The Factors Influencing Transport Energy Consumption in Urban Areas: a Review

  • Rocco Papa Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering,(DICEA) University of Naples Federico II
  • Carmela Gargiulo Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering,(DICEA) University of Naples Federico II
  • Gennaro Angiello Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering,(DICEA) University of Naples Federico II
Keywords: Transport energy consumption, Land use, Travel behavior


Transport energy consumption accounts for about one third of total energy consumption in EU. Despite significant advances in transport technology and fuel formulation, transport energy consumption has increased in most EU countries over the last three decades. This increase in consumption occurred as a result of factors such as higher car ownership, a growth in automobile use and an increase in vehicle distances traveled. As travel and land-use are a function of one another, it is often hypothesized that changing urban structure can result in changes in energy consumption. Understanding how different land use characteristics may influence travel behaviour and the corresponding energy consumption is crucial for planners and policy makers in order to develop strategic actions to shrink the environmental footprint of the urban transportation sector. The aim of this article is to review the current literature on the connections between land use, travel behavior and energy consumption. In particular, this paper seeks to identify the determinants of transport energy consumption in urban areas by reviewing evidence from empirical studies. To this aim, nine characteristics of land use are presented and their effects on both travel behaviour and energy use are discussed Our review shown that, in contrast to the focus on the effect of the built environment on travel, only few researchers have empirically investigated the linkage between the built environment and transportation energy use.

The research described in this paper has been developed within the PON04a2_E Smart Energy Master project. It represents part of a much broader research project aimed at the development of an integrated model of urban energy efficiency.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Rocco Papa, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering,(DICEA) University of Naples Federico II

Full Professor of Land Use Planning at the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering of the University of Naples “Federico II”. Editor-in-Chief of the Scientific Journal TeMA - Land Use, Mobility and Environment since 2007. Director of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning DiPiST of University of Naples “Federico II”, from 1999 to 2005. Chairman of the Urban Transformation Company Bagnolifutura S.p.A from 2006 to 2010. Vice-Mayor of the Municipality of Naples, from 2001 to 2006. City Councilor for Livability (appointed to Town Planning and Historical Centre) for the Naples Municipality, from 1997 to 2001. Research activity, carried out continuously since 1974, has developed according to the following four main lines: the study of the interactions between urban and mobility systems; the management and governance of metropolitan areas; the safeguard of environmental quality in highly urbanized areas; the experimentation of new protocols for urban planning tools connected with the updating of techniques, methods and models of analyses, interpretation, planning and governance of territory. As City Councilor for Livability (appointed to Town Planning and Historical Centre) for the Naples Municipality he has developed in detail the following projects: the approval and implementation of the new Master Plan of Naples; the approval and implementation of the Loacl Master Plan for the area of Bagnoli-Coroglio and the establishment of the Urban Transformation Company Bagnolifutura SpA, and the restoration and requalification of the “Real Albergo dei Poveri” and of the “SS. Trinità delle Monache”, the implementation of the Line 1 and Line 6 of the Metropolitan Railway. He is author of more than 100 publications.

Carmela Gargiulo, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering,(DICEA) University of Naples Federico II

Associate professor of Urban Planning Techniques at the University of Naples Federico II. Since 1987, she has been involved in studies on the management of urban and territorial transformations. Since 2004, she has been Member of the Researcher Doctorate in Hydraulic, Transport and Territorial Systems Engineering of the University of Naples “Federico II”. She is Member of the Committee of the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department of the University of Naples “Federico II”. Her research interests focus on the processes of urban requalification, on relationships between urban transformations and mobility, and on the estate exploitation produced by urban transformations. On these subjects she has co-ordinated research teams within National Project such as Progetto Finalizzato Edilizia - Sottoprogetto “Processi e procedure” (Targeted Project on Building – Subproject “Processes and procedures), from 1992 to 1994; Progetto Strategico Aree Metropolitane e Ambiente, (Strategic Project Metropolitan Areas and Environment) from 1994 to 1995; PRIN project on the “Impacts of mobility policies on urban transformability, environment and property market” from 2011 to 2013. Scientific Responsible of the Project Smart Energy Master for the energy management of territory financed by PON 04A2_00120 R&C Axis II, from 2012 to 2015. She is author of more than 90 publications.

Gennaro Angiello, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering,(DICEA) University of Naples Federico II

Engineer, Ph.D. student in Civil Systems Engineering at the Federico II University of Naples. His research interests are in the field of accessibility analysis and modeling, land-use and transport interactions and sustainable mobility. He is currently involved in the research project “Smart Energy Master” and in the COST Action TU1002 “Accessibility Instruments for Planning Practice in Europe”.


Banister, D. (1992). Energy use. Transport and settlement pattern. In: Breheny M.J. (ed) Sustainable development and urban form. Pion, London, pp 160 – 181.

Banister, D. (1998). Sustainable Development and Transport. Report for the Bundesforschungsanstalt für Landeskunde un Raumordnung. The Urban 21 Project.

Bertaud, A., & Malpezzi, S. (2003). The spatial distribution of population in 48 world cities: Implications for economies in transition. Center for Urban Land Economics Research, University of Wisconsin.

Boarnet, M. G., & Sarmiento, S. (1998). Can land-use policy really affect travel behaviour? A study of the link between non-work travel and land-use characteristics. Urban Studies, 35(7), 1155-1169.

Brownstone, D., & Golob, T. F. (2009). The impact of residential density on vehicle usage and energy consumption. Journal of Urban Economics, 65(1), 91-98.

Camagni, R., Gibelli, M. C., & Rigamonti, P. (2002). Urban mobility and urban form: the social and environmental costs of different patterns of urban expansion. Ecological economics, 40(2), 199-216.

Cervero, R., & Murakami, J. (2010). Effects of built environments on vehicle miles traveled: evidence from 370 US urbanized areas. Environment and Planning A, 42(2), 400-418.

Dodson, J., & Sipe, N. (2008). Shocking the suburbs: urban location, homeownership and oil vulnerability in the Australian city. Housing Studies, 23(3), 377-401.

Echenique, M. H., Hargreaves, A. J., Mitchell, G., & Namdeo, A. (2012). Growing cities sustainably: does urban form really matter?. Journal of the American Planning Association, 78(2), 121-137.

European Commission, 2003. European energy and transport – Trends to 2030. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

European Commission, 2007. Sustainable urban transport plans - Preparatory Document in relation to the follow-up of the Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment (Technical report No. 2007/018). European Commission, Luxembourg.

European Commission, 2012. EU transport in figures. Statistical pocketbook 2012. Available at:

Eurostat, 2012. Final energy consumption by sector. Available at:

Ewing, R., & Cervero, R. (2010). Travel and the built environment. A meta-analysis. Journal of the American Planning Association, 76(3), 265-294.

Ewing, R., Greenwald, M. J., Zhang, M., Walters, J., Feldman, M., Cervero, R., & Thomas, J. (2009). Measuring the impact of urban form and transit access on mixed use site trip generation gates – Portland pilot study. US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

Fulton, L. M., Noland, R. B., Meszler, D. J., & Thomas, J. V. (2000). A statistical analysis of induced travel effects in the US mid-Atlantic region. Journal of Transportation and Statistics, 3(1), 1-14.

Gakenheimer, R. (1999). Urban mobility in the developing world. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 33(7), 671-689.

Geurs, K. T., & VAn Wee, B. (2004). Accessibility evaluation of land-use and transport strategies: review and research directions. Journal of Transport geography, 12(2), 127-140.

Giuliano, G., & Narayan, D. (2003). Another look at travel patterns and urban form: the US and Great Britain. Urban studies, 40(11), 2295-2312.

Giuliano, G., & Small, K. A. (1993). Is the journey to work explained by urban structure?. Urban studies, 30(9), 1485-1500.

Handy, S., Cao, X., & Mokhtarian, P. (2005). Correlation or causality between the built environment and travel behavior? Evidence from Northern California. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 10(6), 427-444.

Hansen, W. G. (1959). How accessibility shapes land use. Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 25(2), 73-76.

Karathodorou, N., Graham, D. J., & Noland, R. B. (2010). Estimating the effect of urban density on fuel demand. Energy Economics, 32(1), 86-92.

Kenworthy, J.R., Laube, F.B., 2001. Millennium Cities Database for Sustainable Transport. International Union (Association) for Public Transport (UITP), Brussels and Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy (ISTP), Perth, CD-ROM database

Khattak, A. J., & Rodriguez, D. (2005). Travel behavior in neo-traditional neighborhood developments: A case study in USA. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 39(6), 481-500.

Krizek, K. J. (2003). Residential relocation and changes in urban travel: Does neighborhood-scale urban form matter? Journal of the American Planning Association, 69, 265-281.

Kuzmyak R.J., Pratt R.H., Douglas G.B., Spielberg F. (2003) Land use and site design: Traveler response to transport system changes. Chapter 15, Transit Cooperative Research Program Report 95, Transportation Research Board.

Larco, N., Stockard, J., Johnson, B., & West, A. (2010). Yes, they do walk in suburbia: Suburban multifamily housing and trips to strips. The Housing Education and Research Association, 184.

Levinson, D. M. (1998). Accessibility and the journey to work. Journal of Transport Geography, 6(1), 11-21.

Li, S. M. (2010). Evolving residential and employment locations and patterns of commuting under hyper growth: the case of Guangzhou, China. Urban Studies, 47(8), 1643-1661.

Liu, C., & Shen, Q. (2011). An empirical analysis of the influence of urban form on household travel and energy consumption. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 35(5), 347-357.

Mindali, O., Raveh, A., & Salomon, I. (2004). Urban density and energy consumption: a new look at old statistics. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 38(2), 143-162.

Moniruzzaman, M., & Páez, A. (2012). Accessibility to transit, by transit, and mode share: application of a logistic model with spatial filters. Journal of Transport Geography, 24, 198-205.

Muñiz, I., & Galindo, A. (2005). Urban form and the ecological footprint of commuting. The case of Barcelona. Ecological Economics, 55(4), 499-514.

Murray, A. T. (2003). A coverage model for improving public transit system accessibility and expanding access. Annals of Operations Research, 123(1-4), 143-156.

Naess, P. (2010). Residential location, travel, and energy use in the Hangzhou Metropolitan Area. Journal of transport and land use, 3(3).

Næss, P., Sandberg, S. V. L., & Roe, P. G. (1996). Energy use for transportation in 22 Nordic towns. Scandinavian Housing and Planning Research, 13(2), 79-97.

Newman, P. W., & Kenworthy, J. R. (1989). Cities and automobile dependence: An international sourcebook. Gower, Aldershot Hants UK.

Noland, R. B., & Cowart, W. A. (2000). Analysis of metropolitan highway capacity and the growth in vehicle miles of travel. Transportation, 27(4), 363-390.

Owen, A., & Levinson, D. (2013). Modeling the commute mode share of transit using continuous accessibility to jobs. Report No. 000115.

Owen N, Humpel N, Leslie E, Bauman A, Sallis JF. (2004). Understanding environmental influences on walking; Review and research agenda. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2004; 27:67–76.

Saunders, M. J., Kuhnimhof, T., Chlond, B., & da Silva, A. N. R. (2008). Incorporating transport energy into urban planning. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 42(6), 874-882.

Shen, Q. (2000). Spatial and social dimensions of commuting. Journal of the American Planning Association, 66, 68-82.

Shim, G. E., Rhee, S. M., Ahn, K. H., & Chung, S. B. (2006). The relationship between the characteristics of transportation energy consumption and urban form. The Annals of Regional Science, 40(2), 351-367.

Stead, D. (2001). Relationships between land use, socioeconomic factors, and travel patterns in Britain. Environment and planning B, 28(4), 499-528.

Su, Q. (2011). The effect of population density, road network density, and congestion on household gasoline consumption in US urban areas. Energy Economics, 33(3), 445-452.

Wang, X., Khattak, A., & Zhang, Y. (2013). Is smart growth associated with reductions in carbon dioxide emissions?. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2375(1), 62-70.

Wei, Y. M., Liu, L. C., Fan, Y., & Wu, G. (2007). The impact of lifestyle on energy use and CO2 emission: An empirical analysis of China's residents. Energy policy, 35(1), 247-257.

How to Cite
Papa, R., Gargiulo, C., & Angiello, G. (2014). The Factors Influencing Transport Energy Consumption in Urban Areas: a Review. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment.