Monday, August 2, 2010

Another reason why cheap oil has been deleterious to urban design

from this LA Times story:

Suburbia's original appeal came wrapped in visions of green earth, clear skies and backyard bliss. But to fulfill the dreams of home buyers on modest incomes, developers cut back on costly structural features such as movable window sashes, screens, awnings and eaves, high ceilings, thermal mass, cross-ventilated designs and attic fans. They bulldozed shade trees and began building instead for mechanical climate control. Families responded by spending more time indoors...

The relentless intensification of work and commuting patterns could not have been sustained summer after summer without the air-conditioned pipeline that conveys employees in cool vehicles from cool homes to cool offices and back, maybe with a stop at an even chillier supermarket or mall.

But the parking lots, roadways and buildings that support that efficient delivery system also trap and re-radiate solar energy, creating the so-called urban heat island effect. Cities and freeways now stay several degrees hotter than the surrounding countryside during the day and as much as 20 degrees warmer at night.

As a sidenote, posting here may be mere linking and blockquoting until I complete my interstate move, which is the cause of my recent absence.

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