Don’t forget walkable neighborhoods in city climate action plans

Smart Growth America wants to remind cities about the importance of developing walkable neighborhoods in their climate action plans


Smart Growth America (SGA) is urging mayors to accomplish climate action goals by also driving community development with walkable neighborhoods served by transit. In a post on Medium, the coalition working with communities to fight sprawl since 2000 applauded U.S. mayors that have stepped up in recent weeks to global climate commitments that focus on reducing building and vehicle emissions.

But SGA said that by developing compact neighborhoods, cities can actually reach their emissions goals faster. Making it easier for people to drive less must be part of city climate action plans to reduce emissions:

Compact, walkable neighborhoods are efficient. They use less car fuel, home energy use and water. In 2015, electricity  —  including energy use for homes and businesses  —  accounted for 29 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and transportation accounted for 27 percent. Transportation emissions increased from 1990 to 2015, as Americans drove approximately 40 percent more.”

The organization urges mayors take the following key steps to develop walkable neighborhoods as part of their climate action plans:

  • Make it safer for people to bike and walk
  • Prioritize public transit.
  • Remove obstacles to locating homes and businesses near that transit.
  • Reduce barriers to building on land that has already been developed.
  • Allow mixed-use development
  • Make sure your street network interconnects
  • Support a diverse housing stock

“You’re doing great work out there, America’s mayors. Keep it up—we’re here to support you,” Smart Growth America concluded.

Learn more and get granular with SGA’s climate action details on the Medium website.

Andrea Fox is Editor of and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.