When the Portuguese ruled what is now Malaysian Malacca in the 1500s, they imposed a tax that is calculated on the basis of a building' s width. Consequently many houses were built narrow and deep, with high ceilings, so as to minimise on taxes. (See this link.)

The British government in the 1690s imposed a window tax, which led to buildings being modified to reduce the number of windows. (See this link.)

Now, the US government is requiring US car makers to produce fuel-efficient vehicles in return for financial assistance. Perhaps we can hope that despite America’s obsession with fuel-guzzling monster cars, this move will spearhead a lasting change.