A number of contributions have analysed or supported community or neighbourhood-level activities connected with the development of sustainable or low-carbon localities. The paper reports on a recently completed project (Newcastle Low Carbon Neighbourhoods). The paper aims to deepen understanding of problems relating to the creation of low-carbon neighbourhoods, focusing on competing discourses, which tend to marginalise residents. The paper shows that there is the potential to employ critical discourse analysis to probe the inclusivity or exclusivity of social and political actors and agenda, and the story sets, texts and practices capable of binding together, or keeping apart, individuals, groups and perspectives, and to examine the normative underpinnings of people’s behaviour and interpretations. The conclusions concern what we learn from the project regarding the role of language in multi-actor research and engagement and the promotion of low-carbon homes and neighbourhoods, which may be informative for the broader challenge of city-wide urban sustainability.