In the United States we have historically thought in terms of high-performance buildings: we set our boundary conditions at the lot line. But buildings only work in a context of networks and grids—transportation, energy, water, social, legal. An individual building represents only one small dial to turn to affect our impact on the environment, whereas a city represents a collection of many and much larger dials. In this session, three planners will look at how three forward-looking municipalities—Stockholm, Sweden and Cambridge MA—are leapfrogging over “high performance buildings” right into “high-performance municipalities” by setting a vision for achieving carbon neutrality within a couple of decades. We’ll look at support provided by national, regional, and local governments; the role of the private sector; and public perception, opposition, and support. We’ll also review the plans each municipality has developed and ask the hard questions about vision versus reality.
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