Energy Efficient Communities (IEA-EBC Annex 51) suggested that successful urban energy planning is only possible, if energy planning is integrated in the entire urban planning process. However, research in both Annex 51 and Annex 63 has found that in many countries consideration of energy issues is missing in urban planning processes. This is of great concern, since, with the growing challenge of climate change, municipalities and energy utilities are charged with implementing both measures that adapt to the present conditions and measures that mitigate against future impacts. Both parties, municipalities and energy utilities, must coordinate their actions and both need a comprehensive set of tools and strategies to manage their resources so as to minimise the generation of greenhouse gases.
The linkage between urban form, energy use and climate change has been recognised for many years yet there still remain significant barriers separating the goals of urban planning and those of efficient energy delivery. In current practices energy related issues are still isolated from virtually all other municipal services; building codes for example often limit their scope to building safety and ignore the impact of energy consumption. By integrating strategies about optimizing supply, delivery and consumption of energy with (municipal or utility) planning protocols both municipalities and utilities can deliver to their constituents a powerful set of strategies with which to address climate change.
A natural connection should exist between urban development and energy development. Historically, the separation of each field’s priorities and practices has created an energy efficiency challenge that requires a new and improved set of planning tools and strategies.