City and Regional Planning

Towards a Low Carbon Philadelphia

Spring 2014 Studio

The nine-county metropolitan area for which the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) plans, is regarded as an economic and cultural hub in the Mid-Atlantic region.  It ranks consistently within the top ten largest American metropolitan areas for population, employment, personal income and retail sales.  This collection of counties is less well-known as a major producer of the greenhouse gases; however, the DVRPC determined in 2010 that the nine counties in total produced 81.6 million tons of CO2 equivalent gases, which is approximately 1.2% of the United States' total emissions, or about the same quantity as the entire countries of Portugal and Austria.

At the behest of the DVRPC, the PennPlanning Climate Change studio is developed recommendations for actions that the Metropolitan Planning Organization can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.  This goal sets the DVRPC on track to to meet its longer-term goals for greenhouse gas reduction.  DVRPC staff requested that the studio focus on recommendations pertaining to compact development, energy-efficient buildings, and renewable fuels in power generation and transportation, categories that address the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the region.

The studio prepared an initial set of best practices and case studies for greenhouse gas mitigation that could be applied to Greater Philadelphia.  To form a baseline body of research, the studio focused on current efforts in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and other Mid-Atlantic states, as well as on the cutting edge work of California and Oregon.

After sharing its findings with the DVRPC, the studio selected the strategies that yield the most promising outcomes and that are technically and politically feasible.