Urban Structure and Energy -- A Review

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Urban Policy and Research, 2008, 26 (1), pp. 57 - 81
Issue Date:
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The nature and form of the urban environment is a critical determinant of the sustainability of our society, as it is responsible directly for a large proportion of consumed energy, and influences indirectly the patterns and modes of energy consumed in everyday activities. We examine the current state of research into the energy and greenhouse gas emissions attributable directly or indirectly to urban form. Specifically, we look at the embodied (construction) and operational energy attributable to the construction, maintenance and use of residential dwellings, and we review the literature on the relationship between urban structure and private travel behaviour. While there is clear evidence from both intra- and inter-city comparisons that higher density, transit-oriented cities have lower per-capita transport energy use, the effect of housing density on residential (in-house) energy use is less clear. More detailed research is needed to examine the relationships between urban form and overall energy use.
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