City and Regional Planning

Designing a Green New Deal

Fall 2019 Studio

On February 7, 2019, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey (MA-07) and New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) introduced a House Resolution detailing a sweeping plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030 and achieve a goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. Commonly referred to as a Green New Deal, the 14-page non-binding resolution lays out the goals and aspirations of the program, upgrading efficiency and sustainability for national infrastructure and creating millions of jobs in the process.

A Green New Deal will be understood by most people not through the policies that come from the resolution, but rather through the infrastructure, buildings, public works, and landscapes it inspires. However, the resolution as it stands offers little insight into how transformative such an ambitious program would be in communities, the built environment, and in how and where we all live. Buildings will need to be retrofitted, the agricultural sector’s processes and land use policies will need to be overhauled, the current configuration transportation systems reimagined, brownfield sites remediated, and so much more. The resolution itself is best understood more as a request for proposals of how this mobilization to decarbonize equitably might play out. To actualize the policies of a Green New Deal, designers will need to play a central role in the large-scale implementation of a national plan.

The Designing a Green New Deal studio, a cohort of landscape architecture and city planning students, analyzed new deal era and global precedents, researched focus sectors nationally (energy, transportation, housing, food + agriculture, and land + water), and prioritized regional propositions for Appalachia, the Midwest, and the Delta as catalysts for investment and implementation. This report highlights these propositions and processes.




Billy Fleming, Doctoral Candidate