Policy Brief: Can Compact Growth Decrease Automobile Emissions?

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Tailpipe emissionsScientists and policy makers have examined the usefulness of vehicle technologies, alternative energy sources, and regulatory mechanisms to control automobile emissions. However, changing the patterns of future land development may be a promising complementary strategy often overlooked outside of planning circles. Existing evidence suggests that building more compactly, with harmonious land uses and with infrastructure to support transit, pedestrian, and bicycle modes of travel, may assist in decreasing harmful tailpipe emissions and mitigating global warming.

Importantly, compact growth is one of the few emissions reduction strategies implemented at the local level. Changes in technology and federally controlled emissions standards are out of reach of local communities. In this study, the research team examined whether compact development can reduce automobile emissions and how these compare to reductions from technology changes applied to vehicles.

Read the policy brief.

Photo by Ruben de Rijcke, Wikimedia Commons