One of the many duties that Urban Planners have, and probably the most significant, is to create healthy and sustainable communities. In order for the modern world to progress, the promotion of new energy strategies is a necessity. Therefore, Energy Planning must be factored into all decisions involving transportation, industry, agriculture, and electricity. Although “peak oil” seems afar off, that does not mean that we should right it off as if it were not a present danger. Peak oil is still a matter of major concern and should start being addressed as if it were a problem today, now. Future generations are relying on us to be altruistic. Thus, “Contemporary Urban Planning”, lists strategies that can be taken to conserve energy and lists them into four general categories: Land-use planning, changes in building characteristics, changes in transportation, and community energy sources. I will be addressing the following: land use planning, changes in transportation and building characteristics.
A land-use planning strategy that can be used is encouraging mixed-use development. Probably the greatest fueler to global climate change and oil depletion has to be suburban sprawl. Suburban sprawl has caused people to fill up their gas tanks time and time again to sustain their long distance travelings between residential and commercial destinations. The best way to combat suburban sprawl is to limit distances travels via automobile. This can be done through mixed-use development. For example, the merging of residential and commercial can decrease commuting and shopping distances, by making the destinations, such as, residential and commercial, accessible by foot, elevator and/or stairs. It also allows shoppers to live and play conveniently within walking distance, which is ecologically friendly and free.
Transportation is the largest single user of petroleum, consuming more than half of petroleum quads in the United States. This is the reason why Levy lists changes in transportation as a category. One of the strategies that he explains can be utilized by planners to conserve energy is separating light rails, bicycle lanes, and automobile lanes. This therefore makes other forms of transportation more safe therefore encouraging people to leave their cars at home and take the light rail or bicycle. Davis, California, is a prime example of this. Davis, CA, has designated 25 percent of all passenger miles to bicycle lanes.
Levy also lists Changing Building Characteristics as a category. The strategy listed with this category is encouraging row housing, rather than free standing single-family units. The way that this strategy conserves energy is by reducing the amount of energy used in heating buildings — it reduces the amount of surface exposure to the elements outside. Connecting houses together leaves no room for heat to escape to the outside, instead it confines heat to only the inside of that home. Another is making buildings that face the south on streets that run east and west so that buildings can retain the maximum amount of solar exposure. A “green code” could be mandate solar panels in such neighborhoods so that such solar exposure can be captured and used.