For many reasons, suburban living has been identified as a less green choice than city life, but here's a new one: a recent article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle suggests these suburban communities are feeling the effects of climate change more sharply than their metropolitan neighbors.
According to the article, a study conducted at Georgia Tech found that the suburbs experience a higher number of "very hot days" per year when compared to compact cities nearby, regardless of "climate zone, population size, or rate of growth."
The average number of very hot days increased by about 15 days per year in the most sprawling areas and by about six days per year in the suburbs in which houses and businesses are closer together. The article quotes the study's lead author, Brian Stone, saying that the temperature differences could pose a "significant health threat" to humans since "severe heat kills more people on average per year than other type of dangerous weather."
Stone says areas such as Atlanta, Tampa, Fla.; or Grand Rapids, Mich., would be most at risk, because of rapid deforestation to accommodate new dwellings or a dramatic, rapid loss of "vegetative cover."
Others have suggested that planned green communities might be a solution to the sprawling suburbs because these living arrangements put places of business and recreation within walking distance of people’s homes.