Green building advances help improve individual carbon footprints, but to really affect a global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, more wholesale changes are required. One of these is a global building trend toward greater urban density.
Packing more people into less space promotes communities that are more walkable and less dependent upon gas-guzzling vehicles. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, people don't necessarily have to live on top of each other in high-rise condominiums to create urban density. Sustainable, spacious, multifamily and mixed-use developments with retail stores on the street level and residential units above are becoming more common and more desirable -- as are small homes and houses built on nontraditional lots.
Tokyo homebuyer Fuyuhito Moira purchased a 98-foot (30-meter) lot the size of a parking space and built an ultrasmall, multistory home for himself and his mother [source: Kyung]. In the U.S., nontraditional spaces such as infill lots are attracting environmentally conscious homebuyers who want to live in the city but prefer detached homes.
How can homebuyers be sure they're truly getting a "green" home, however? We talk about an international shift toward streamlining green ratings systems next.