The report reveals implementing smarter urban growth policies on a global scale could reduce urban infrastructure capital requirements by more than $3 trillion over the next 15 years
Jennifer LeClaire | GlobeSt.com

[Midtown's "backyard," Piedmont Park. Image via New Yatlanta.]
[Midtown’s “backyard,” Piedmont Park. Image via New Yatlanta.]
Would you believe urban sprawl costs the American economy over $1 trillion a year? That’s according to a new study from the New Climate Economy—and Atlanta is a huge culprit.

That $1 trillion includes costs from greater spending on infrastructure, public service delivery and transportation. The study also finds that Americans living in sprawled communities directly bear an astounding $625 billion in extra costs.

“Smart growth is not anti-suburb,” says Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, lead author of theAnalysis of Public Policies that Unintentionally Encourage and SubsidizeSprawl. “Instead, it ensures that diverse housing options are available and incentivizes households to choose the most resource-efficient options that meet their needs. We are now seeing growth in demand by Millennials and the elderly for affordable, compact housing in accessible and multimodal neighborhoods.”

One study finding shows that sprawl increases the distance between homes, businesses, services and jobs, which raises the cost of providing infrastructure and public services by at least 10% and up to 40%. The report reveals implementing smarter urban growth policies on a global scale could reduce urban infrastructure capital requirements by more than $3 trillion over the next 15 years.

“For a real-world example of sprawl versus smart growth, compare Atlanta and Barcelona,” says Helen Mountford, global program director for the New Climate Economy. “Both cities have approximately the same population and the same level of wealth per person, but Atlanta takes up over 11 times as much land and produces six times the transport-related carbon emissions per person as Barcelona.” Read more