Date of Award


Degree Type

Creative Project

Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Committee Chair(s)

Carlos V. Lincon


Carlos V. Lincon


Keith M. Christensen


Edwin R. Stafford


As the world's population rises and becomes increasingly more urbanized, there is a greater demand on our resources. Current energy production practices are based on resources with finite supplies and are associated with environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas and particulate emissions, water resource use, and resource extraction. In contrast, renewable energy production is based on free, continually replenished sources with relatively few environmental impacts. Distributed renewable energy generation involves producing energy close to the point of consumption. The distributed generation model increases energy autonomy at the local level.

Distributed renewable energy generation is fairly common at point of use. However, it is not common at the community scale, at least here in the U.S. Communities that wish to pursue local energy generation as a strategy to increase energy autonomy may not be aware of what resources they have at hand either in the form of renewable energy sources or in terms of available land for energy production, nor an understanding of how much of their energy consumption could be met by locally produced energy.

This study explores the potential for local solar and wind energy generation on publicly owned land in Cedar City, Utah. The available public land was analyzed at two scales: within the municipal boundary and within 8 kilometers of the town boundary. Six scenarios were developed to represent different amounts of land given over to energy production in an attempt to meet the targets of 25%, 50%, or 100% of the city's annual energy consumption, and the amount of energy produced by each scenario was calculated. Within town, the opportunities for energy generation were fairly limited, though some strategies, such as installing solar panels at the point of use, would have value. In contrast, by expanding the scope to include an additional eight kilometers around the city, parcels of land were included for energy generation that would make a significant impact on the annual energy consumption of the city.

This study highlights the need for planners and landscape architects at the city level who can take an active role in energy planning by identifying resources, evaluating alternatives, and make strategic decisions on land and resource use.