CNT President Chosen as Top Urban Thinker

Cited a “top active thinker of today”, CNT President Scott Bernstein landed on Planetizen’s recent “crowd sourcing experiment” to identify the top 100 urban thinkers of all time. Among an impressive list of academics, civic leaders, authors and politicians, Scott was ranked #27 by voters.

Among Scott’s achievements, one of the most significant right now is his contributions in coining the term “location efficiency”, which is becoming more widely known and used to draw the connection between where we live and how much we spend on transportation.

Google the term “location efficiency”. The first result links to the Location Efficient Mortgage (LEM), developed by CNT, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Surface Transportation Policy Project in 1995. LEM’s recognize the savings available to people who live in location efficient communities.

While the concept of energy efficiency is a familiar term, locations can be efficient too. Compact neighborhoods with an interconnected street network, access to transit, mixed land uses, and concentration of retail and services are highly efficient communities. When brought together, these elements enable an efficiency of scale. The savings add up for households and communities. Transportation costs can range from 15% of household income in location efficient neighborhoods to over 28% in inefficient locations. Greenhouse gas emissions fluctuate too, depending on household reliance on costly, carbon-intensive automobile travel.

Today, federal policies like the Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods (GREEN) Act are structured on the same model—by providing incentives to lenders and financial institutions to provide lower interest loans and other benefits to consumers, who build, buy or remodel their homes and businesses to improve their energy efficiency.

As we figure out how to become more efficient in a time of strained resources, it’s becoming clearer that the road involves adding the concept of “location” to the overall efficiency puzzle.