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Smart growth a cost-effective answer to climate change

Marc Lefkowitz  |  07/28/09 @ 10:08am

Two recent studies confirm that walkable, compact development will be important as we deal with climate change.

First, The Center for Neighborhood Technology's "location efficiency" web tool drills down into 55 metro areas and maps the cost of sprawl from transportation. 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 low-density or poorly connected suburbs.

And a June study from Center for Clean Air Policy found 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.

The report concludes:

Smart growth is not only cost-effective compared to other mitigation measures, it can be profitable. If we ignore the full economic benefits of smart growth and improved transportation choices, we miss inexpensive GHG reductions that also provide additional community benefits and reduce the burden on other sectors to reduce their emissions. Dedicating a meaningful portion of allowance value to smart growth planning would be a cost-effective investment that can lower economy-wide GHG mitigation costs.

Both of the studies were reported on in the latest issue of New Urban News.

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