Realtors, Contractors, and Developers

Top 3

Work with relevant stakeholders (property owners, property managers, developers, contractors, and state policy makers) to improve energy-efficiency components of the municipal building code.
Build mixed use, higher-density and transit-oriented development.
Urge clients to equip all new structures and renovated structures with low-emission appliances and improved insulation for ducts, doors, windows, and walls.

Realtors and Brokers

Work with and encourage the state legislature to adopt the highest energy-efficiency standards for new construction and renovation.

Legislation in favor of energy-efficient structures decrease the point sources of air pollution.

Tool: Inform elected representatives at the state level of the increasing local, national, and global demand for energy-efficient buildings.

Inform elected representatives in the municipal and county governments of your personal interest in increasing the supply of energy efficient buildings and encourage legislation that will result in cleaner air.

Inform clients of energy-efficiency and emissions standards.

Home buyers are demanding more energy-efficient houses[i]. Energy-efficient commercial buildings reduce the costs of doing business. Energy efficiency can be used as a marketing tool to attract clients who care about air quality.

Tool: Calculate the energy efficiency of houses and commercial buildings.

As market demand for energy-efficient buildings increases, realtors and brokers who provide current and accurate information about a building's emissions will be better positioned to meet that demand. The data will allow buyers to make better-informed decisions in favor of improved air quality.


  • The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index is the nationally recognized scoring system for measuring a home’s energy performance. The HERS Index Score can be described as a sort of miles-per-gallon (MPG) sticker for houses, giving prospective buyers and homeowners an insight as to how the home ranks in terms of energy efficiency. In addition to a HERS Index Score, a home energy rating also provides the homeowner with a detailed report regarding energy problems in the house.

Tool: Talk to clients about the benefits of energy-efficient houses and commercial buildings.

Informing clients of the savings they can expect from energy-efficient buildings will make investment decisions easier for them.


Contractors and Builders

Prioritize energy efficiency in new buildings and remodels.

Energy-efficient building envelopes, systems, and appliances reduce negative impacts on air quality while also reducing energy costs for households and commercial-building occupants.

Tool: Install the best available technology to attain the highest efficiency standards in new buildings and remodels.

Homeowners are demanding more energy-efficient homes.[ii] Outfitting homes with the best technologies for improving air quality will meet that demand and result in savings for homeowners.


Case Study

Inform homeowners of when they are using the most energy so that they can make changes to reduce consumption and associated costs.

Providing feedback loops to homeowners and commercial-building users that provide real-time data about their energy consumption will help them identify periods of the day when energy use is high and will enable alternative behavior in order to reduce consumption.

Tool: Implement smart metering for electricity.

A smart meter is an electronic device that records electrical-energy consumption in intervals of an hour or less and regularly transmits that information to the utility company for monitoring and billing. By helping households and commercial-building occupants to realize exactly how much energy they are consuming and how much it is costing them, many may can cut back on certain energy uses in order to save money.[iv] Doing so will benefit air quality. 


 A schematic illustration of smart metering for household water consumption. The corresponding system for smart metering of electrical power is similar.

Case Study

Implement the most current building energy efficiency standards.

Implementation of the most recent energy-efficiency standards would reduce the volume of home emissions and help clean our air.[v]

Tool: Encourage the state legislature to adopt the most-current energy-efficiency standards into a new building code.

The building code is directed by the state government. Informing state lawmakers on the benefits of energy efficient building standards is key to lower building emissions.

Tool: Install high-efficiency, low-emissions appliances.

There is a decrease in the output of mono-nitrous oxides (NOx) when one replaces a standard water heater with a low-NOx or ultra-low NOx water heater. Although ultra-low NOx water heaters tend to be less energy efficient, various design techniques can be used to increase the water heater's efficiency to meet the Energy Star criteria.[vi] Most ultra-low NOx water heaters cost about $70 more than low-NOx heaters, with Energy Star rated models approximately $150 more.

Case Studies

Convert your company's vehicle fleet to cleaner vehicles.

Vehicles with better smog ratings (from 8-10) emit anywhere from 70-100% fewer emissions than those emitted by most vehicles sold in Utah today.[vii] These vehicles are commercially available in Utah, so next time you buy a truck for your business, ask the dealer about emissions and smog ratings (see below).[viii]



Tool: Convert vehicle fleets to clean-fuel vehicles, such as CNG and Electric, and adopt other energy-efficient technologies.

Vehicle fleets require large amounts of fuel and will make a significant contribution to improved air quality when they are converted to cleaner forms of fuel. Furthermore, companies that take the lead in converting to cleaner fuels will help set a new industry standard and demonstrate a sense of social responsibility to their clients.


  • Petroleum Reduction Planning Tool for vehicle fleet planning. Provides consumption-saving strategies and instructions on establishing goals for reduced fuel consumption.

Case Studies

Tool: Use natural gas for heavy vehicles, like buses and trucks.

For heavy vehicles, natural gas can be a cost-effective and clean alternative to diesel fuel. Natural gas produces fewer carbon and non-carbon emissions per gram than diesel.[ix]


Real Estate Developers

Take advantage of market shift and redevelop over-retailed real estate into mixed-use and higher density housing.

As online retailers become more prevalent, convenient, and popular, the demand for brick-and-mortar retail sites will decline, leaving former retail space available for redevelopment.[x]

Tool: Encourage the municipal government to adopt a form-based code in appropriate locations, including community centers.

Form-based codes can provide development and permitting incentives that make the code more attractive than current development standards. Focusing on the physical forms of buildings and developments as a whole, rather than on separating land uses, a form-based code encourages compact, mixed-use development, and more biking and walking opportunities.[xi]


Above is a depiction of development elements regulated by most form-based codes.


Tool: Encourage the municipal government to permit accessory dwelling units in all residential areas.

Accessory dwelling units are often referred to as backyard cottages, mother-in-law apartments, or separate upstairs/basement apartments. They are often rented and provide alternatives to the development of new housing by increasing affordable housing options while increasing residential density in existing neighborhoods.

Encourage higher-density and transit-oriented development, smaller block sizes, and higher density of intersections.

People are more likely to use active transportation (non-motorized, like bicycling and walking) and public transportation if blocks are small, street intersections are frequent, and residential densities are high. These factors influence travel behavior and result in reduced vehicle emissions by reducing trip distances and frequencies.

Tool: Build transit-oriented development.

Transit-oriented development (TOD) encourages moderate- and high-density housing and mixed-uses near a transit station. TODs create an environment that is conducive to walking, biking and using public transit. TODs reduce traffic congestion and accidents, while enhancing mobility for cyclists and pedestrians.[xii]


 Key components of a TOD that are related to enhanced air quality.


Tool: Build block lengths less than 400 feet.

Block lengths less than 400 feet increase pedestrian connectivity and mobility for cyclists and pedestrians. Traffic capacity also increases as street networks become more connected. Large block sizes do not facilitate active transportation (non-motorized transportation, like bicycling and walking).[xiii]



Above are several examples of connected urban environments from Allan Jacobs’ Great Streets. A denser urban fabric—meaning more connected streets and smaller blocks—leads to more street-level activity and more opportunities to replace automobile trips with other, less polluting tranportation.


Tool: Provide mid-block crossings on longer blocks.

Mid-block crossings allow people to travel to places that are otherwise underserved by the existing pedestrian network. If formal crossings are too far apart, pedestrians are more likely to cross the street illegally rather than at the next intersection. Mid-block crossings increase the comfort and safety of pedestrians.


Develop well-spaced, walkable commercial, civic, religious, and educational centers around existing cores.

Creating neighborhood centers will make it easier for daily trips to be made on foot, bike, or public transportation.[xiv] Real estate developers play a crucial role in providing such centers, which reduce vehicular trip length and frequency and thus improve air quality.

Tool: Identify opportunities to develop neighborhood centers in which daily needs can be accessed within a 20-minute walk.

Walkable centers are usually between ¼- and ½-mile wide, thus promoting bicycle and pedestrian access.[xv]


 Above is a schematic view of the 20-minute center.

Tool: Encourage the rezoning of underutilized commercial property in community centers to other uses.

Economic development can be fostered by rezoning of underutilized commercial property. This capitalizes on market trends in which traditional brick-and-mortar stores are giving way to online retail and warehouses. As former store spaces become available, they can be repurposed as economic and social centers for the neighborhoods they serve.

Tool: Encourage minimal required parking required in new developments.

Eliminating minimum parking requirements frees up both land and money for better uses. The construction, maintenance, and land costs associated with providing free or subsidized parking can be applied to providing more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly forms of transportation than driving, for example, public transportation or the construction of bicycle and pedestrian corridors.[xvi]



The graph above shows the number of required (red) versus actually used (blue) parking spaces for suburban multi-unit residences (per-unit), for office, and retail (per 1000 square feet of building space).

Case Studies

Tool: Assure that parking pricing represents true costs.

“Free” parking encourages excessive driving, which pollutes our air and ends up costing employers money in healthcare and lost productivity. UCLA Urban Planning Professor Donald C. Shoup estimates that the value of the free-parking subsidy to automobiles was at least $127 billion in the U.S. in 2002. [xvii]


Improve transit ridership through increased accessibility.

Making it more convenient for residents to access public transit will result in the decreased use of private vehicles and their associated emissions.

Tool: Prioritize bicycle and pedestrian routes near and at transit stops.

Bicycle and pedestrian routes near transit stops provide a non-motorized way to move between that stop and transit riders’ final destinations. Bicycle infrastructure increases property values and attracts new development. Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure also provides mobility options for community members who may not have a car - or who choose not to drive - by allowing them to reach their destinations safely and efficiently.


  • The Urbanized Area Formula Funding program (49 U.S.C. 5307) makes Federal resources available to local-transit operations and capital projects, including improvements to bicycle and pedestrian access. Pedestrian improvements within ½-mile of transit stops and bicycle access improvements within three miles are eligible for potential funding.

Create a connected, complete, and safe bicycle and pedestrian system; emphasize navigational simplicity and connecting key neighborhoods, destinations, and transit.

People are unlikely to bike or walk if they feel that doing so is unsafe. Disconnected and poorly maintained sidewalks and bike lanes contribute to perceived lack of safety. Complete alternative transportation networks should emphasize navigational simplicity and connecting neighborhoods and destinations.

Tool: Provide bicycle parking, including long-term parking.

Bicycle parking reduces the inconvenience of searching for a secure and safe place to lock one’s bicycle after arriving at one’s destination and thus promotes bicycle use. 


Case Studies

Tool: Face buildings and their front doors toward the street.

A building’s street-facing façade defines the environment of the street. Blank walls (this is, without windows or doors) are uninviting to pedestrians as if they are not meant to walk there. Buildings with inviting entrances that allow passersby to detect activity inside the building encourage walking.


Tool: Provide end-of-trip facilities (such as changing rooms and showers) for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Commuters who bicycle or walk to work or school may arrive wet, muddy, or sweaty. In order to make walking or cycling to work viable for them, showers and changing facilities (either on-site or close by) are a vital amenity.


Case Studies

  • Indy Bike Hub, Indianapolis. The Indy Bike Hub is a partnership between the City of Indianapolis, the YMCA, and Bicycle Garage Indy (a local bike shop). Situated on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, the Bike Hub provides an ideal location for downtown employees to shower, change, and store their bicycles. Other amenities such as a full-service bike shop and exercise gym are also present on-site.

Tool: Design a physical separation between the sidewalk and street such as park strips, on-street parking or paved tree-grate areas.

Streetscape requirements that provide physical separation between pedestrian, cyclists and automobiles create safer and more walkable environments. Street trees provide shade and separation from automobiles and help to calm traffic. On-street parking zones and parked cars provide a buffer for cyclists and pedestrians.[xviii]


 Above is a sketch of a buffer between apartment entrances and the street.


Tool: Develop a connected system of trails, bikeways, and pedestrian facilities.

Connectivity is a key to making biking and walking convenient. New development or redevelopment should provide designated bikeways and pedestrian pathways. Street networks should be designed to ensure connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Tool: Provide lighting along streets, trails, and public spaces to promote safety.

The use of appropriate lighting along sidewalks, crosswalks and public spaces creates a safer and more comfortable environment for bicyclists and pedestrians especially at night. Lighting requirements should also minimize light pollution.


Tool: Provide pedestrian connectivity through the end of cul-de-sacs.

Cul-de-sacs often force people to take an unnecessarily long route to their destination because there is no direct access through the end of a cul-de-sac. For example, a child’s school may be within 100 yards of his or her home (as the crow flies), but, instead of walking to school, a parent may drive the child a half-mile in a car because their street is a dead-end.

 An example of good school-route pedestrian connectivity, with many access points and no cul-de-sacs.

 An example of poor school-route pedestrian connectivity, with limited access and dead-end cul-de-sacs.

Case Study

  • Cul-de-sac connections, California. The City of Davis, California, requires that cul-de-sacs connect to bicycle and pedestrian corridors. “Davis streets shall be connected with multiple route options for bike and pedestrian travel in new and developed areas. Cul-de-sacs are allowed provided they connect to bicycle/pedestrian corridors.” (from the Davis General Plan)



[iii] Shows U.S. Housing emissions by tons of CO2 per capita for different uses. Appliances and heating are the largest CO2 emitters.

[iv] This is an example of a water meter, but smart meters are cropping up for all different utilities.




[viii] EPA’s new Fuel Economy and Efficiency label.



[xi] From Better Cities.

[xii] Image from Reconnecting America.

[xiii] Image from Allan Jacobs’ Great Streets.


[xv] From Plan Melbourne.

[xvi] Data from ITE’s Parking Generation, 3rd Edition 2004. Courtesy of Ted Knowlton, Wasatch Front Regional Council.


[xviii] From NACTO Street Design Guide.