The Importance of Climate Policy in Cities with Laurie Kerr

As we enter a new era of climate policy, we wanted to evaluate some of the efforts major cities have made along the way. How do cities compare? What improvements have they made? And where should cities start with regards to climate action?

To help us answer these questions, we called upon Laurie Kerr, a climate policy veteran who helped shape the sustainability plan of one of the most notable cities in the world with regards to climate change and climate action – New York City. Laurie discusses which programs were successful (and which were not) during her time with the Bloomberg administration, and compares these initiatives to those of different cities around the US.

Episode Guest: Laurie Kerr

Laurie Kerr head shot

As Deputy Director for Green Building Policy at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability under Michael Bloomberg, Kerr helped develop PlaNYC, New York’s influential sustainability plan, and spearheaded the development of New York’s innovative green building and energy efficiency policies. These included the first comprehensive policies by any jurisdiction to address energy efficiency in existing buildings, the greening of New York’s codes and regulations, a clause that solves the splint incentive problem in commercial leases, and programs by city government and leading sectors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% in ten years — which currently impact over half a billion square feet of space. Subsequently, Kerr conceived and launched the City Energy Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is assisting ten major American cities – from Los Angeles to Chicago, Houston and Atlanta – in developing large-scale efficiency policies similar to New York. She is now the President of LK POLICY LAB and the Director of Policy at Urban Green Council.

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Buildings and Beyond is a production of Steven Winter Associates. We provide energy, green building, and accessibility consulting services to improve the built environment. For more information, visit


Robb Aldrich | Kelly Westby

Production Team

Heather Breslin | Alex Mirabile | Dylan Martello

Next up on Buildings and Beyond…

Healthy & Sustainable Materials with Charley Stevenson

Guest: Charley Stevenson

Charley Stevenson Headshot