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Fewer materials and preference for low-carbon goods will reduce the energy requirements of low-carbon cities



The industrial sector emits 21% of the carbon emissions of the United States.   The industrial sector produces the goods and raw materials that will be needed in the construction and operation of a low carbon city.  A low-carbon city will use fewer materials for its construction and will have a preference in the purchasing of low-carbon products.

This Industrial Sector plan for a low-carbon compact city will have the following goals.

  • Reduced use of materials, especially for transportation infrastructure
  • Quantification of carbon cost of materials before purchase
  • Preference for low-carbon and recycled materials
  • Use of latest low-carbon concrete where possible
  • Use local resources and suppliers where possible  to reduce transportation emissions
  • Encourage vendors to improve their energy efficiency and switch to lower emission fuels

What actions do you propose?

Reduced GHG emissions are expected from the Industrial Sector as part of the construction and operation of low-carbon cities.   These emission savings are not calulated at this time.

The key challenge of this plan is to form an organization capable of siting, financing and performing the minimum pre-construction planning necessary to break ground on a new low-carbon city.  The related United States Regional Plan for building low-carbon cities provides the means of forming this organization along with other challenges.

Building low-carbon cities is just the continuing evolution of city design and planning trends, nothing radical or experimental.  Similar to construction of a major airport, building these new cities is surprisingly modest in scope.  Preferred sites include larger brownfields or struggling small towns. By being built from the ground up over decades, and populated by those only seeking to improve their quality-of-life, they will not cause economic disruption or social dislocation to existing American cities or industries, minimizing political objections.  

Who will take these actions?

Industry sector corporations, academics, and professionals to reduce the carbon impact from the goods and materials to be purchased from the industrial sector along with the organizations and contractors needed to actually site, finance, plan and build new cities.  As explained in the United States Regional Climate Action proposal for building low-carbon cities from the ground-up, new cities can be started today without waiting for public acceptance, taxpayer subsidies or excessive developer profit. 

Where will these actions be taken?

This proposal does not attempt to tell industry professionals how to reduce their carbon emissions. This proposal assumes that goods and materials will be quantified for their carbon emissions prior to purchase. 

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

What are other key benefits?

Environmental Benefits:  Reduced need for fossil-fueled energy sources with use of low-carbon and recycled materials for the lower material requirements of a low-carbon city.

Social Benefits:  The benefits of lower GHG emissions.

Economic Benefits:   Reduced cost of fewer materials needed to construct a low-carbon city.

What are the proposal’s costs?

A low-carbon city will require fewer goods and materials reducing the cost to construct and operate. 

Time line

This plan to build new cities will take a generation, or more.    By increasing each new city’s population by 25,000 annually, it will take a city 10 years to obtain a population of 250,000, 20 years for 500,000 and 40 years for 1,000,000 inhabitants.   This plan is most likely to be executed over the project’s lifetime by those currently in their early 20s who will most likely be most impacted by the disruptions from climate change. 

Related proposals

There does not seem to be any publically known project to build a larger low-carbon compact city from the ground-up in the United States.   Most larger-scale projects are traditional development requiring cars for transportation, or eco-village transportation hub projects as bedroom communities to larger cities with high-density multi-family buildings, mixed-use limited to higher-rent corporate chains, and an absolute minimum of greenspace, parks, large public spaces, schools, or the desired walkable amenities of a larger city or resort community.