Often cities like New York and Vancouver are cited as stellar examples of dense ecologically superior cities with tall buildings. It’s usually assumed that it’s the tall buildings in these cities that give them the edge. (Indeed, Glaeser himself makes this conflation.)
These cities are indeed very positive when it comes to carbon and other ecological metrics. But it’s often overlooked that tall buildings are only a fraction of all structures in these places, with the bulk of neighborhoods consisting of rowhouses, low-rise apartment buildings, and other much lower structures. They get their low-carbon advantages not from density per se, but from an optimum distribution of daily amenities, walkability and access to transit, and other efficiencies of urban form.
Uh, okay … and the point is? I’m confounded why this issue is always either/or – as though highrises and lowrises cannot co-exist, why one must be chosen as preferable to the other.