The Process Behind PlaNYC: How the City of New York Developed its Comprehensive Long-Term Sustainability Plan

From Open Energy Information


This publication provides an overview of the process New York City undertook to develop its PlaNYC, a city-wide sustainability plan that includes 127 initiatives and 10 goals. In addition to energy consumption and climate change, PlaNYC also addresses land use, transportation, and other elements. The Process Behind PlaNYC describes the genesis of the city's sustainability plan in the context of the city's other goals, plans, and challenges (e.g., population growth). The report also describes the formation of the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability and its Advisory Board, and the role those entities, along with academic institutions, consultants, and other city agencies, played in developing and implementing PlaNYC. Detail is included on how the city developed its greenhouse gas emission targets and overarching sustainability goals, as well as the process for publicizing and soliciting feedback on these objectives. Throughout, the document describes how PlaNYC was developed with rapid implementation in mind. Several initiatives have already been implemented. By local law, PlaNYC is updated every four years, and progress is reported annually. Updates and other documentation are available on the PlaNYC website .

Community Information
Name New York City, New York
Type City
Community Energy Goals PlaNYC includes 10 goals with a target date of 2032 (25 year's from the plan's release): *Create homes for almost 1 million more New Yorkers, and make housing more affordable *Maintain or improve travel times across New York City *Ensure that every New Yorker lives within a 10 minute walk of a park *Increase investment in critical back-up systems for the city's water network *Reach a true "state of good repair" on New York's roads, subways, and rails *Upgrade energy infrastructure to give every New Yorker cleaner, more reliable power *Achieve the cleanest air of any big city in America *Clean up more than 1,700 acres of contaminated land and return it to surrounding communities *Preserve existing wetlands and open 90% of remaining polluted waterways for fishing and boating *Reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 (relative to 2005 levels), and decrease municipal government emissions by 30% by 2017 (relative to 2006 levels).
Baseline Citywide 2005 baseline: 56,632,297 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent. Municipal government 2006 baseline: 3,570,021 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent. Reference:
Results to Date Since the release of PlaNYC in 2007, some of the City of New York's energy-related accomplishments include: *Approved 19 rezonings focusing development in areas that are served by public transit. *Installed 200 miles of bicycle lanes and enacted bike access laws. *Transformed key areas (Times Square, Madison Square, Herald Square) into pedestrian friendly plazas. *Completed 86 energy efficiency projects. *Converted 25% of the yellow taxi fleet to hybrid vehicles. *Decreased citywide carbon emissions by 12.9% relative to 2005 levels, and decreased municipal government carbon emissions by 1.1% relative to 2006 levels (


This case study was written explicitly to document and share the process and best practices New York City undertook to develop and begin implementing its citywide sustainability plan. The key steps and stakeholders are clearly described, yielding a document that may help other cities replicate components of New York City's process. The study concisely summarizes the top ten key factors that contributed to New York City's success in developing PlaNYC and includes a timeline of the major efforts the City undertook to develop PlaNYC. The document contains numerous helpful figures and templates, including a best practices template (documenting description, existing case studies, required resources, challenges, and parallel efforts related to each sustainability initiative); a process diagram for analyzing options; and a template for the analysis of initiatives (including how the initiative relates to other goals and programs, major implementation needs and steps, costs and ROI, key metrics, and best practices).

Environmental Aspects

New York City is required by law to measure progress towards the ten major goals developed in PlaNYC. These indicators, along with the City's performance (updated monthly), are captured in the Citywide Performance Report .

Related Tools

None given.


  1.  "The Process Behind PlaNYC: How the City of New York Developed its Comprehensive Long-Term Sustainability Plan"