Dec 20, 2022 - News

Mapped: The carbon footprint of Washington neighborhoods

Solar panels on a D.C. house roof

Solar panels on a D.C. home. Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

D.C.'s denser, more transit-friendly neighborhoods such as Navy Yard tend to have lower carbon emissions than largely single-family neighborhoods like Palisades, according to new research.

Why it matters: The data shows that planet-warming emissions can be reduced by both leadership decisions — such as building more housing near public transportation — and personal lifestyle choices like driving an electric car or cutting down on air travel.

What they did: With help from consulting firm EcoDataLab, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley measured household CO2 emissions by analyzing transportation, housing, foods, goods — like furniture and appliances — and services — like education and health care.

Map: The New York Times. Used by kind permission

Zoom in: In Northern Virginia, carbon emissions in the low-density, affluent Great Falls area are much higher than the national average across all five categories.

  • In contrast, urban parts of Arlington along Metro corridors have emissions equal to or below the national average.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. It exceeded its 20% reduction goal in 2020.

  • Further progress will require more solar power and net-zero energy buildings, and increased opportunities for transit, teleworking, walking, and bicycling, according to the group.

🧠 Be smart: Wealth also correlates with higher emissions. Solar panels, more energy-efficient home goods, and greener forms of transportation can all lower an area's carbon footprint.

Go deeper: Zoom in on the map to find your neighborhood.


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