Most commuters want to drive less. Many homebuyers want to live in walkable neighborhoods. This Natural Resources Defense Council article is a two-page primer on smart growth. It describes the benefits of mixed-use and location-efficient communities.

Residents of communities designed using smart growth strategies drive as little as one-fifth as much as their counterparts in conventional sprawl developments. This reduced dependence on automobiles means less money spent on gas, increased outdoor activity like walking and cycling, improved rates of public transit ridership, and less global warming pollution released into the air. In fact, if all new communities were designed using smart growth strategies we could slash emissions by about 595 million metric tons after 10 years, or 10 percent of total U.S. emissions of global warming pollution.

This Smart Growth America article has research findings along the same lines, that building compact, walkable neighborhoods would prevent a lot of greenhouse gas emissions.

Implementing the policies recommended in the report would reverse a decades-long trend. Since 1980, the number of miles Americans drive has grown three times faster than population, and almost twice as fast as vehicle registrations. Spread-out development is the key factor in that rate of growth, the research team found.

The findings show that people who move into compact, “green neighborhoods” are making as big a contribution to fighting global warming as those who buy the most efficient hybrid vehicles, but remain in car-dependent areas.