In April, YouGov reported on a survey with a series of questions on how Americans thought about high-density places. Here is how people responded when asked about the relationship between the environment and building homes:
Three in four Americans say it’s better for the environment if houses are built farther apart, while one in four say it’s better for houses to be built closer together. While Americans who live in cities are somewhat more likely than Americans who don’t to say that high density is more environmental, the vast majority of city-dwellers still believe that it’s more eco-friendly to build out rather than up. While Republicans and Independents are aligned on this issue, Democrats are somewhat more likely to say high-density living is environmental, though again, the majority still say it is worse for the environment than building farther apart. https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/w0YWs/3/
It would be fascinating to follow up on these survey results with interviews or open-ended questions for the respondents: “Please explain why you answered this way.”
-Americans do not know what is best for the environment.
-Proximity to nature matters for how people assess whether the environment is better off. In higher density places, there is less open space or the natural areas have to be planned and protected. If the houses are further apart leaving more room for grass and local creatures, is this better for the environment?
-People really like homes built away from other homes, even if this might not be optimal for the environment.
-It is interesting that the biggest gap in opinions is between political parties and not where people live. Even then, two-thirds of Democrats agree with this. This might suggest anyone promoting density as a solution to environmental issues will run into some opposition.