Urban political ecologies of housing and climate change: the ‘Coolest Block’ Contest in Philadelphia

Gareth A. S. Edwards (Lead Author), Harriet Bulkeley

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Urban authorities and a range of private and civil society actors have come to view housing as a key arena in which to address climate change whilst also pursuing wider social, economic and environmental objectives. Housing has been a critical area for urban studies, but often considered in sectoral terms and work on urban responses to climate change has followed this positioning. By contrast, an Urban Political Ecology (UPE) perspective would position housing in more integrated terms as part of the metabolism of the city. Yet so far there has been relatively little written in UPE about either housing or climate change. This paper therefore seeks to bring UPE into dialogue with the emergent literature focused on governing climate change through housing. It does so through a detailed study of the ‘Retrofit Philly “Coolest Block” Contest’. We argue that this contest highlights the ways climate change is changing the way housing is embedded in the circulations of the city, pointing to changes in who is governing housing, how housing is being governed and who is able to access the benefits of (climate change-branded) action on housing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1126-1141
Number of pages16
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number5
Early online date19 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • climate change
  • governance
  • housing
  • Philadelphia
  • urban political ecology

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