Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

John Ungerleder


The world is in a period of rapid urbanization while experiencing unprecedented rise in global temperature as a result of climate change. Questions have been raised as to how strategies for urbanization will be able to address the fetish for energy, while halting carbon emissions produced by traditional energy sources for urban inhabitants around the world. First, this paper seeks to look to cities, at the intersection of solar energy and the field of urban planning, looking into the opportunities and challenges that are currently surfacing. Conflicts and barriers in traditional urban land use patterns emerge as a topic of discussion alongside urban morphologies and constraints posed towards a broad-reaching application of solar energy in dense cities, both domestically in the United States, and by way of international case studies. Conflicts in land use practice along with community level net zero benchmarking are discussed as well to better understand tools for progress in urban planning addressing climate change mitigation. Additionally, local action and the impacts of Green Communities Legislation are investigated alongside the need for Federal action such as bold renewable energy portfolio standards as macro policy solutions. Lastly, the conflict between the traditional role for utilities and the emergence of distributed generation technologies and subsequent policy support including the potential impact of micro grids, are included in an analysis of the energy production and delivery system for the urban environment at present. Within this paper, two in-person qualitative interviews are included to bring perspectives from active professionals and policymakers into the research. New thinking and conclusions illustrate the need for specific policy action across local, state, and federal spheres, and the need for urban planners and urban practitioners to act with intention and rapidity relating to the climate imperative.


Architectural Engineering | Civil Engineering | Energy Policy | Environmental Design | Environmental Policy | Growth and Development | Peace and Conflict Studies | Political Economy | Public Policy | Regional Economics | Spatial Science | Urban, Community and Regional Planning | Urban Studies


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