Efficient land use patterns and communities designed to accommodate all modes of travel, including walking, biking, and public transportation are vital parts of increasing the energy efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. transportation system. EESI advances policies that help local communities build and develop in “energy-smart” ways. Community features that can enhance energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions include:

  • Compact development, which conserves open space in communities.
  • Mixed land use combining residential, commercial, job centers, schools, social services, public institutions, etc.
  • Infrastructure design (i.e. Complete Streets) practices, which enhance travel between destinations by all modes and users--including transit riders, bicyclists, pedestrians and vehicles.

Building in “energy smart” ways can also provide benefits to communities aside from reducing carbon emissions. Smart infrastructure in land use planning and community design can build strong local economies and attract business while also supporting healthier and safer communities.

Analyses of transportation costs and fuel consumption of neighborhoods, regions, and states, have shown energy use and carbon emissions halved through land use planning and community design. These studies strongly suggest that one's personal transportation carbon footprint often depends more on where you live than on what you drive.

Providing options to meet personal needs without leaving home (i.e., telecommuting, online shopping, mobile delivery of services) can greatly reduce travel demand. Fewer trips results in less gasoline consumption, providing financial savings while cutting carbon emissions.


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