Hey all you Green Cities-types. It’s not every day you encounter an article called “Green Cities, Brown Suburbs”, so I just had to pass it along. This interesting article builds off of a study economists Edward Glaeser from Harvard and Matthew Kahn from UCLA have done trying to quantify how to be good to the environment, or more specifically where to live if you want to limit your carbon dioxide emissions. And yes – it includes rankings! The article ranks metropolitan areas based on their carbon emissions, compares suburb-city carbon emissions and shows the relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and the Wharton Residential Land Use Regulation Index, which measures barriers against local building in metropolitan areas.

The big winners…coastal California and New York City. The five metropolitan areas with the lowest levels of carbon emissions are San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Sacramento, where there are low levels of both electricity and home heating use. New York City has the largest emissions gap between central city and suburbs, with the study estimating that that the average New Yorker emits 4,462 pounds less of transportation-related carbon dioxide than his suburbanite counterpart.

The article concludes: “Thoreau was wrong. Living in the country is not the right way to care for the Earth. The best thing that we can do for the planet is build more skyscrapers.” It’s like music to a city girl’s ears.

Stay tuned for an event this semester at the law school with Professor Glaeser to discuss this study.