1. Sustainability Education Made Easy

    Programming plans for the 9th annual Growing Sustainable Communities Conference are under way, and a variety of online training opportunities are available now to anyone interested in learning more about sustainability and networking with colleagues in the field.Organizers recently issued a Call for Presentations seeking presentation proposals for the conference, which will be held this year on Oct. 4 and 5 at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa.
  2. How Ice Storms May Shape the Future of Forests

    A team of scientists in New Hampshire recently succeeded in capturing one of nature's most destructive forces - ice - and corralling it in two large research plots on the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest.Scientists from the USDA Forest Service, Syracuse University, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Cornell University, University of Vermont, and the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation created an experimental ice storm that will improve understanding of short- and long-term effects of ice on northern forests.
  3. 2015 Earth's Warmest Year by Widest Margin on Record

    The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2015 was the highest among all years since record keeping began in 1880. During the final month, the December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the highest on record for any month in the 136-year record.So reported the National Centers for Environmental Information at NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in its annual report released this week.
  4. Repurposing Decommissioned Office Furniture & Equipment

    Some nine million tons of used or out-of-fashion office furniture and equipment are dumped into America’s landfills each year, according to the EPA.Yet, much of that “waste” can be diverted and repurposed, according to Green Standards, a Toronto-based company that specializes in the responsible and cost-effective redistribution of surplus and obsolete office furniture, fixtures, supplies and IT equipment.
  5. Miami-Dade County Shores Up for the Rising Tide

    Perhaps nowhere in America is the threat of sea level rise greater than in the state of Florida. With three quarters of its population and more than $2 trillion worth of property and infrastructure located along 1,200 miles of coastline,1 the stakes couldn’t be higher.And, while some regions of the country prepare for projected eventualities, in southeast Florida the consequences of climate change are already a reality: The water is literally lapping at the doorsteps of many homes and businesses during the highest periodic tides of the year.
  6. Success of Community Choice Aggregation Leads to Expansion

    In the last three years, successful implementation of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) in the San Francisco Bay Area has led to “tremendous growth and interest” throughout the state of California, an advocate of CCA told Sustainable City Network.“This is the progress we’ve been working on,” said Shawn Marshall, co-founder and executive director of LEAN (Local Energy Aggregation Network) Energy US.
  7. Reducing the Volume of Holiday Trash

    The holiday season is a busy time of year for solid waste and sustainability departments throughout the country. It’s generally accepted that the volume of household waste increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in the United States.In an effort to reduce their communities’ holiday waste, many cities are promoting reduction and recycling through seasonal programs, while others are working with their communication teams to encourage recycling, reducing and reusing this holiday season through existing sustainability programs.
  8. Greening the Great Smoky Mountains

    SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. – Sevierville and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are greening the mountains of East Tennessee with a robust composting program, use of alternative fuel vehicles, and implementing sustainable development.This year about 10 million people from around the world will visit the Smoky Mountains and each year that number increases. As that number grows, Sevier County, the towns of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, as well as the park itself, are meeting the growing challenge of reducing, reusing, and recycling through innovative sustainable solutions.
  9. Renewable Energy Powers Community Resiliency

    Communities investing in renewable energy infrastructure and systems know that they’ll save money on energy costs, but in the event of a natural disaster or emergency, these systems can prove their value far beyond a reduced monthly utility bill.This was the focus of the Building Resilience through Local Renewable Energy session at the recent Growing Sustainable Communities Conference in Dubuque, Iowa.
  10. Infusing Equity into the Urban Planning Process

    If you want to include equity concerns in your long-range planning, your process might be as important as your results.That’s what the Rhode Island Office of Statewide Planning discovered when it incorporated equity goals into its two-year plan for the first time.
  11. Universities Tout Benefits of Green Power Partnership

    In an effort to both save energy costs and address student concerns, many universities are exploring options to increase their campus’ energy efficiency and incorporate more renewable energy into the mix.But keeping track of these efforts and measuring progress can be difficult, which is why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership can be a great resource.
  12. NYC Prepares for the Next 'Sandy'

    In 1882, Thomas Edison launched the nation’s first public power grid, Pearl Street Station, in New York City. It centralized the capital intensive process of power generation so that it could be provided as an affordable service for as many people as possible.Remnants of Edison’s original grid remained active in New York City’s infrastructure until 2007.
  13. Lessons from Iowa's Epic Floods

    Rivers can be incomparable amenities in cities, attracting visitors, residents, industry and wildlife. However, when rivers rise out of their banks and inundate neighborhoods, businesses and transportation corridors, they require complex and costly action.In the case of two Iowa cities – Cedar Rapids and Ames – epic floods led to flood control and flood mitigation plans that officials hope will make their communities even better than they were before.
  14. Saving the Neighborhood

    Whether to demolish or preserve buildings damaged by disaster or neglect is a hard choice many cities face. If left alone, abandoned buildings can spread a contagion of blight throughout a community. But if a building is historic and able to be renovated, relocated or salvaged for materials, cities have some direction on how to proceed.That is why historic preservation planning can be a key component of growing sustainable communities and preventing or eliminating blight.
  15. Codifying Sustainability

    Local zoning codes might not be on the radar of some sustainability supporters, but they have a surprising amount of influence over which projects can be completed.In many communities, development codes haven't kept pace with the times, according to presenters at the 8th annual Growing Sustainable Communities Conference held recently in Dubuque, Iowa.
  16. Large-Scale Composting Solutions

    Composting is a great way to divert food scraps away from the trash can — but how can it be applied in a larger context, such as in a hospital or university cafeteria? Composting on such a large scale not only reduces negative impacts on the environment, but also provides an opportunity to educate thousands of patrons about the benefits of going green.We asked these three university and hospital professionals four questions about their experiences implementing composting programs:
  17. Bike Share Programs Roll Out

    Today’s college students don’t want the hassle of bike maintenance or the annoyance of a stolen bicycle on a rainy day. At the same time, university sustainability managers want to encourage students to commute to their classes without using a car.The answer?
  18. Portland's Bridge to the Future

    At first glance, the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People spanning the Willamette River in Portland, Ore., looks like any other cable-stayed bridge in any other river city. But take a closer look and you might notice something different.Traversing this new bridge, which opened on Sept. 12, are light rail trains, streetcars, buses, people on bicycles and pedestrians. But, you won’t see a single private car or truck – because, on this bridge, they aren’t allowed.
  19. Solar Interest Remains High Despite Legislative Freeze

    Ohio farmers, businesses and others remain interested in solar energy, despite the impact of a legislative freeze in the state’s renewable portfolio standard.Ohio added 15 megawatts (MW) of solar energy capacity last year, according to a report released by Environment Ohio on Sept. 3. Ohio ranked 20th among all states and the District of Columbia for capacity installations in 2014.
  20. Software Improves Water Quality, Reduces Consumption

    FORT COLLINS, Colo. - With drought intensifying across western North America and a changing climate that means less water for growing populations, companies, organizations and communities are increasingly facing risks and uncertainties for their water resources.A team of five Fort Collins companies led by sustainability engineering and planning firm Brendle Group has spearheaded the groundbreaking Net Zero Water (NZW) Initiative and launched a first-of-its-kind building scale software toolkit to achieve water neutrality.
  21. Striking a Balance: Urban Growth and Habitat Preservation

    More than 50 percent of Americans live in major towns and cities, and according to the World Health Organization, the majority of humans will be living in urban areas by 2017.As these communities continue to build into surrounding habitat, conservationists are concerned that nature will eventually strike back, whether through forest fires, flooding or other natural disasters.
  22. Gentrification Without Losing the Neighborhood

    Have you heard of “the Whole Foods effect?”In the real estate world it’s considered a phenomena whereby the arrival of a Whole Foods, an upscale grocery store featuring organic produce and products, can predict a neighborhood’s gentrification. The event supposedly signals a tipping point, leading to rising property values in the neighborhood and the addition of similarly upscale stores, boutiques and retail outlets nearby.
  23. Sustainable Procurement – More Than Buying Green

    Incorporating sustainable procurement policies at public and private institutions has been a growing trend in recent years.But while some organizations still define the practice strictly in ecologic terms, many are now incorporating the other two fundamental aspects of sustainability — economic viability and social equity — into their buying decisions.
  24. Forecasting the Next Pandemic

    Scientists believe they may soon be able to fight emerging diseases before they have a chance to spread into global pandemics. By merging big data with artificial intelligence, a recent study showed "machine learning" could pinpoint rodent species that harbor diseases and identify the geographic hotspots most vulnerable to new parasites and pathogens.The study, led by Barbara A. Han, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, was reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  25. Reusing Historic Buildings

    To some, the term “historic preservation” summons an image of old-timers sitting around a dusty museum basement, trying to find a way to save drafty old houses that remind everyone of the good ol’ days.In reality, “historic preservation” means finding ways to both honor the heritage of a place, and capitalize on its existing resources in order to revitalize a community.
  26. Hotel or Home-Share: Which is Greener?

    Long before there were hotels, there was room-sharing. Room- or home-sharing is the simple concept of renting out a space in your home to a stranger for a short period at a fixed price.It was a common practice in early America, when almost every community had a boarding house or home with a "room to let."
  27. Green Dorm Rooms Get Students on the Right Path

    As universities and colleges work to become more sustainable, administrators are looking for ways to educate – and encourage – their students to adopt “greener” lifestyles.Consider the thousands (upon thousands) of students on each campus across North America, and the impact of students adopting a more sustainable lifestyle is quite significant.
  28. Power Up Anywhere with Solar Charging Stations

    Joe Kobus was on his way back from a Colorado whitewater rafting trip about a decade ago when he got the idea for his company, EnerFusion Inc. Flying standby, he ended up waiting in the Denver airport for the better part of a day and in search of a convenient, free way to charge his laptop.An engineer by trade, Kobus started thinking about solutions to his charging challenge.
  29. Dubuque Comes Back in a Big Way

    In the 1980s, Dubuque, Iowa, was down and out, or so it seemed. The farm crisis that had swept across America’s grain belt hit Dubuque’s agriculture-based economy especially hard – at one time bringing the city’s unemployment rate to a nation-high 23 percent. Its Mississippi riverfront, arguably the community’s most precious asset, was a tangled mess of scrap yards, rusty oil tanks, shuttered factories and dilapidated warehouses.By the end of the decade, thousands of people (nearly 8 percent of its population) had left the city for greener pastures and, adding symbolic insult to injury, even the “little old lady from Dubuque” had passed on.
  30. Reducing Waste in the Operating Room

    Of all the waste a hospital generates, as much as 20 to 30 percent comes directly from the operating room.Surgical procedures sometimes result in hospitals discarding tools that have been opened but never used. What’s more, disposing of operating room waste isn’t a simple matter of throwing it in a dumpster bound for the landfill; state and federal laws require some materials to get special treatment that can cost 10 to 15 times as much as ordinary waste disposal.
  31. Get Low-Tech Efficiency with 'Passive House'

    Passive house is a construction concept that aims to create energy efficient, ecological, comfortable and affordable housing – basically a modern home using a minimal amount of energy.Rather than gaining energy efficiency through high-tech systems, passive houses rely on thicker insulation, high-performance windows and air-tight construction.
  32. Campus Farms Sustain Growth in Local Foods

    The local food movement has grown in recent years, and no less so than on college campuses, with community gardens and campus farms proliferating at schools of all sizes.College campus gardens are so mainstream that there are published rankings naming the best ones in publications like Best College Reviews and Modern Farmer.
  33. Tallahassee Reports on 85 Sustainability Initiatives

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Last year was a banner year for the Tallahassee Department of Environmental Policy and Energy Resources. In the seventh edition of its Green Initiatives Annual Report, released last week, city officials touted their progress on more than 85 sustainability initiatives in 2014.Many have been financed in part by more than $1.29 million acquired in recent years from federal and state grants.
  34. Public Health + Urban Planning = Quality of Life

    That lifestyle and social behavior directly affect health is a widely accepted fact. Not only do poor nutrition and fitness choices account for nearly half of early deaths, but health also can be strongly influenced by the community in which an individual lives.In communities where people can easily walk and bike to work, school, stores, parks and restaurants, for example, an average of nearly a half hour per week is added to one’s lifespan. Sadly, communities without such amenities as parks and active lifestyle programs are often the poorest.
  35. Public Input and Planning Aid TOD

    Residents of Denver’s West Colfax neighborhood can hop on the new W Line light rail extension and arrive at the city’s dazzling Union Station in less than 15 minutes - without the hassle (or expense) of parking. They don’t even have to leave the station if they don’t want to.There are stores to buy a book or flowers, eat some oysters or ice cream, or have a drink or two, because Union Station - which was once an abandoned rail yard - now serves not only as a transportation hub, but also a commercial one, right in the middle of downtown Denver. Visitors can even spend the night in a quality hotel on site.
  36. Rethinking 'Invasive' Species

    It’s generally accepted that invasive plants and animals are bad for biodiversity and should be eradicated. Many individuals, organizations and municipal leaders have enlisted in the battle against these non-native species - plants in particular.Millions of dollars, not to mention hours, are spent yanking, cutting or applying herbicides to certain species, while simultaneously nurturing others. However, without an understanding of their repercussions, these efforts can do more harm than good. Some experts in urban ecology warn that labeling plants as native or non-native, bad or good, and allowing those labels to direct policy, could be the wrong approach.
  37. Neighborhood Bars Provide a Sense of Community

    The neighborhood pub, a popular drinking establishment with reasonably priced cold beer that appeals to both millennials and retirees, is on the verge of a rebirth in many North American cities.It’s coming back as millennials ditch their cars and demand amenities of urban life that include shopping, restaurants and bars within walking distance of their high-density homes.
  38. Workplace Recycling Gets Boost from 'Little Trash'

    STAMFORD, Conn. -- Providing employees with a desk-side recycling bin and a smaller trash bin attached to it can serve as a success model for increasing recycling and reducing waste in the workplace.This recommendation, referred to as the “Little Trash” scenario, is one key insight coming out of a workplace recycling study released this week by Keep America Beautiful.
  39. California Agency Tests Water Recycling

    California’s drought is getting worse, prompting a new willingness across the state to try solutions that go beyond water rationing and desalinating ocean water.The prospect of recycling wastewater into potable, drinking quality water has raised some eyebrows among customers of the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, in San Diego’s east county, which is why education was a key component of the test facility’s launch on April 10.

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