Help cities and counties understand the link between smart growth and energy efficiency


Compact, mixed-use development generally reduces per-unit energy consumption. For example, high density provides more transportation choices, which allow for a reduction in vehicle miles traveled. It also facilitates use of highly efficient district energy systems to help heat and cool buildings. But policies and codes in many communities do not allow for smart growth approaches to development. States therefore should help local governments understand the link between smart growth and energy efficiency.

The state agency responsible for energy planning should work with local governments to ensure that land-use planning goals and state energy planning goals are coordinated (see Policy #2, Articulate a vision for how the state should grow, in the Comprehensive Approaches section). Such coordination can create opportunities to identify and capture major energy savings in development projects.


The state energy agency can work with the state planning department to produce a set of technical bulletins or other materials that discuss the connection between development patterns and energy efficiency, as well as regulatory barriers to compact, mixed-use development. The materials can be used by cities and counties to update their land-use plans, policies and codes, and to otherwise advance the case for the adoption of smart growth policies.

Where funds are available, the state energy agency can work with the planning agency to create a small grant program to provide technical assistance to localities to aid them in updating their regulations and codes to promote smart growth.

States also can examine the regulatory framework that relates to energy planning. The regulatory framework will determine the method by which energy agencies can link their planning activities to state and local level land-use planning. In some states, legislation may be required to direct agencies responsible for energy planning to work with local planners; in others states, an executive order will suffice.


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