Living with shared walls or common spaces and interacting with neighbors isn't for everyone, but like-minded renters and homeowners might be heading toward more planned and communal properties, bringing social lives and work closer to where they actually live. A January 2011 study sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Smart Growth Program finds that one of the factors that would significantly decrease energy consumption is to focus building and community planning on multifamily or attached housing with shared walls that hold in more heat and increase efficiency [source: EPA]. Building homes closer together and closer to public transit options -- and with more energy-efficient construction -- could reduce consumption up to 64 percent compared to single-family, remote suburban homes that rely heavily on car travel [source: EPA].
Having a single-family home without shared walls is a dream and long-term goal for many, but condos, row houses and cohousing offer options for private ownership and shared responsibility for resources. Some have the added initiative of being responsible to each other in communities as part of the stewardship. Sharing a wall with a neighbor isn't what it used to be. For many, it's a preference and obvious choice toward a smaller footprint and a return to knowing their neighbors.