AbstractThere has been a good deal of discussion over the most sustainable model for development of housing in India. Planners discuss the advantages of low-rise versus high-rise development in terms of energy and cost efficiency. Shortage and high cost of land has been a justification for high-rise development. In this paper, mixed housing (EWS, LIG, MIG, and HIG), from 1 to 30 stories, has been analyzed at a city level for a fixed population for embodied energy, construction cost, and potential for CO2e sequestration. The inference drawn from this exercise is that low-rise (1–4 stories) load-bearing development is energy and cost efficient and can accommodate the maximum number of housing units in about 4% of the land area in a city. High-rise development is 194% and 17.5% more than low-rise in terms of embodied energy and construction cost, respectively. It is also found that 100% of CO2e can be sequestered by planting trees in available open areas in low-rise developments compared with 57% in high-rise development (30-story). Further, high-rise development results in only marginal increase in open areas after four stories. Hence, high-rise development is neither sustainable nor cost effective.