I fail to understand why most people refuse to believe that in the next 10 years we will probably be seeing much higher prices for gas and oil. New houses that are built now may not be heatable within 15 years, yet the life of a dwelling should be much longer than that. Apartment houses save heating costs inherently because of their geometry. They also save transportation because people are clustered in one location so they can walk to work. Getting better fuel economy in cars will not be enough. We must greatly reduce miles driven. It will also be necessary to grow more food locally in order to reduce the energy cost of transportation.
An apartment house that has a solar trough energy sysytem on the roof can supply most of its own summer air conditioning energy plus some heat for the winter. Cogeneration and comanufacturing will greatly reduce heat bills. The recycling of sewage into water, energy, and fertilizer will give us some biogas plus fertilizer we will need when the mines play out. Tree planting programs are an easy way for locals to produce energy and fight Global Warming.
Funding a massive change to apartments will cost money. However a demonstration project would be easy to fund because people will be living in it and paying for it. If the project could be sold to city, county, and the universities it would not only support vital experimentation, but would also alert the public as to what can be done locally to ameliorate the catstrophe that is coming for our children.
The efforts of the national governmet in rthe areas of sustainability and energy are pitiful. If local government doesn't show the way then a catastrophe will result. We must try to produce alternate energy but without conservation all efforts will fail. The model that works is that of Europe of 60 years ago. No houses, and streets lined with apartments. Transportation must be by train and streetcar. Note that Europe is living on half the energy per capita that we are using. The Chinese may be living on 10%. Sprawl is a killer. If we care for the children then we must act.