Thursday, August 7, 2008

Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change / Reid Ewing, et al. -- Washington, D.C.: ULI, 2008.

As the subtitle suggests, Growing Cooler provides statistical evidence to support the claim that compact development is a necessary element of a U.S. effort to stabilize the climate. The book notes the transportation sector’s sizeable contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and the inability of technological changes to meet the necessary reduction targets. It argues for the need to significantly reduce vehicle miles traveled, and the importance of compact development in accomplishing this. Compact development’s significance is compounded by the long time horizons of the built environment relative to policy measures.

As someone already fairly convinced of the benefits of smart growth, I found the information very clearly presented but not revelational. What I found most valuable in Growing Cooler was its definitions of the sometimes nebulous elements of sprawl and of compact development. The book is optimistic that increased compact development will occur given rising gas prices, changing demographics, and an emerging paradigm shift related to climate change.

The last chapter prior to the conclusion presents policy recommendations for federal, state, regional, and local governments, many of which will be familiar to those who follow or are involved in smart growth advocacy. I recommend this book to those who are new to the idea of smart growth or are looking for hard evidence to site to skeptics.

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