Many land use decisions have a direct effect on the energy we consume. For example, high-density uses along major streets improve the efficiency of public transportation systems, make it easier to walk or bike to a variety of locations, and thereby reduce gasoline consumption. Goal 13 requires local governments to consider the effects of its comprehensive planning decision on energy consumption.

Goal 13 encourages communities to look within existing urban neighborhoods for areas of potential redevelopment before looking to expand, to "recycle and re-use vacant land." The goal also directs cities and counties to have systems and incentives in place for recycling programs.

At the time the goal was enacted, Oregonians were particularly concerned by development of new homes that blocked neighbors' sunlight, which can have impacts on passive heating and availability of natural light. These concerns are expressed in the goal language.

Today, concerns about renewable energy sources are seen through a different lens. Innovation in the areas of solar and wind energy have made them increasingly popular in Oregon. Concern about climate change has resulted in an increase in public and private interest in and development of alternative energy sources. Goal 13 was not written to govern or direct the production of energy, but its conservation.