Urban Density and Operating Costs | UNEP
Compact cities are more resource efficient. This is a summary conclusion in the recent UN Environment Program report, "Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication."
Densification reduces the capital and operating costs of infrastructure. Evidence suggests that linear infrastructure including streets, railways, water and sewage systems as well as other utilities come at considerably lower cost per unit the higher the urban density (Carruthers andUlfarsson, 2003).
Comparing smart growth areas and dispersed, car-dependent developments, Todd Litman suggests direct cost savings between US$5,000 and US$75,000 for building road and utility infrastructure per household unit (Litman 2009a - pdf).
A recent exercise for Calgary (IBI Group 2009) indicates cost savings beyond pure linear infrastructure but also for schools, fire stations and recreation centres.
Similarly, a recent study of Tianjin concluded that infrastructure cost savings as a result of compact and densely clustered urban development reach 55 per cent compared with a dispersed scenario (Webster et al. 2010).