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The main purpose of this thesis is to study how to establish low carbon, attractive cities for human beings. This paper attempts to contribute to sustainable development by encouraging the development of low-carbon cities through local land use decisions. The study proposes to answer the following two research questions: 1) how well do the fastest growing cities in the U.S. implement low-carbon principles in their local comprehensive land use plans?, and 2) how can local land use plans be improved to achieve the goal of low-carbon cities? Through evaluating the local land use comprehensive plans of the top fifty fastest growing population cities in the U.S., findings for improving low carbon cities planning are identified. Results show that while these cities have been able to establish effective planning frameworks, they have failed to incorporate low-carbon city principles into their planning frameworks. Cities can improve their local plan quality by enhancing the factual basis of the plans, adopting more specific goals and policies, and expanding the planners’ toolbox to achieve low-carbon city planning.
Advisor: Zhenghong Tang