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Rigorous classification and carbon accounting principles for low and Zero Carbon Cities


  • Kennedy, Scott
  • Sgouridis, Sgouris


A large number of communities, new developments, and regions aim to lower their carbon footprint and aspire to become "zero carbon" or "Carbon Neutral." Yet there are neither clear definitions for the scope of emissions that such a label would address on an urban scale, nor is there a process for qualifying the carbon reduction claims. This paper addresses the question of how to define a zero carbon, Low Carbon, or Carbon Neutral urban development by proposing hierarchical emissions categories with three levels: Internal Emissions based on the geographical boundary, external emissions directly caused by core municipal activities, and internal or external emissions due to non-core activities. Each level implies a different carbon management strategy (eliminating, balancing, and minimizing, respectively) needed to meet a Net Zero Carbon designation. The trade-offs, implications, and difficulties of implementing carbon debt accounting based upon these definitions are further analyzed.

Suggested Citation

  • Kennedy, Scott & Sgouridis, Sgouris, 2011. "Rigorous classification and carbon accounting principles for low and Zero Carbon Cities," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 5259-5268, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:9:p:5259-5268

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Sgouridis, Sgouris & Kennedy, Scott, 2010. "Tangible and fungible energy: Hybrid energy market and currency system for total energy management. A Masdar City case study," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 1749-1758, April.
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    2. Federico Caprotti & Cecilia Springer & Nichola Harmer, 2015. "‘Eco’ For Whom? Envisioning Eco-urbanism in the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city, China," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(3), pages 495-517, May.
    3. Wang, Hongsheng & Lei, Yue & Wang, Haikun & Liu, Miaomiao & Yang, Jie & Bi, Jun, 2013. "Carbon reduction potentials of China's industrial parks: A case study of Suzhou Industry Park," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 668-675.
    4. Christoforidis, Georgios C. & Chatzisavvas, Konstantinos Ch. & Lazarou, Stavros & Parisses, Costantinos, 2013. "Covenant of Mayors initiative—Public perception issues and barriers in Greece," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 643-655.
    5. Iveroth, Sofie Pandis & Johansson, Stefan & Brandt, Nils, 2013. "The potential of the infrastructural system of Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm, Sweden," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 716-726.
    6. Qing Yang & Xingzi Wan & Huimin Ma, 2015. "Assessing Green Development Efficiency of Municipalities and Provinces in China Integrating Models of Super-Efficiency DEA and Malmquist Index," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(4), pages 1-19, April.
    7. Asdrubali, F. & Presciutti, A. & Scrucca, F., 2013. "Development of a greenhouse gas accounting GIS-based tool to support local policy making—application to an Italian municipality," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 587-594.
    8. Marinakis, Vangelis & Doukas, Haris & Karakosta, Charikleia & Psarras, John, 2013. "An integrated system for buildings’ energy-efficient automation: Application in the tertiary sector," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 6-14.
    9. Kelly, S. & Pollitt, M. & Crawford-Brown, D., 2012. "Building performance evaluation and certification in the UK: a critical review of SAP?," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1238, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    10. Pasimeni, Maria Rita & Petrosillo, Irene & Aretano, Roberta & Semeraro, Teodoro & De Marco, Antonella & Zaccarelli, Nicola & Zurlini, Giovanni, 2014. "Scales, strategies and actions for effective energy planning: A review," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 165-174.
    11. Kelly, Scott & Crawford-Brown, Doug & Pollitt, Michael G., 2012. "Building performance evaluation and certification in the UK: Is SAP fit for purpose?," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(9), pages 6861-6878.


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