Photo: Michael Kappel via Flickr Creative Commons

As cities face new environmental and economic realities, they need innovative ways to stay strong in the face of climate change. Our work offers tangible, measurable actions that can help make cities healthy, resilient, and prosperous.

Our work helps cities become resilient in the face of climate change. As weather patterns become more volatile and natural resources become increasingly scarce, it is important to have innovative but achievable systems in place to help cities, businesses, and individuals adapt.

From flood-proofing homes to promoting lower-carbon transit options to making freight movement greener, our work provides tangible climate strategies that save people money. Solutions like these also offer promising business opportunities that can help grow local economies while shrinking the impact of climate change.

Our unique approach to climate change action includes place-based quantification of emissions sources and the benefits of reductions to help communities target their efforts.

One way we help cities and neighborhoods maximize the impact of climate innovations is through the EcoDistrict framework. EcoDistricts link energy, transportation, water, and land use in an integrated, efficient, and equitable resource system at the district scale.

What does this  mean for you? CNT’s work has found that:

  • City residents emit fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs) per capita than residents of sprawling, auto-oriented places, making compact development a valuable strategy for lowering carbon emissions.
  • The effects of climate change are already starting to increase rainfall in many parts of the country. Low-cost solutions like RainReady℠ Home help people prepare for volatile weather.
  • Promoting cargo-oriented development and increasing the amount of freight shipped by rail helps reduce the number of semis on the road, cutting air pollution and reducing GHGs.
  • People can save money by making smart transportation and energy choices, and our Equity Express program teaches them how.
  • District-scale solutions like EcoDistricts make infrastructure better able to withstand disasters and disruptions.

“The strength of the Chicago Climate Action Plan is that it is grounded in disciplined research and analysis. CNT played a lead role in managing the research process, including conducting the greenhouse gas baseline assessment. The plan would not have been possible without their partnership.”

Sadhu Johnston
Deputy City Manager of Vancouver + former Chief Environmental Officer of Chicago

Research + Further Reading

Income, Location Efficiency, and VMT: Affordable Housing as a Climate Strategy

Gregory L. Newmark Ph.D and Peter M. Haas Ph.D
December 16, 2015

This paper combines detailed travel-survey, transit-service, and land-use data to estimate a model for predicting the role of income and location efficiency in reducing household vehicle-miles traveled (VMT). The research then applies this model to census data collected in the most transit-rich areas of California. The research finds strong justification for California’s current support of location-efficient affordable housing as a strategy to reduce VMT and mitigate climate change.

This working paper was first posted in July 2015. The California Strategic Growth Council commissioned an academic review of the paper in order to consider its use in funding formulas for the allocation of cap and trade funds for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program. The working paper was revised in response to review comments and reposted on December 16, 2015.


Transforming and Embracing Innovation in Ohio’s 9th Congressional District: Moving towards Sustainable, Efficient and Reliable Energy

December 1, 2011

Northern Ohio has enough wind, solar and biogas potential to meet all of its electricity needs, but only a small fraction of the region's energy comes from these sources. In spite of its vast untapped renewable resources, production of renewable energy in the 9th Congressional District is not economically viable without supportive state and federal policies and incentives. This paper lays the conceptual and analytical foundation for a new energy economy in Northern Ohio.


Tree Asset Management in Portland, Oregon

by CNT
June 28, 2011

This study shows that Portland is well-positioned to pilot a tree asset management program that would lay the groundwork for turning its tree canopy into a bondable asset, similar to bridges and roads. The study identified six steps through which Portland and other cities can create a tree asset management program. The study also provides several case studies of other cities that are attempting to turn their trees into assets.


Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Chicago: Emissions Inventories and Reduction Strategies for Chicago and its Metropolitan Region

February 1, 2010

A greenhouse gas emissions inventory was conducted for Chicago and its metropolitanregion for the years 2000 and 2005. Emissions ofcarbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride totaled 34.7 millionmetric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMTCO2e) in Chicago in 2000 with 91 percent of emissions attributable to the indirect emissions associated with electricity consumption, the direct emissions of natural gas use, and the direct emissions of the transportation sector. A portfolio of 33 potential emissions reduction strategies was analyzed that, implemented together, could meet Chicago’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The largest potential for reduction is found in the areas with the largest emissions—energy use in buildings and transport. Compared to its metropolitan region, Chicago is found to have existing transportation efficiencies on a per household basis that can be an example for other communities.


Chicago’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions: An Inventory, Forecast and Mitigation Analysis for Chicago and the Metropolitan Region

by CNT
September 18, 2008

This research was part of a broader effort by the City of Chicago to determine the local ramifications of climate change, for its citizens and for City operations. In addition to CNT’s work on emissions and mitigation strategies, the City engaged researchers to examine climate-change adaptation, economic impacts, and the effects of climate change on City departments.