Working Paper

Spatial Development and Energy Consumption

Dec 19, 2007 | Elena A. Safirova, Sébastien Houde, Winston Harrington


Previous literature has suggested that the urban form (i.e., city size, density, and center distribution pattern) influences urban energy consumption. It has been argued that more dense development is likely to result in more energy-efficient and sustainable cities. However, very little is known about the precise magnitude of possible energy savings from more compact urban form. Moreover, practically no research has been done to investigate which urban policies are likely to be effective in making cities more energy efficient and to quantify those potential energy savings.In this paper we discuss the potential effectiveness of urban policies at improving energy efficiency. First, we analyze several abstract scenarios suggested by the literature to see whether making a previously dispersed city more compact would result in improved energy efficiency. Then we model realistic transportation and land-use policies and examine whether those policies are likely to reduce energy consumption in the urban context.