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Chicago–based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) has long-made research a core part of its practice—in fact, the firm's Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan was released 10 years ago this week. In its most recent publication, Residensity: A Carbon Analysis of Residential Typologies, the firm identifies nine housing typologies—ranging from suburban single family to megatall towers—and analyzes the land use, energy, transport, and embodied carbon of each to draw conclusions about what densities may best contribute toward a net-zero built environment.

Andrew Griffiths/Lensaloft; courtesy Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

In this podcast, AS+GG partner Gordon Gill, FAIA, and sustainability director Christopher Drew explain the origins and methodology of the study, and discuss the questions that arose during their research—questions that often outnumbered the conclusions. One thing that did become clear during the research is that as operational carbon use is reduced by more efficient building systems and energy grids over time, the embodied carbon in every one of the typologies makes up an even larger percentage of a building's life cycle carbon footprint than ever before. So, taking the questions of efficiency and density into consideration before designing and building new residential communities is critical.

courtesy Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

To read more about the housing prototypes developed for this study, look at the visual excerpt in the January 2020 issue of ARCHITECT. More information on the study can also be found at

This podcast episode was recorded in December 2019 and produced by Katie Gerfen and Rob Grauert.