Submitted by Indraneel Kumar
The State of California recently sued San Bernardino County for failing to account for greenhouse gas emissions in its 25-year growth plan. San Bernardino County is the largest county in the U.S., even larger than the combined land area of states, such as Connecticut, Delaware, Vermont, and Rhode Island. (Read more here). For the first time in U.S., a state has asked for accountability of greenhouse gas emissions in a comprehensive or growth plan. The way we develop land has an impact on travel patterns, resultant trips, congestion on our highways, and more emissions.
Transportation and land use are inherently connected. The land development patterns impact transportation by generating various types of trips similarly a transportation facility induces development of the land. A simple example will be a sprawling development with segregated shopping areas, schools, and parks may generate several un-connected trips on the roads. Similarly, a new interchange may bring forth new developments and activities because of increased accessibility on the site. A comprehensive plan or a growth plan is a blue print for the future development patterns. It has an impact on the greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumptions, etc.
There are concepts and models available for energy-efficient land use planning. This could become an emerging trend in land use and transportation planning, where the focus is on conservation instead of consumption of the energy. The greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and energy efficiency might affect discussions in regional planning and development in the coming years.