Originally Posted by CynicalUnicorn
Building up is inefficient from especially an economic standpoint. Building out is easy, since there's less machinery involved. A crew of a dozen people and some relatively light equipment can build a single-story building with the same volume, purpose, etc. as a skyscraper built with several tower cranes and a much larger crew far more easily and cheaply. But we need to be careful with not ruining the environment, I agree. Fortunately, most of the Americas, Australia, Africa, and Asia are mostly untouched by humans, so we've got a ways to go before total biosphere collapse.
I wasn't speaking in terms of a single building but of how/where we build in general. My point of building up is to condense the human footprint on the planet. Currently in western society (and many other places) we have an extremely small vertical downtown and a extremely large and sprawling suburbia which inherently pushes out further and further. We would be foolish to believe that simply because it is more expensive to build vertically that constantly building horizontally is sustainable.
Instead of racing to cover the planet because it is currently cheap to do so we should be investing in condensing our footprint which in the long run will save more energy and allow us to have a healthier planet to enjoy. The caveat is that most people are programmed to believe they need a house with a yard and car so they can commute to the other side of the suburbs or into the city to work because thats how it was in the 50s. Unfortunately, we would all benefit greatly by combining the suburban and urban population into a small but tall footprint which, interconnected at several levels and across several buildings, would allow a massive populace to live, commute, and work on a minimum amount of energy.