Anonymous asked in EnvironmentGlobal Warming · 1 decade ago

do tall buildings affect global warming, please i need the answer really fast, thanx??

dubai's buliding the tallest building in the world , and to be honest they reached till now up to 141 floors and, i'm worried because i have a really strange feeling that what theu are doing is really a threat to global warming ,but if it is not atleast give me the reason why, and i want ot be sure they you are saying the real deal answer(proofs), bye

13 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    High Rise Housing does indeed offer a solution. It reduces the life chances and life spans of its inhabitants.

    High rise housing has been a key indicator in many studies of socio-economic deprivation and a massive negative impact on whole communities and on every aspect of a person's life and life chances:

    From crime rates, to health; including diet, activity, lifestyle choices (ie smoking, alcohol consumption etc) Birth rates, still birth and mortality rates, family size. Air quality, water quality, poverty, social exclusion, access to services and social networks. Level of crime and security. Likelihood of offending. Employment, unemployment, benefit claims, training, transport, education, facilities, amenities and teenage pregnancy. etc etc.

    So yes put people in high rise buildings they will die off much more quickly, have higher childhood mortality rates, higher risk of still birth, lower fertility rates, higher crime rates, more poverty and premature deaths from smoking, drug taking and alcohol consumption and accidents.

    Our new motto could be: 'Do Your Bit Live in High Rise Flats to quickly reduce the population'.


    All buildings that high are made of concrete and steel. Concrete is made from cement which requires large amounts of energy to produce, it does not reabsorb CO2, the building industry in general uses massive amounts of drinking water. Mining the raw materials for the production of both cement and iron ore for steel causes massive environmental disruption.

    There are much higher environmental costs in transportation than using locally sourced timber. The concrete contains gravel and sands these also need to be mined, although these gravel pits do actually create new habitat they are not generally used for food production.

    Processing steel also uses massive amounts of energy in blast furnaces and rolling mills. Reinforced concrete, which is needed for high rise flats, is notoriously difficult to recycle.

    All the above processes produce copious amounts of greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.

    Forests are a RESOURCE THAT COULD MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE. As a resource there must be a yield. Which in the case of forests is timber. Forests are planted, giving all the recognized benefits. If these forests are not planted and then utilized they have no value to the people who plant them.

    Without this land being protected and managed in this way, it's value would be in selling it for real estate. That is covering it in reinforced concrete, asphalt and erecting high rise buildings. The other main uses of land is cattle ranching, or conventional agriculture with all their environmental disadvantages. Overpopulation is adding to climate change.

    The answer is in the TREES. Give them greater value more will be planted. They take 80 years to grow so there is 80 years of benefit from the forest habitat, then because it is valuable it is replanted. If anything the management of forests could be greatly improved to support environments that deep ecologists value.

    The concrete route is a one way trip because concrete is there for good. Trees can be replanted and old timber buildings just return to the soil without leaving a trace.

    You have to cut down timber to create space to plant more because it is the timber that sequesters carbon, as long as you do not burn the timber it locks it in. If it is burned it only releases the same amount of co2 as it took in unlike oil based products it is carbon neutral. New trees take up further amounts of carbon.

    You are going to have to build so you can either use trees with all the above benefits or use energy hungry technologies like reinforced concrete which compound the situation.

    People care about things that involve a financial return or cost to them. Man has managed ecosystems throughout time so there is no such thing as a 'natural' environment.

    Convince me with solid examples of areas that have been returned to forest after having high rise/or any buildings on them. Brown field sites are just that with inherent long term pollutants. There is no going back.

    The EVIDENCE IS THERE it is indisputable that without some sort of change of attitude towards the use of timber

    urbanization and deforestation is happening. Google earth it

    without leaving your computer desk.

    YOUR CHOICE: No matter what your ideology is, the question is simple: Cover the whole country in Concrete or Forests?

    The obvious place to live is in a wood. The materials you need are at hand (no transport, mining, processing etc costs)

    We did not live in a wood but we do now as we have planted one around our house.

    I VOTE FOR TREES. We have planted 2200 SO FAR.It is just a matter of perspective. I am going to plant some more trees now

  • 1 decade ago

    Tall buildings affect global warming

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It is actually a help. If living space is built one on top of the other then there is more land left to grow crops to feed all those people. All buildings that high are made of concrete and steel, not wood. So they do not cut down whole forests to build them. Forests are a resource that could help mitigate global warming.

    But it is also a sign of population growth, too; which doesn't help the environment. Would you rather have a tall building made of stone and steel, or thousands of wood framed houses cluttering the landscape? Take a look at the photos in the links and tell me which is better, a highrise building or urban sprawl?

  • 1 decade ago

    Buildings that tall are exceptionally inefficient structures for the floor area that is returned. Imagine building two 70 storey towers with the same lettable floor space... the cost of construction, i.e. materials and resources is not equal .. it is significantly less by reason that those resources dont have to be hoisted so far. Also consider the lifecycle costs of one to the other... they do not compare favourably for the taller structure... so why do they do it? So they can have the tallest building in the world.

    Now think about building 4 x 35 storey buildings with the same total lettable floor space .... it is even more cost efficient over all... to construct and maintain. The structural elements involved are miniscule by comparison.

    Large buildings are exceptionally inneficient structures by reason that the return of floor area is dramatically reduced due to the requirement for vertical transport... those dang things are full of elevators and fire stairs! What isn't for vertical transport is used by the increased mass of structural elements required to stop the building from blowing over... the bracing and structral system requires larger thicker structural elements.

    Now consider the embodied energy of building ... reinforced concrete buildings get to around 70 floors before they become exceptionally structurally inefficient... and framed buildings with concrete slab floors suspended from steel structures can go higher... 141 floors but why? The embodied energy of these materials is very high. It takes millions of years to create enough volvanic ash to make pozolanic cement, sand and stone, and iron ore that contributes to making those structures.. and none of it is found in the deserts of Dubai. They should be making buldings out of hemp in Dubai. It is replenishable, unlike the oil that is sold to pay for the concrete, glass and steel towers.

    So how does this contribute to greenhouse gases and therefore global warming? There is you answer.. it's the world's oil and coal consumption necessary to make the world's tallest building viable in Dubai.

    Then the ongoing carbon cost of air-conditioning such buildings is astronomical.... and 500 metres up the climate is completely different... the building requires its own climate controls.. ther is nothing "passive energy" about it... a building that tall is a power sink.

    Source(s): I've been in more than one tall building before and I know how to build one.
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  • Trevor
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Good point that Anders makes - tall buildings are more reliant on reinforcements in the form of steel and concrete than squat buildings and the extraction and production of both produces a lot of greenhouse gases. However, to offset this you could argue that in tall buildings each unit has shared walls and floors so the amount of material needed to construct each unit is lower. In this repsect the two may well cancel each other out.

    One area in which they will contrinbute to global warming is that they will absorb a greater amount of solar radiation than shorter buildings and it's this solar radiation (heat from the sun) then contributes to global warming when it's radiated back out into the atmosphere.

    However, the difference that a few tall buildings will make is tiny in the larger scheme of things. A proper explanation would be full of technical mumbo jumbo and involve a lot of lengthy calculations.

    What you didn't say is why you think these tall buildings may be affecting global warming.

  • Fr. Al
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Your first responder gives the facts and formulas. I disagree with him on the interpretation and effect. Tall buildings use more energy and dissipate it inefficiently. They reflect heat rather than absorb it, and do so in a concentrated area (this is how Chicago became the "Windy City") the areas they occupy are not conducive to green areas or trees. Global warming is a reality only the myopic fail to see. Those tall buildings contain furniture made from endangered rain forests, as well as asbestos and synthetics which emit pollutants as they degrade. They may not kill a nauga for the hide, but the refineries don't do much good to surrounding life forms.

    [edit: obviously idiots like Randy have never stood on Michigan Avenue or State Street, or flown over cities with high rises and felt the turbulence, or looked into the night sky towards a city and been unable to see stars at night because of the glow (believe it or not there is heat where there is light), or seen New York streets and sidewalks so hot you could fry an egg (this doesn't happen around the lower brownstones). Have you considered the energy use needed to pump water to the higher floors? Or did you think it got there by magic or natural flow? Have you ever held your hand above a light bulb (I know none ever goes on in your ideas)? Multiply that bulb by the many thousands that are on all night in virtually every one of these buildings, and then tell me your lies about there being no effect on temperature. Add to that the elevators(or do you walk even to the third floor?), ventilation systems (paradoxically while the heat is on, most are also running their air conditioners), computers (why do they need fans?) and electronic security systems ( at minimal use none of these things run "cold"). Most of the hot air in Washington is coming from the lobbies, neocons, and energy companies. Unfortunately too many others are holding their breath.]

    [edit: Anders you'll note I underscored rather than disputed you facts and formulas, but still hold that there is a more than significant net gain to temperature due to high rise buildings:

    2.5.7 Anthropogenic Heat Release

    Urban heat islands result partly from the physical properties

    of the urban landscape and partly from the release of heat into

    the environment by the use of energy for human activities such

    as heating buildings and powering appliances and vehicles

    (‘human energy production’). The global total heat flux from

    this is estimated as 0.03 W m–2 (Nakicenovic, 1998). If this

    energy release were concentrated in cities, which are estimated

    to cover 0.046% of the Earth’s surface (Loveland et al., 2000)

    the mean local heat flux in a city would be 65 W m–2. Daytime

    values in central Tokyo typically exceed 400 W m–2 with a

    maximum of 1,590 W m–2 in winter (Ichinose et al., 1999).

    Although human energy production is a small influence at the

    global scale, it may be very important for climate changes in

    cities (Betts and Best, 2004; Crutzen, 2004).

    The other maps and charts in your reference also graphically show the increase of aerosols particularly in and around the urban developed areas, part of this is related to the materials peculiar to high rises. They are not an effective panaeacea to land use.]

    [Do note the great discrepancy between the projected mean and the actual for Tokyo alone, there is some difference between 65 and 400, and just a bit more wouldn't you say between 65 and 1,590. I know simple things like numbers are beyond the comprehension of a few people, but they're not "mumbo jumbo". Also the heat is not so much absorbed as it is reflected and added to that radiated from the energy use within the building, and the greater part of the surfaces of these buildings does not point up and out into space, but across to other high buildings so that the area between heats and creates vortices (interpret "winds") such as those occurring in Chicago with the first high rises.]

    [It also should be pointed out that the greater part of the use of these buildings is not as residences or mini-cities, but offices and businesses for people who are commuting in from the sprawling and land intensive suburbs, where families are occupying single dwellings typically housing a family of two to four persons in houses of at least ten large rooms with pools and four car garages.]

  • Anders
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    The only reason they would contribute to global warming is if they need more energy to be constructed than shorter buildings. Considering that even an entire citys change of land albedo is extremely limited shows that there is no risk of tall buildings affecting the Earth's climate.

    This is the total effect of urban areas on the climate: Anthropogenic (man-made) heating of urban areas, which is caused by physical changes of that environment and the release of energy (heat), is estimated to be 0.03 W/m2 world-wide.

    The combined anthropogenic RF is +1.6 [ -1.0, +0.8] W/m2.

    The combined natural RF ( solar irridiance, volcanic aerosols) is + 0.12 [-0.06, +0.18].

    * RF is defined as the change in net irridiance at the Tropopause (boundary between Troposphere and Stratosphere).

    Thank you Trevor. :)

    Fr. Al: There are, indeed, more factors (which could be quite extensive in detail). My reasoning is that instead of two buildings there would be one tall one as there is still the same need from people. I didn't specify so much on the details as the overall effect on a greater scale. I am not sure if the reflective surface of buildings would effect GW as the reflected light should be aimed at surfaces not reflected back in to space. I think that the content in houses (furniture) don't have too much to do with their height.

    There would be, as grizzbr1 states, an increased area left for agricultural use, or forests, by constructing one tall building instead of two medium ones. The surface albedo and CO2 absorbtion would have some impact. It is negligable though.

    Edit. Fr.Al: The "discrepancy between the projected mean and the actual for Tokyo" is indeed very interesting. Some studies comparing Tokyo with other cities could give answers as to what it depends upon. Is it an error in the original estimates, which gives the mean of + 65 W/m2, or is the situation in Tokyo unique? And, if so, what does it depend upon?

    The amount of solar radiation that is reflected of the buildings is another interesting concept. I envisioned that the building surfaces would more or less reflect the sun light to the ground, in a contrasting angle, as most building surfaces are vertical. Here it would be abosorbed, and/or reflected back up towards the sky again. In the case of high rises, it would have a lot of stops on the way as the light bounces from building to building on its way down. This would lead to increased opportunities for it to be converted in to heat. However, comparing the effects of one building with 100 floors to that of two buildings with 50 floors would proberly nullify these effects. The effect of heat flux is very much concentrated though when it comes high rises as compared with 'nomal' buildings.

    Thanks for bringing something interesting to this topic. It's rarely seen concept in here.

  • 1 decade ago

    Great answers to a very provocative question.

    I'd like to add that, in my opinion, the building themselves don't add or subtract much from global warming. The major impact I see is on low-level weather and wind patterns which they do change. Chicago isn't the only windy city from air currents between the buildings. The wind sure can tear through the streets of NYC too but Chicago's weather pattern are exacerbated by the lake effect which makes Chicago windy without any buildings. And, yes, I'm sure the politicians add some wind (and other bad weather) to the mix. :-D

    More than buildings, however, is the issue of pavement. "As calculated by the researchers, the total impervious surface area of the 48 states and District of Columbia is approximately 112,610 square kilometers [43,480 square miles], and, for comparison, the total area of the state of Ohio is 116,534 square kilometers [44,994 square miles]."

    All this pavement (and especially asphalt) act as giant heat sinks absorbing a tremendous amount of solar radiation and releasing it at night. There is an evening temperature differential of at least 4-5 degrees between the inner city and outlying rural regions for this reason alone.

    Have you ever stepped from a green space onto asphalt and noticed the difference in heat? Have you ever noticed a hawk circling above a parking lot, riding the thermals? Have you ridden in a small plane through a city over green space and parking lots? The first time I came over the Indiana University campus in a small plane it suddenly tipped a full 45 degrees and I panicked. My teacher told me to relax as that was the effect of catching the edge, with only one wing, of a thermal rising above the parking lot.

    So, what is the total area paved for the world?

    Besides heat absorption we are drastically cutting down the area of vegetation that serves to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Estimates of the amount of the world's oxygen that is produced by the world's tropical forest range between 20 and 40% obviously a huge amount regardless of the exact percentage. And the world's forests are being destroyed.

    Indonesia, which is home to 10 percent of the world's tropical rain forests, has already lost 72 percent of its original forest. Half of what remains is threatened.

    Although tropical rain forests cover only 14 percent of the Earth’s surface, they contain three quarters of the 1.85 million animal and plant species known to man. It is estimated that as many as 20 million species exist, 90 percent of which reside in the tropics. Mankind will probably never know about most of them, as they will be destroyed along with their forests before they’re ever discovered.

    Brazil's rain forest is as big as Western Europe and covers 60 percent of the country's territory. Experts say as much as 20 percent of its 1.6 million square miles has already been destroyed by development, logging and farming. Burning in the Brazilian Amazon releases about 370 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year -- about 5 percent of the world total.

    I don't know, and I don't think anyone actually knows, exactly how much differential the earth can tolerate without major adjustments.

    I also find it terribly sad that my christian fundamentalist friends believe that humans are incapable of screwing up their god's creation so there can't be any danger to global warming because there isn't any global warming. These are the same people that don't believe that their god will allow us to destroy life with atomic warfare. Don't worry, be happy, god will take care of all his fools and destroy the world when he is good and ready. Pathetic! And I include this in my response to this question because I strongly believe that this attitude is part of the problem and not at all a part of any potential solution.

    Unless we nuke the earth into a burned out chunk of rock (an unlikely outcome of a total nuclear war), the earth with survive the abuse it has suffered at the hands of humans. We have often been compared, accurately in my opinion, to a virus that invades it host. The host suffers until the virus is destroyed. I'm sure that when we are extinct the planet will make a great recovery. And it does appear that we humans are an evolutionary dead end destined to create our own extinction.

  • 1 decade ago

    I agree with Belladonna 100%.

    As far as how I see it, if they do not cut down trees to build those God Awful Skyscrapers and plant a tree for every 20 squarefeet (approx) of the space they are utilising the Mother Earth will do just fine.

    Just don't cut any trees and plant as many as you can. If each and everyone of us plants a tree for every year of our life and take care of it for a year, we will be doing what should be done, to say the least. Cheers :o)


    Take Care, and God Bless us all with the Wisdom to do so !

    Amen !

  • 1 decade ago


    If you accept that Global Warming is true, then you have to accept the official explanations for it instead of trivial things like tall building vs. short buildings vs. no buildings. Its caused by burning fossil fuels. So they say.

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