Sustainability 2013, 5(10), 4461-4478; doi:10.3390/su5104461
Article

Greenhouse Gas Implications of Urban Sprawl in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area

Department of Real Estate, Planning and Geoinformatics, Aalto University School of Engineering, P.O. Box 15800, FI-00076 AALTO, Finland
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 July 2013; in revised form: 25 September 2013 / Accepted: 11 October 2013 / Published: 21 October 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Density and Sustainability)
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Abstract: Suburban households living in spacious detached houses and owing multiple cars are often seen as main culprits for negative greenhouse consequences of urban sprawl. Consequently, the effects of sprawl have been mostly studied from the viewpoints of emissions from home energy consumption and private driving. Little attention has been paid to the changes in other consumption. In this paper, urban sprawl is linked to the proliferation of semi-detached and detached housing, described as a low-rise lifestyle, at the expense of apartment house living i.e., high-rise lifestyle. We analyze differences between the low-rise and the high-rise lifestyles and their environmental effects in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, taking into account all consumption activities. Environmental effects are assessed by combining greenhouse gas intensities from a consumption-based environmentally-extended input-output (EE I-O) model with expenditure data. Then these carbon footprints are further elucidated with regression analysis. We find that low-rise lifestyles causes approximately 14% more emissions than high-rise lifestyles. However, the relative contributions of emissions from different sources, whether direct or indirect, are almost equal for both. Furthermore, when controlling the level of expenditure, the differences between the two lifestyles unexpectedly disappear and in certain cases are even reversed. We believe that our consumption-based approach facilitates the understanding of sprawling lifestyles and offers important insights for sustainable policy-design and urban planning.
Keywords: environmental sustainability; density; urban sprawl; Environmentally Extended Input-Output (EE I-O) analysis; cities; climate change

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ala-Mantila, S.; Heinonen, J.; Junnila, S. Greenhouse Gas Implications of Urban Sprawl in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Sustainability 2013, 5, 4461-4478.

AMA Style

Ala-Mantila S, Heinonen J, Junnila S. Greenhouse Gas Implications of Urban Sprawl in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Sustainability. 2013; 5(10):4461-4478.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ala-Mantila, Sanna; Heinonen, Jukka; Junnila, Seppo. 2013. "Greenhouse Gas Implications of Urban Sprawl in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area." Sustainability 5, no. 10: 4461-4478.

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