Roaring Fork Valley stressed by housing, commutes | AspenTimes.com

Roaring Fork Valley stressed by housing, commutes

All the latest climate reports are saying we are facing a devastated future unless we drastically change the way we live. For example, replacing fossil-fuel use with electricity is essential and a big part of the changes. But experts are also sure that the housing we live in must also change.

There is much said about low-energy-using houses, but often little about the consequences of their location. Exceptionally, Portland, Oregon, has already changed its land-use regulations to eliminate new single-family housing in favor of high-density development near transportation hubs.

Land-use regulations must be overhauled. More requirements must be placed on new buildings. For example, the distance between your home and your place of work is critical. Therefore, new commercial buildings must house their workers on site or close by.

Today, new businesses are routinely started in Aspen and expect employees to travel as much as 70 miles away to Rifle. They are externalizing all the living and transportation costs of that employee to the distant community. Taxpayers then maintain the highways and transportation system, as with the recent tax passed for RFTA. Of course, this practice greatly increases our problems with climate change.

As recent studies have shown, there is at least a 3-1 and as much as a 4-1 increase in the carbon usage of suburban single-family homes versus efficient urban multi-family buildings. These results are low in regard to the multi-thousand-square-foot second homes that are so common in the mountain resorts. To add insult to injury, these homes are heated and air-conditioned even when unoccupied, which they usually are.

Most readers will no doubt call this conclusion ridiculous and impossible to act on, as with the many other changes that will need to occur. You just need to think more about the increasing effects of global warming and destruction we have already experienced.

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Patrick Hunter

Carbondale

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