judgments about the energy conservation benefits of more compact development patterns. More specifically, the study request, contained in Section 1827 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (see Appendix A), calls for consideration of four topics:

  • The correlation, if any, between land development patterns and increases in VMT.

  • An assessment of whether petroleum use in the transportation sector can be reduced through changes in the design of development patterns.

  • The potential benefits of

    • Information and education programs for state and local officials (including planning officials) on the potential for energy savings through planning, design, development, and infrastructure decisions;

    • Incorporation of location efficiency models in transportation infrastructure planning and investments; and

    • Transportation policies and strategies to help transportation planners manage the demand for and the number and length of vehicle trips, including trips that increase the viability of other means of travel.

  • Any other relevant topics deemed appropriate for consideration.

The study committee interpreted its charge by both expanding and consolidating the scope. The most important addition was an assessment of the potential benefits of more compact development in reducing CO2 emissions, which can readily be derived from estimates of reduced petroleum use.3 On the other hand, the committee determined that evaluating the potential benefits of information and education programs was not feasible through a scientific assessment because the


This addition was approved by staff of the U.S. Department of Energy, which funded the study.

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