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Place Initiative emerges to address role of urbanism in climate change

The Congress for the New Urbanism is an organization that, over the past 30 years, has coalesced the brightest minds in urban planning and design. There is a history of urban problem-solving that moves beyond conventional thinking. As we collectively move deeper into the climate crisis, a group of young leaders has emerged from within CNU and formed a new organization to specifically address how urban policy, design, and technologies can mitigate climate change. This new organization is called PLACE Initiative, which stands for Proactive Leadership Advocating for Climate & Equity.

Americans already reshape places daily; each year, we spend $3.5 trillion on real estate and construction. These industries cement into place a built environment that lasts centuries. Every year, we thus make investment decisions that either can further entrench an unsustainable status quo or pave the way towards a more sustainable future.

All of that investment can be leveraged to rebuild our communities around the principles of urbanism, and quickly achieve emission reduction goals – but this isn’t the only reason we should pursue urbanism as a force for change.

In military science, a force multiplier refers to a factor or combination of factors that give the ability to accomplish greater feats than without it. Urbanism is a force multiplier for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt our communities to strengthen their resiliency against the worst impacts of climate change, such as the risks of wildfire and storm surge combined with sea level rise. The solutions we are proposing can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, transportation, materials, and waste by 90% by 2050.

PLACE Initiative was created to help develop and advocate for these solutions. They are telling the story of how electric cars and renewable energy alone will not be sufficient to hit our 2050 climate goals. We need good urbanism to play a critical role to reduce the demand for energy from buildings and transportation. Better places can allow us to meet our emissions reduction goals and strengthen the resiliency of our communities, all as part of a multifaceted package of solutions to climate change.

Through the help of planners, policymakers, NGO leaders, and community stakeholders we have put together a network of resources and people who have proven how great urbanism can provide far-lasting, systemic improvements in response to the climate crisis. We are an important part of the solution needed to build a just future.

If you’re interested in contributing or learning more, please visit our website: or subscribe here.

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