Maximizing Energy Productivity

How can we continue to improve the region’s energy use?

Photo courtesy of Compass Blueprint/SCAG

Improving the efficiency of our buildings, businesses, and transportation system means being able to do the same things using less energy and creating fewer emissions, all while saving money.

Energy efficiency efforts in the region must continue and expand

The region has become a national leader in the amount of energy demand that is met through energy efficiency. The leading states can keep reducing emissions by continuing to support their programs at current funding levels while other states can expand investments to gain more emissions savings. Funding for heating oil and propane efficiency lags substantially behind other efficiency funding in all states, and developing a strategy for this market could yield significant reductions in emissions through improvements in weatherization.

State and local transportation and land use policies must evolve to promote more efficient development

While new federal fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks will help reduce transportation emissions, more is needed to put the region on track to meet its longer-term climate goals. Transportation agency budgets should prioritize expanding public transit and transitioning to more efficient freight technologies and cleaner fuels.

The zoning laws that heavily influence development patterns in the region have long favored sprawling suburban and exurban development. Improvements to “locational efficiency” are needed so that more homes are situated in areas that require less driving for daily tasks. Policies to allow and promote more walkable communities closer to public transit and workplaces will reduce the number of miles driven by a household. The high property values of homes in the few municipalities of this type in the region are an indication of: (1) their inherent value and (2) the current shortage created by the zoning laws that have discouraged this type of development.