areas well outside their traditional limits. In exchange for a rural or exurban lifestyle, this new commuter—who may go in to “work” only one or two days a week—will endure the periodic extra long trip to the office.
Yet although it may offend planning sensibilities, the potential energy savings—particularly in vehicle miles traveled—could be enormous. Telecommuters drive less, naturally; on telecommuting days, average vehicle miles are between 53 percent and 77 percent lower. Overall a 10 percent increase in telecommuting over the next decade will reduce 45 million tons of greenhouse gases, while also dramatically cutting office construction and energy use. Only an almost impossibly large shift to mass transit could produce comparable savings.
Ultimately, technology will undermine much of the green case against suburbia. If we really want to bring about a greener era, focusing attention on low-density enclaves would bring change that conforms to the preferences of the vast majority of people.

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