Skip to content

Zero-Emission Zones: Turning Ideas into Action

Start Date: January 2024
Funding: Urban Freight Lab
Project Budget: $100,000

C40 Cities, a consortium of cities worldwide with the collective goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, introduced an initiative in 2017 to create “Zero Emission Areas.” These areas, or zones, would be closed off to fossil fuel-burning vehicles and serve as a testbed for scaling up zero-emission regulation. Seattle, along with U.S. counterparts Austin, Texas and Los Angeles, CA, is a signatory to the Zero Emission Area Programme and as such, is obligated to create such an area by 2030.

Zero Emission Zones (ZEZ) can introduce obstacles to the urban freight and logistics industry. Though large delivery companies like Amazon, UPS, and FedEx are introducing electric vehicles (EVs), parcel and package delivery are not the only service included in the complex sector of urban freight. EVs are not yet widely available on the market and the high capital costs of introducing EVs into a company’s fleet can act as a barrier. However, there are strategies being tested and explored to reduce emissions including but not limited to zero emission curb zones, parcel lockers, e-cargo bikes, pricing strategies at the curb and at the point of sale (e.g. taxes and fees), consolidation centers, and other strategies. Additionally, many of these zones are being envisioned in areas with a focus on improving equity outcomes and across neighborhoods of different characteristics. However, no guidance exists for cities about how to approach the selection of these areas or tactics co-developed with the private sector.

Research Objectives

  • Develop a framework for evaluating geographic locations, existing policy tools, and key learning objectives or measures of success based on two different neighborhood typologies
  • Incorporate private sector stakeholders into the design process


  • Task 1: Define the characteristics and goals of a zero-emission delivery zone
  • Task 2: Perform literature and policy scan on existing tools to push deliveries towards zero emission (industry and consumer-side)
  • Task 3: Identify 2 different neighborhood typologies in Seattle for analysis and define the study area boundaries
    • One neighborhood should meet existing definitions of a Justice 40 or equity focus area community as defined by City of Seattle (e.g. Georgetown)
    • One neighborhood should represent high-density demand for e-commerce and congestion (define?) (e.g. Capital Hill, South Lake Union)
  • Task 4: Collect publicly-available baseline data on neighborhood characteristics collect data (land use, types of businesses, demographics of residents)
  • Task 5: Develop potential scenarios, tactics, and metrics that reflect the unique characteristics of the chosen neighborhoods/typologies
    • The team will leverage existing relationships to perform private sector outreach, based on interviews: understand their priorities, reactions to scenarios under development.
  • Task 6: Recommendations and framework
    • How do you choose the site / site selection criteria and methodology
    • Tactics based on neighborhood typology characteristics- using policies available right now or with limited policy effort
    • Equity-Community metrics- How does the makeup of the zone/neighborhood impact tactics + metrics?
    • Key metrics- What are you trying to test and how will you measure?
    • Tools to accelerate the implementation of zero-emission deliveries.


Create a framework for zero emission zone design and case study of two different neighborhoods in Seattle.