Skip to main content

Trying to shrink carbon footprint? Think small

A street in a neighborhood of brownstones with the road lined with cars on both sides
September 14, 2015

For cities trying to shrink their carbon footprint, researchers at Arizona State University and a number of other institutions say one solution is to look at the emissions of individual buildings and communities, rather than cities as a whole.

In a recent commentary published in Nature, ASU researchers Kevin Gurney and Nancy Grimm, both with ASU School of Life Sciences, and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering’s Mikhail Chester, state that cutting carbon emissions by putting more electric cars on the road or generating more clean energy only fixes a small percentage of global urban CO2 emissions.

According to the scientists, if city managers handled emissions the same way they handled regional development, transport planning and waste disposal — at the scale of a house or road — it would be easier to see where a city’s “carbon hot spots” are located. From there, city officials could target their efforts to curb emissions in areas that are actually contributing most to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

The problem with this method, however, is that gathering such specific data is beyond the ability of most city planners. Despite this, the group of researchers suggests that city managers use data already being gathered by scientists from around the world. As long as the research community can translate the information into a form that is usable, the scientists say everyone will benefit.


Source: Nature 

Editor's Note: Links are included for informational purposes only. Due to varying editorial policies, news publications may remove or change a link for archival purposes at any time without notice.

Top photo by cmart7327/iStock

More Science and technology


Three women and a man stand in front of a banner that reads Indo-Pacific Space and Earth Conference

ASU-based space workforce training program expands to Australia and New Zealand

The Milo Space Science Institute, led by Arizona State University, will offer its space workforce training program to university and vocational students in Australia and New Zealand starting in March…

A group of students and Michael Crow holding up the "forks up" symbol at AAAS.

ASU students compete at world’s largest general science conference

A group of 15 Arizona State University students traveled to Denver, Colorado, last week for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest general…

Portrait of woman with long brown hair and blue jacket taken outside on ASU Tempe campus

'Leap into the unknown' brought newly named Regents Professor to ASU

The plane landed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Meenakshi Wadhwa stepped into the terminal. She was 21 years old and a recent graduate of Punjab University in India where she had…