In general, vertical development reduces the amount of Earth’s surface area being used for residences. Also, electricity and water infrastructure is shared, reducing the cost as well as the amount of piping, circuitry and waste. This allows for greener use of surrounding areas, such as parks, community gardens, and human services. Additionally, apartment housing means that urban areas are more compact, making public transportation more feasible and often more accessible for residents. The famous urban developer, Hildebrand Frey, argues that the most ‘environmentally sound’ design for urban living is like a hand with fingers- the fingers being the development, with space in between for parks and other open space.
Some apartment complexes are more efficient than others, however. In some large cities, such as New York, outdated infrastructure in older apartment buildings means that unclean energy sources (such as coal) and HVAC (ventilation) systems with the air pollutant CFC, are still used. The U.S. Green Building Council awards a special L.E.E.D. certification for apartment buildings which are able to update their infrastructure to newer, greener standards. You may refer to the USGBC website for more detailed information about green building design.
Apartment complexes are especially efficient in densely populated areas, like cities. Urban cities have large populations, and without apartment complexes there wouldn’t be enough room for each person. Most urban development incorporated apartment complexes as a foundation, many cities or ubran areas were built upon this concept.
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