Friday, August 19, 2011

Rome: The Eternal & Sustainable City

A residential neighborhood in Rome

Travelers and tourists have gushed about Rome for centuries. Now they can add a new virtue to its list of "most-es". It is one of the world's most sustainable cities as well as one of its most beautiful.

Rome carries this distinction because the building height is capped at 78-1/2 feet, which works out to be 6 stories, the optimal number of floors from a density and energy use perspective, said Mathis Wackernagel, president of the Global Footprint Network ( and a co-creator of the Ecological Footprint, a metric for measuring the impact of humanity on the earth's resources.

Multi-story buildings, including apartments, use resources more efficiently and occupy far less land that single family houses, but above 6 stories, electric elevators, which consume far more energy than the slow-pokey hydraulic models, are required and energy- consuming pumps are needed to get water to the upper floors, Wackernagel said.

Other cities which merit the sustainable moniker because six-story buildings predominate are Paris, Amsterdam, The Hague and Antwerp, Wackernagel noted.
Roman residential neighborhood near the Vatican

Commercial-residential area near Rome's main train station

Note: My observations were made on a trip to Europe in June and July and posted after my return to the US.

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