Energy efficiency High-rise vs Low-rise

A 2015 research paper by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) on ‘The Environment Impact of Tall vs Small’ building types in the Chicago area found that ‘4-storey courtyard buildings had the lowest energy demand’ and ‘super-talls used the most energy out of all’. It also found that for super-tall buildings, ‘these buildings depend on a series of spaces that are not residential units but account for around 30% of total building area … these spaces are continuously illuminated and conditioned yet not always occupied’. A Google search tells us that the Chicago courtyard apartment buildings developed after 1902 are flexible, multi-unit housing types that should be considered for any sustainable residential or mixed use residential project. They have an open courtyard that extends into the block perpendicular to the street.

The Chicago Courtyard Apartment Building: A Sustainable Model Type
RICHARD GNAT Kansas State University

A 2005 Energy Australia analysed ‘Multi Unit Residential Buildings Energy & Peak Demand Study’ in the Sydney area. Comparing dwelling types, the study found that townhouses and villas had the lowest average energy demand of all building type and the findings clearly show that the surveyed high-rise buildings represented the least energy-efficient forms of housing (see page 10 of the study).

Townhouses and villas are defined as two or more attached dwellings with common or shared facilities (eg car-parking). In Hamilton you can see more of these are being built and the designers are updating the style of them and improving their street appeal. In Hamilton, courtyard sized (4-storey) buildings are in limited numbers; however, the CTBUH paper reports these as being kind to the environment.

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