The transportation sector is the largest and fastest-growing emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) in Massachusetts and ranks second in Newton’s GHG emissions. Our transportation infrastructure also has a significant environmental impact. Ideas for greening transportation must go far beyond electrifying the fleet, given that almost half of lifetime GHG emissions from electric vehicles are from their production. To slow climate change and move to an environmentally sustainable transportation system, Green Newton has adopted the following priciples:


1.  Reduce Energy Use in Transportation

with Improved Alternatives


People can be moved more efficiently and in fewer vehicles, as we prioritize walking, biking, and transit use. The key to getting people to change transportation habits will be making alternatives pleasant, safe, convenient, and easy.

  • Redesign streets to support safe and efficient walking, biking, and mass transit routes
  • Set performance targets for road projects using throughput counts of people, not vehicles
  • Create safe pleasant networks for walking and biking that connect people to shops, schools, parks, and transit
  • Educate people to change their transportation-related behavior
  • Work with the MBTA to increase the frequency of public transportation and reduce trip times
  • Work with neighboring communities to connect mass transit and bike routes across city lines
  • Reserve parking in villages and commercial centers for car-sharing services
  • Use economic incentives to motivate change, such as congestion pricing


2.  Change Land Use Regulations

to Minimize the Need for Transportation


Land use and development patterns of the last 60 years have increased the use of vehicles and created significant traffic congestion. Neighborhoods that require only a short walk to places people frequent, such as pharmacies, grocery stores, restaurants, and parks, reduce vehicle usage. Development near transit nodes enables businesses to attract and keep employees who rely on public transportation or biking to get to work.

  • Support mixed-use development, housing, and commercial, near transportation hubs
  • Eliminate parking minimums and allow shared parking
  • Design streets to prioritize mass transit and non-vehicle traffic near dense housing, and commercial areas


3.  Work Towards a Carbon Zero Vehicle Fleet


  • Vehicles will continue to be part of the transportation
    mix in the foreseeable future, so it is important that the use of electric vehicles (EV) increase. EV transportation significantly lowers GHG emissions, especially when using a green power supply.
  • Encourage residents to switch to electric vehicles, including electric bikes, and other micro-mobility vehicles
  • Require electrification of large vehicles, such as commercial garbage trucks and public transportation vehicles
  • Reserve parking spaces in villages and other large commercial and public parking lots for electric vehicles


4.  ​Use Fuller Cost Accounting

and Potential for

Other Economic Benefits

when Evaluating Transportation Projects


  • The costs of transportation are distributed and include indirect and often undervalued environmental costs. For example, paved surfaces increase stormwater runoff, flooding, heat island effects, and their associated remediation costs to the City. Infrastructure changes should be evaluated for other gains such as supporting economic growth or improved health outcomes.
  • Include the Climate Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation and Resiliency Action Plan goals with an estimate of preventable remediation costs in projects
  • Use lifetime costs estimates and include cost savings from preventive measures, such as street trees and depaving
  • Set parking fees based on the full costs of parking on public streets and lots, including construction, maintenance, and environmental mitigation, such as filtering drains connecting to waterways
  • Place a value on street trees, bioswales, porous surfaces, and other methods of reducing the environmental impacts of transportation in project cost estimates


Image 1, Newton’s Greenhouse Gas Footprint (7/27/2019)

Image 2, Low Carbon Transport Hierarchy (7/27/2019)

Image 3, Benefits of Urban Trees (7/27/2019)