Climate Action and Transferable Development Rights

Zoning Practice — December 2020

By Richard Pruetz, FAICP


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Communities across the United States are using transferable development rights (TDR) to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by controlling energy-wasting sprawl, preserving resources needed for carbon sequestration, and conserving the carbon already embedded within historic landmarks. Others use TDR for climate change adaptation by protecting natural areas, safeguarding water supplies, and redirecting growth from places that are increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic events such as wildfires and sea level rise.

This edition of Zoning Practice makes the case for why communities should consider adding TDR to their climate action toolbox and explores 10 TDR programs in municipalities across the United States that have used TDR for both mitigating their greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change.


Page Count
Date Published
Dec. 1, 2020
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Richard Pruetz, FAICP
Rick Pruetz, FAICP, is a planning consultant specializing in the implementation of community goals using TDR. He has prepared or assisted with the preparation of TDR studies and ordinances for over 30 communities. He has written three books on TDR and was one of three coauthors of The TDR Handbook: Designing and Implementing Transfer of Development Rights Programs (Island Press 2012). He also wrote Lasting Value: Open Space Planning and Preservation Successes (APA 2012). Pruetz maintains the website, which features profiles of over 300 TDR programs. He has a Master of Urban Planning degree and 41 years of planning experience including 14 years as the city planner of Burbank, California.