Kevin Murphy Addresses Environmental Costs of Urban Teardowns

In 2013 alone, more than 500 houses were demolished in Nashville, Tennessee, a sharp increase from previous years. And hundreds of additional teardowns are expected in a city that’s projected to add a million residents over the next two decades.

Nashville is hardly the only North American city to experience a recent wave of teardowns. In Vancouver, a housing and real estate expert reports that the city issued more than 1.000 demolition permits in 2013. She points out that most of the demolitions are of single-family homes, and each send “more than 50 tonnes of waste to landfills.”

While preservationists have long decried the loss of historic fabric and cultural capital through teardowns, the environmental costs of demolition are increasingly coming to the fore. Read more

*Kevin D. Murphy is Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities and Professor and Chair of Department of History of Art at Vanderbilt University. This article originally appeared on The Conversation on July 21, 2015, and was reprinted by Time magazine on July 23.

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