Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), Washington DC


Renaissance is part of a research team that is assisting the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) in identifying and evaluating strategies for achieving greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals for the Washington DC region. These goals call for reducing GHGs by 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. The project is somewhat unique in seeking solutions through the coordinated efforts of the key contributing sectors – transportation, land use, energy and the built environment.

Renaissance is the designated lead for identifying solutions for the land use sector, which has a strong connection with the transportation sector in shaping travel demand, vehicle use and vehicle emissions. The chief strategy has involved redistribution of future growth toward a better balance across the region, and moving a greater share of future households and jobs into activity centers served by premium transit. Renaissance developed a new methodology for this assessment, featuring the use of modal accessibility scores to create models of household vehicle ownership and vehicle miles of travel (VMT). 

Renaissance found that, when teamed with complementary transportation strategies - such as pricing and transit improvements - the two sectors were able to effect a 27% reduction in regional VMT by 2050. In addition, moving future growth into more compact transit districts and neighborhoods resulted in savings in residential and commercial energy use, and in preservation of the carbon sequestration benefits provided by the regional tree canopy and natural land cover spared from new development.

The research team has worked closely with MWCOG staff and the key policy and planning committees in defining the strategies, adopting the evaluation methodologies, reviewing and interpreting findings. Renaissance will assemble the top strategies into synergistic packages, along with estimates of co-benefits, costs, and implementation recommendations.