Compact Cities: Sustainable Urban Forms for Developing Countries

By Mike Jenks; Rod Burgess | Go to book overview

Silvia de Schiller and John Martin Evans

Urban Climate and Compact Cities in Developing Countries

Introduction
The compactness of urban form affects energy demand and environmental quality. A significant part of the environmental impact of urban activities is related to energy consumption. In most cases, the amount of energy consumed by industrial production is similar to that consumed by transport and by buildings, although energy use in buildings is now increasing to become the most important sector of energy demand. Energy use in buildings is related principally to heating and cooling, ventilation and lighting, with a very much smaller proportion for other building-related uses such as vertical circulation, water pumps, and non building-related uses such as domestic and office equipment, TVs, refrigerators. It should be emphasised that much of the energy used in buildings is in part dependent on building design at the urban, architectural and construction scales. Factors such as access to direct winter sun and daylight, building form that reduces heat loss and construction materials that control heat transmission through the building envelope, all affect the energy demand of the built environment. At the city scale, spaces between buildings are as important as the building form to ensure appropriate levels of air movement, daylight and solar access in urban spaces, and the availability of natural energy resources on building facades. The design of urban space also helps to control pollution, favour ventilation of the urban fabric and moderate thermal conditions. There is a counter-argument that low-density development allows better access to renewable energies, especially solar radiation. Proponents of compact cities mention energy efficiency and favourable environmental benefits as important positive advantages of compactness. It is argued that there are three converging factors that produce this result:
• Compact cities allow more efficient transport as travel distances are shorter and public transport is encouraged—reducing energy consumption, especially of fossil fuels that are responsible for a major part of CO2 emissions and other forms of air pollution (e.g. Vale and Vale, 1991).
• Compact buildings, and the compact grouping of buildings, reduce heating

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