Smart growth key to CO2 reduction

Issue Date: Wed, 2009-07-01
Page Number: 9

Two studies reinforce the importance of walkable, compact development in dealing with climate change. New research by the nonprofit Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) compares greenhouse gas emissions of city and suburban households in 55 metropolitan areas across the U.S. When measured on a per household basis, it found that the transportation-related emissions of people living in cities and compact neighborhoods can be nearly 70 percent less than those living in suburbs.

“Cities are more location-efficient – meaning key destinations are closer to where people live and work,” said Scott Bernstein, CNT’s president. “They require less time, money, fuel and greenhouse gas emissions for residents to meet their everyday travel needs. People can walk, bike, car-share, take public transit. So residents of cities and compact communities generate less CO2 per household than people who live in more dispersed communities, like many suburbs and outlying areas.”

CNT’s research shows that average transportation costs vary greatly depending on location, from a low of 14 percent of area household median income in transit-rich, compact communities, to highs of 28 percent or more in exurban areas where employment, retail, and other amenities are more dispersed. Transportation accounts for 28 percent of all greenhouse gases in the US. The data from the study is available on the web where detailed maps allow viewers to see carbon emissions, as well as household costs, at a neighborhood level. See

Another study released in June estimates that policies aimed at encouraging more urban development and less car-dependent transportation infrastructure could reduce the need for Americans to drive by 10 percent by the year 2030. This reduction — amounting to a savings of 145 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, equal to the annual emissions of about 30 million cars or 35 large coal plants — would be a achieved while saving money, says Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) in Washington, DC.

“Our analysis indicates that we can achieve transportation emissions reductions with significant economic benefits, yielding net cost savings per ton CO2, when factoring in avoided infrastructure costs, consumer fuel and insurance cost savings and projected tax revenue growth from high value economic development,” said Steve Winkelman, of CCAP.

Posted by New Urban News on 01 Jul 2009