Urban sprawl, commuting and travel energy consumption

Anne Françoise Marique, Sebastien Dujardin, Jacques Teller, Sigrid Reiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Commuting to and from dense urban centres is often believed to be more energy efficient than commuting from more suburban areas. However, quantitative evidence is lacking. In this context, this paper investigates the interactions between the spatial structure of the territory and transport energy consumption for commuting. Based on empirical surveys carried out every 10 years in Belgium, a quantitative method was developed and applied to assess energy efficiency of home-to-work and home-to-school trips. The main findings highlight that urban planning acts on travel energy consumption for commuting and that major cities present low energy consumption. However, a local-scale approach is useful for refining these observations, and this approach highlights the existence of secondary suburban and rural cores that are also characterised by low transport energy consumption. In this respect, the distance from home to a destination is paramount, whereas the mode of transport used has a lower impact. The method is parameterised and reproducible in other territories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-41
Number of pages13
JournalProceedings of Institution of Civil Engineers: Energy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


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