Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
A Study of the Sustainability Implications of
Differing Urban + Suburban Locations in Chicago
Project Started: February 2014
Funding Sponsor: CTBUH
Anticipated Project Completion: February 2016
Principal Investigators: Dr. Antony Wood, CTBUH/IIT & Peng Du, CTBUH/IIT
The research study is aimed at understanding what factors really do contribute to “sustainability” in an urban/suburban context.

Though the belief in the sustainability benefits of "dense" versus "dispersed" is driving the development of cities over the world, the principal has never actually been examined at a detailed level. This study is thus focused on demystifying the myths on both sides of the density vs. sprawl debate. The fundamental objectives of this research project are two-fold; (i) to investigate the true sustainability aspects of people’s lifestyle through a comparison of Chicago downtown high-rise and suburban low-rise living, and (ii) to develop a methodology for this evaluation for the benefit of other cities globally.
Funding Sponsor
Project Milestones

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Suburban low-rise case studies: Oak Park, IL
The initial phase of this study is being undertaken based on two case studies: a series of residential towers in the City of Chicago as the urban high-rise case studies, and Oak Park as the suburban low-rise case studies. A phase II of the project will take place in other suburban areas. In these two scenarios, the multidisciplinary research embraces factors such as the embodied energy of the materials in the inhabitation; the actual monthly energy consumption of the home (and the implications of differing power sources – electric, gas, bio-fuel, district heating, etc.); mobility movements through all modes of transport – walking, bicycling, automobile, bus, CTA train, Metra, etc.; the embodied and operating energy of the infrastructure to support inhabitation; and the other direct energy-carbon implications of each lifestyle.

The research project engages with individuals, couples and families in the households that inform the study to determine issues on the quality of life between dense high rise and suburban low rise living.
Urban high-rise case studies: (left to right): Aqua Tower, Commonwealth Plaza & The Legacy at Millennium Park, Chicago
Contact Information
For more information or any questions, please contact Co-project Investigator, Peng Du, via email at