NAHB report on land use and emissions is picked apart
A February 2011 report from the National Association of Home Builders, Climate Change, Density and Development, contains misrepresentations that "significantly understate smart growth's potential impacts and benefits," Todd Litman argues in a 19-page report released by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute (VTPI).
Robert Steuteville took the erroneous thinking of the NAHB to task in a May 31 New Urban Network blog posting. Among the sources that Steuteville drew from was an article by Litman in the May 2011 Center for Real Estate Quarterly. The Quarterly article, titled "Can Smart Growth Policies Conserve Energy and Reduce Emissions," pointed out that "smart growth policy reforms can help create more accessible, multi-modal communities where residents tend to drive less and rely more on alternative modes."
Now VTPI has released another report by Litman: Critique of the National Association of Home Builders' Research on Land Use Emission Reduction Impacts. In it, he analyzes NAHB research on how various land-use factors affect travel activity and pollution emissions — and therefore the impact and benefits of smart growth policies.
"The NAHB contends that these impacts and benefits are small, so smart growth is an ineffective emission reduction strategy, but these conclusions are based on an inaccurate summation of its own research. It confuses the concepts of density as an isolated factor with compact development which also includes increased accessibility, mix, connectivity, walkability and parking management.
"These misrepresentations significantly understate smart growth’s potential impacts and benefits. Actual travel impacts are probably four to eight times greater than the NAHB implies (doubling all land use factors typically reduces affected residents’ vehicle travel 20-40%, compared with the 5% indicated), and total benefits are far greater due to additional co-benefits ignored in this study.
"The NAHB actually has good reasons to support smart growth policies that prepare communities for future consumer demands, and provide savings that leave households with more money to spend on housing."