The Green Report: Population, Population, Population!

Welcome to another issue of the Green Report. This week, there’s a common theme among the stories coming to us about eco smarts and the future of rental housing: population growth.

The Green Report

Population growth is a concern all over the country as we look forward through the next few decades–remember the book we reported on last year that equated Seattle 2040 with modern-day Japan? We’re not there yet, of course…but a smooth transition into a future with a lot more people in it will require plenty of forethought (and housing!). Read on for this week’s stories on eco-friendly rentals and urban planning for a very urban future. Washington State a “center of substantial Western growth.”

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

This week’s article from Richard Morrill looks at changes in population over the past two years, 2010-2012–years which have afforded us a mild recovery from the recession. There are many factors that contribute to these population changes; while immigration from other countries is not insignificant on the west coast, it is internal (or interstate) migration that more strongly affects the population of states like Washington. In fact, Washington is the second-most preferred destination for those moving to the west coast–after Colorado. When all is said and done, California still leads the pack in absolute growth, although our neighbor to the south also saw the highest rate of out-migration in the west during those two years. Click here for the full report, with plenty of helpful charts.

The ideal micro-apartment: Is it a work of art?

Hailed as the next big thing in high-rent cities like New York and San Francisco, micro-apartments have been rediscovered in a big way. Recall that at the turn of the century, and again around the 1950s, urban housing was very dense, with average square foot counts that rival those found in today’s micro-apartment developments–but those old apartments probably didn’t have murphy bed/sofa combinations quite this seamless. They also don’t have the place of honor that New York’s newest micro-apartment design is currently enjoying–an exhibit in the Museum of the City of New York.

The apartment displayed in the exhibit is just 325 square feet–that’s only a little larger than a one-car garage. It features space-saving features like an ottoman that houses stacking chairs and a tv that slides away to reveal a bar; there’s even room in the kitchenette for a dishwasher. But just how livable is a space that small, especially for couples? Renter Jack Sproule, quoted in the article, points out that the only place to escape to if he argues with his wife…is the restroom. Read more in the New York Times.

ULI and Great City ask: What will denser single-family neighborhoods look like?

As much as we love multifamily housing–and we do love it–not every family prefers to live in an apartment or multifamily building. Single-family housing, both owner- and tenant-occupied, is an important part of Seattle’s many neighborhoods. And as the city population increases, those single-family neighborhoods will have to become somewhat denser to compensate. So just what will that growth look like, and how should it be regulated? ULI and Great City both recently held panels to begin to answer that question. Among the attendees at the ULI panel was City Council member Richard Conlin, who advised that growth in single-family neighborhoods should be “slow and deliberate.” Meanwhile, Smart Growth Seattle, who also attended the panels, is a proponent of the 80 percent rule. Check out their take on the discussion here.


…And finally, just for fun: Tampa takes on eco-friendly urban housing

This image of the future comes to us from and Tampa, FL, where a new 28-acre environmentally-friendly housing project is on its way. Could it bring a slightly more…dare we say…Seattle vibe to the state of Florida? As columnist Alexis Quinn Chamberlain describes, the project will bring people together like never before (at least in Tampa):

Think people with tattoos and earrings, dreadlocks and purple mohawks next to the well-coifed fresh off their latest botox injection — all coming together in a popular urban setting.

Check out the full article here.


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