Research Outline

Building Heights


To determine the stock of office buildings and hotels by height in 3 geographic regions: the United States, EMEA and APAC.

Early Findings

There is no evidence that data for buildings by height exists in the public domain for the EMEA and APAC regions. It is possible data exists for smaller regions, such as specific countries within the regions. Most data sets for buildings in the U.S. categorize building size by square feet, not by building height. Research shows sporadic sub-sets of data are available detailing building height by stories or building age. But these sources are separate as the data is not compiled.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy determined there were 5,557,000 buildings in the U.S. in 2015. Of these, 1,012,000 are categorized as office, and 158,000 are categorized as lodging.
  • White papers such as Cities Without Skylines: Worldwide Building-Height Gaps and their Implications, published this past August, reference many relevant sources of information that warrant further development. The referenced sources most likely contain data sets that may be used to quantify the number of buildings in certain global regions by height.
  • The Skyscraper Center provides data sets categorized by tall heights. Their data shows there are 5,373 buildings globally that are taller than 150 meters.
  • A 2015 paper, Urban Skylines: building heights and shapes as measures of city size, analyzed buildings in 12 U.S. cities. It analyzed the shapes of about 4.8 million buildings in the cities. The paper's authors concluded, " Larger cities have on average taller and bigger buildings as an adaptation to higher population and employment densities and levels of income. The shape of buildings changes on average with city size, starting out fairly flat in small cities to become increasingly cubic in larger cities, whose downtowns also feature a high prevalence of increasingly taller needlelike skyscrapers." And explained, "the average height of buildings in metropolitan areas in North America can be predicted using urban scaling theory and how the shape and size of buildings can be characterized by one single scale and a set of shape parameters."
  • Emporis has compiled data on more than 700,000 buildings worldwide. Their statistics page gathers data on tall buildings located globally.
  • The Eurpoean Union produces a buildings database that provides the quantity of building structures by type, like office and hotel. Further research is needed to determine if the database references building heights.
  • The EU's 'European Building and Urban Stock Data Collection' provides details regarding calculating building height, as well as location of buildings.