Climate Positive Development Program


The Climate Positive Development Program is a recognition based effort under C40’s Urban Planning & Development Initiative of the world’s most ambitious low-carbon projects. The Program supports the creation and implementation of large-scale urban communities that reduce greenhouse gasses and serve as models for cities to grow in environmentally sustainability and economically viable ways. Guided by the Climate Positive Framework (also available in Korean and Mandarin), the Program supports the development of projects that seek to meet a “climate positive” emissions target of net-negative operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with energy, waste and transportation. This “climate positive” outcome is achieved by reducing emissions on-site and offsetting emissions by reducing carbon in the neighbouring community. 

The program is currently working with 18 projects across six continents and once completed will impact nearly one million people who live and work in Climate Positive communities.

Through this set of real-world projects that serve as urban laboratories, the Program aims to create replicable models for large-scale urban communities that reduce GHG to the greatest possible extent, manifest the highest standards of sustainability and innovate climate resilient solutions. Working with both the public sector and the private sector, these projects are helping to establish critical collaborations between the two to create a case for holistic planning and development that improves the local environment, creates jobs, and enhances local quality of life.

Climate Positive Projects

Every Climate Positive project has a unique profile, given their distinct economic, political, and climactic challenges, yet each is striving for the ambitious goal of lowering their operations GHG emissions below zero. The Climate Positive Program facilitates knowledge-sharing across the cities and projects to allow for successful strategies to be replicated and pitfalls avoided.

Developing projects of this size is a long process. In order to increase opportunities for best practice sharing and recognition of accomplishments, the Climate Positive Framework lays out a set of reporting requirements and phases, beginning with planning and culminating with the project being complete and certifying that they are net-carbon negative. 



Six projects have advanced and been recognized as successfully achieving the second phase of the Climate Positive:

Barangaroo South, Sydney

A 55 acre development on the western edge of Sydney’s central business district in a former container terminal. When completed, the neighbourhood will include over 500,00m2 of commercial and residential space. Energy efficient design is supported by low carbon and renewable energy. Precinct-wide infrastructure for power, cooling, water and waste management provides greater efficiencies and economic of scale. Read a summary of their strategies here.

Elephant & Castle, London

Regeneration of the Heygate Estate in central London. The neighborhood will deliver nearly 3,000 new homes and a brand new park right in the heart of the city. The project is also seeking to use its scale, location and profile to address pressing local and global challenges around climate change, housing, health, employment and crime. When completed, the project will reduce nearly 7,000 tons of CO2e annually. Read a summary of their strategies here.

Mahindra World City, Jaipur

A 3,000-acre development, which when completed will house and employ over 300,000 people. Through it’s onsite energy efficiency, waste management and transportation strategies, along with investments in solar energy and improvements in transportation infrastructure will have a net effect of reducing over 60,000 tons of CO2e per year. Read a summary of their strategies here, or see the full roadmap here.


Victoria Harbour, Melbourne

Melbourne is transforming its docklands into a mixed-use neighbourhood that aims to be a new civic hub for the city with 25,000 workers and 5,000 residents. Not yet complete, the neighbourhood already the highest concentration of green buildings in Australia. Read about their lessons learned in using district energy strategies here



The Oberlin Project, Oberlin, OH (USA

Aiming to revitalize the local community, eliminate the carbon impact, increase the agricultural base in the city and create a sustainable base for economic and community development. On-site energy will be provided by renewable sources, and in total, the city will preserve 20,000 acres of green space to help meet the food and carbon sequestration needs of the city.


ProjectZero, Sonderborg, Denmark

ProjectZero represents the vision for creating a ZEROcarbon Sonderborg by 2029 based on sustainable growth. The project includes replacing existing carbon based energy by a combination of geothermal, solar heat, photovoltaic, biomass and seawater cooling. The development will create a clean-tech cluster to spur green job growth in the region. 

There are 12 additional projects who are in the process of completing their Climate Positive Roadmap and striving to achieve the 2nd phase recognition. These projects include:


Process for Achieving Climate Positive

Development Partners accepted into the program are expected to pursue the integrated planning of energy efficient buildings, low carbon transportation solutions, and waste and water management systems at the district scale. As part of the process to become Climate Positive, there are four distinct stages of recognition to support the journey in becoming Climate Positive; Candidate, Participant, Progress Site and Climate Positive. Each stage is marked by recognition; click here to see the stages.

In order to go “beyond carbon neutral” and achieve a Climate Positive outcome, Development Partners earn Climate Positive Credits by sequestering emissions on-site and abating emissions from surrounding communities. Examples of Climate Positive Credits include the creation of a park within a development, as well as projects done in the neighbouring community such as investing in LED streetlight upgrades, energy retrofits for existing housing, and connecting neighbouring buildings into a low carbon district heat program. There is not only one way to achieve Climate Positive, and Climate Positive functions as a compliment to other rating tools. By utilizing a non-prescriptive framework and focusing on carbon emissions, cities and developers are utilizing locally relevant and innovative solutions.

At each recognition stage, a committee of technical experts review the plans and strategies to ensure the strategies will achieve a climate positive outcome, and to verify that the carbon emissions performance is on track with the projections detailed in the Roadmap. Current technical experts include:

Bill Browning | Founder, Terrapin Bright Green

Lane Burt, Policy Director, USGBC

Chris Garvin | Partner, Terrapin Bright Green

Bert Gregory, FAIA | Chairman and CEO, Mithun

Kevin R. Hydes, PE, PEng, CEng, LEED Fellow | President & CEO, Integral Group

Lisa Fay Mattheissen, FAIA, LEED Fellow | Principal, Integral Group 

Rachel Weinberger, Ph.D. | Director of Research and Policy Strategy, Nelson Nygaard

William J. Worthen, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C | Principal-in-Charge and Founder, Urban Fabrick Design