1. Trump's Budget Declares War on Sustainability

    The opening salvo of President Trump's war on sustainability was fired last week when he released his preliminary budget outline for FY2018.As promised throughout his campaign and in the early months of his administration, Trump’s first budget proposal to Congress attempts to lead the United States in a completely new direction, with a dramatic shift in national priorities.
  2. Big Data and the Internet of Things

    According to technology lore, the “Internet of Things” first came into being in the early 1980s when someone in the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University connected a soda machine to the Internet so they could tell without leaving their desk whether their favorite brand of soda was still in stock and had reached the desired temperature.Since these auspicious beginnings, humankind has been adding almost every conceivable device to the global network.
  3. Saving America's Public Housing

    The U.S. government has created a housing crisis by chronically underfunding public housing for years, according to a recent report by the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association.As a result, there is a $26 billion backlog of unmet capital needs in America's public housing stock, and local housing authorities are receiving only 70 percent of the operating funds they were promised, the report states.
  4. Driverless Car Technology Speeds Along

    Driverless cars, also known as autonomous vehicles (or AVs), aren't science fiction. While many questions remain about safety, infrastructure, federal oversight, and the practical applications of the technology itself, experts agree that local governments should begin planning now.Like the “horseless carriage” that overwhelmed and totally changed the world forever in the 20th Century, driverless cars are expected by some to do the same in the not-too-distant future.
  5. Inclusionary Housing Policies Attract Millennials

    In a country where housing supply is not keeping up with demand, especially for cash-strapped working families and millennials, many cities are using inclusionary zoning ordinances to make sure middle-class homebuyers aren’t left out in the cold when housing developers draw up their plans.Key to any discussion on affordable housing is the definition of “affordable” and exactly who can afford it.
  6. U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Down 11.6% Since 2007

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a draft report this week that indicates the nation's greenhouse gas emissions declined 2.2 percent in 2015, continuing a generally downward trend since U.S. emissions peaked in 2007.Overall, net emissions in 2015 were 11.6 percent below 2007 levels, according to the report. Except for 2012, when emissions were slightly lower, they have not been this low since 1993.
  7. Equity, Smart Growth Converge as St. Louis Hosts Conference

    ST. LOUIS, Mo. − With civil unrest after the Michael Brown shooting, legal challenges over discriminatory policing practices, and the contentious election of President Donald Trump all serving as unavoidable subplots, equity and inclusivity were reoccurring themes at the 16th annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference held last week in St. Louis.While Trump's name was not uttered once during the opening plenary session, his perceived threat to the core values of many in the room was palpable.
  8. Synthetic Chemicals: Ignored Agents of Global Change

    MILLBROOK, New York -- Despite a steady rise in the manufacture and release of synthetic chemicals, research on the ecological effects of pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and industrial chemicals is severely lacking.This blind spot undermines efforts to address global change and achieve sustainability goals. So reports a new study in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a publication of the Ecological Society of America.
  9. Community Tree Canopy Programs Made Easy

    Empowering citizens to acquire the right trees, and plant them in the right locations, can make an important contribution to a city’s sustainability goals, and the Arbor Day Foundation recently made it a lot easier for local governments and organizations to get a tree distribution program up and running.By now, most people know the benefits of trees: they can save energy by providing shade and wind breaks around buildings, they reduce soil erosion, mitigate stormwater, provide habitat for wildlife, cool and beautify neighborhoods, absorb carbon, clean the air and water, and raise property values.
  10. Dangerous by Design: Report Advocates for Pedestrian Safety

    Between 2005 and 2014, a total of 46,149 Americans were struck and killed by cars while walking. A new report released this month by Smart Growth America and its National Complete Streets Coalition argues that street design is a leading factor in this escalating problem.More than 1,200 Complete Streets policies are now in place at the state, regional, and local levels, and over the last year federal agencies have followed suit with changes in national policy intended to make streets safer for everyone, the report says.
  11. Feeding Public Schools with Local Food Hubs

    Question: Can schools be viable local food markets for farmers if they partner with a food hub?Answer: Yes, according to a recent study conducted by Iowa State University with a grant from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. In order to truly grow farm to school programs, there needs to be an intermediary market like a food hub that can serve as a facilitator between the farmer and the school.
  12. Swimming in Sustainability

    Situated five miles from the Alabama border in southern-middle Tennessee is the quaint city of Loretto. With a population of approximately 1,800, the town is usually quiet, but recently there’s been a big splash with the opening of a new state-of-the-art recreation space.Through a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Office of Sustainable Practices (TDEC), Division of Recreation Educational Services, and Croy Engineering, Loretto celebrated the opening of its new pool in August 2016.
  13. Neighborhood Revitalization Springs from the Pulpit

    During the Christmas season, popular 1940s-era movies get a lot of play on cable TV, with heartwarming stories of churches helping their people and communities in times of need.Think of Bing Crosby in “Bells of St. Mary’s” or “Going My Way.”
  14. Tribal Food Sovereignty: Beyond the Community Garden

    The local foods movement has swept the nation in recent years, with individuals buying foods produced close to home or grown in their own backyards or community gardens. This emphasis can also be found in some restaurants, grocery stores and school cafeterias.Local foods are considered by many to be more nutritious as well as more sustainable, because they typically require less energy to grow, package and transport than commercial brands. They might also be more reliable in the event of a man-made or natural disaster so, in that respect, they can help make a community more resilient.
  15. Community Visioning on a Smaller Scale

    Municipal leaders and staff in large metro areas face ongoing maintenance of roads, bridges, sewers, housing, transit fleets, and other fixtures of urban life. Small towns have infrastructure and amenities to work on, too, but on a smaller scale.Some projects can be as simple as installing an attractive welcome sign at the city limits and putting a little landscaping around it. Other needs are more complex, like rejuvenating structures on Main Street or making sidewalks compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  16. Connected Infrastructure Promises Bright Future

    According to Wikipedia, “A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate multiple information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets.”Now, if you could gather that information and use it to predict elements of the future that would save time and money, and increase the safety of residents, you would be well on your way to becoming an "intelligent city."
  17. Deconstruction: Beyond the Bang

    An unsafe or unrepairable building doesn't have to be a burden. In the right hands, it's a treasure trove.How do you make money from a crumbling residence hall or hospital? "It's what you know, and it's also who you know," said Don Seymour, principal at FEH Design.
  18. SWEEP Advances Energy Efficiency in Six States

    Advocates have learned that energy efficiency programs are significantly more effective when they have the support of local utility companies.“We make the case that these polices are good for the utility company, the economy and the environment,” said Howard Geller, executive director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). “We work with utilities in a collaborative way. We offer to help make energy efficiency programs financially attractive to both them and their customers.”
  19. Gamifying Disaster Preparedness

    The trouble with disaster response is that decisions have to be made at the wrong time — because all times are the wrong time.Either civic leaders must act in the midst of an emergency, when damage is mounting and emotions run high, or they must make choices when there is no emergency and everything seems fine. Harvey Hill and Jason Smith, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Institute for Water Resources, describe this as “cycles of complacency and panic.”
  20. Tackling Poverty One Asset at a Time

    Generational systemic poverty doesn't just affect individuals and families. It affects entire communities. So it makes sense that individuals, families, and communities combine resources to resolve poverty, together.Two organizations in Dubuque, Iowa, are involved in an innovative national movement that engages individuals and communities to resolve poverty. One of these is the Circles Initiative, a networking model for under-resourced individuals and families to address the barriers in their lives and create a supported vision for their future.
  21. Is the Infrastructure 'Time Bomb' Beginning to Blow?

    With infrastructure crumbling, and limited resources to repair and replace it, decisions about which projects have highest priority and how to pay for them loom large for many cities.For years, experts have been warning that catastrophic failures in roads, bridges, dams, sewers and water mains are inevitable without dramatic increases in capital spending, and many believe the low-density suburban landscapes we've created over the past 50 years are rapidly becoming unsustainable as infrastructure repair costs begin to exceed the tax revenue generated by these neighborhoods.
  22. Fostering Sustainability from the Ground Up

    Sustainability starts with neighborhoods and, with the right promotion, can spread across an entire city and into the next until it becomes a regional force for positive change.Organizers of a statewide survey in Wisconsin and a neighborhood initiative in Hobart, Ind., shared their experiences and discoveries at the recent Growing Sustainable Communities Conference in Dubuque. One of the biggest lessons learned:
  23. Energy Reduction a 'Contact' Sport

    If you turn learning into a game, people are more interested in the lesson. That's especially true if you turn your game into a contest with prizes that will directly and immediately benefit them.That's what the city of Columbia, Mo. did when it introduced its Neighborhood Energy Challenge in 2013. This game set up a friendly competition between neighborhoods to see which one could reduce its energy consumption the most.
  24. Raleigh: 21st Century City of Innovation

    “We are a 21st Century City of Innovation focusing on environmental, cultural and economic sustainability.”So proclaims the Raleigh, N.C. City Council in the leading sentence of its mission statement.
  25. El Paso Behind in Solar PV, but Picking Up the Pace

    If there’s one thing El Paso, Texas has plenty of, it’s sunshine. So, it would stand to reason that this west Texas border town known as the “Sun City” would possess a booming solar energy market. But, as research at the University of Texas has discovered, that has not been the case in El Paso.This article examines the evolution of solar photovoltaics (SPV) in the El Paso area. It highlights the milestone events associated with national and state policy decisions that affected the region’s adoption of solar power, and the role the El Paso Electric Company has played in the development of this technology.
  26. Involving Citizens in Impact Assessments

    Impact assessments are typically conducted as legal requirements to identify the economic, social and environmental effects of public policy. They usually involve public meetings led by government officials in government buildings.But, what if the role of the citizen wasn’t limited to that of a spectator in these assessments? What if residents were given the opportunity to lead these discussions?
  27. Urban Gardens Feed America’s Hungriest City

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- In Memphis, only seven out of 77 high-poverty neighborhoods are within reasonable distance of a full-service supermarket.The United States Department of Agriculture defines these remaining 70 neighborhoods as food deserts, which means that residents of these areas don’t have ready access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Grocery stores in these areas are more than one mile away and most residents don’t have a personal vehicle. Public transportation in these areas is often unreliable.
  28. Libraries Seen as Essential to Sustainability

    As city governments large and small struggle to fund essential services such as fire protection and safe infrastructure, some managers eye the "non-essential" service provided by the public library as a place to cut the budget.Library staff and boards are speaking up, arguing that they are one of the few spaces in the world of public democracy available to all members of the community, regardless of age, education, income or interests.
  29. Tool Improves Transportation and Health Policies

    It isn't likely that a controversial highway like the Cross Bronx Expressway could be built in America in 2016.The expressway, created by New York City planner Robert Moses in 1948 and open since 1955, is likely the shining example of how NOT to design a major transportation artery. Moses continues to be blamed for destroying the South Bronx neighborhood by putting the automobile first and ignoring vital social and public health concerns.
  30. Small Towns Share a Roadmap to Economic Recovery

    If you’ve ever driven Interstate 35 north or south through the nation’s mid-section, you’ve probably stopped in Emporia, Kan. - or at least seen the exits. The highway bisects the small, Midwestern city, which lies approximately halfway between Kansas City and Wichita. If you’re familiar with the area as more than just a rest stop, you have likely observed some changes in recent years.Like many small and mid-sized American cities, Emporia experienced population decline and economic stagnation in recent decades. Rather than resign itself to such a fate, though, the city picked itself up by its bootstraps.
  31. Soil Erosion is Everyone's Problem

    Losing ground is never a good situation.Soil erosion had been declining since the late 1970s, but latest statistics show “we’re headed back up,” said Rick Cruse, professor of agronomy at Iowa State University in Ames.
  32. Sustainability Conference Slated Oct. 4-5

    DUBUQUE, Iowa – A conference that provides workshops, mobile tours and keynote presentations on the latest developments in community sustainability and resiliency initiatives will be held Oct. 4-5 at the Grand River Center in the Port of Dubuque.Registration is now open on the conference web site at www.GSCDubuque.com.
  33. Wetland Restoration Promises Many Benefits

    CHAPEL HILL, Tenn. -- A 65-acre agricultural field has been restored to its original wetland state in the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee, producing ecological, human, and economic benefits for the local community.The restoration project was completed at Henry Horton State Park in Chapel Hill through a partnership between park staff, the town of Chapel Hill, the Tennessee Environmental Council, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and local volunteers. This project has successfully reintroduced one of the most diverse ecosystem types back into the region, while improving local water quality.
  34. City Builds Outdoor Classroom to Teach Sustainability

    FARRAGUT, Tenn. -- Farragut’s eco-friendly outdoor classroom provides the residents of the East Tennessee town of 22,000 with hands-on environmental learning opportunities.Visitors to the classroom can learn about stormwater management, water quality, composting, and environmental conservation, all while growing delicious fresh produce.
  35. Finding New Life for Superfund Sites

    The term “Superfund site” likely conjures images of a dead, gray landscape and dry, cracked earth, bisected by a creek bed oozing a mysterious slime.But, while it’s true that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund program identifies some of the nation's most contaminated sites, it’s not necessarily the case that the sites languish unattended into perpetuity. In fact, once a site is actually declared a Superfund site, it becomes eligible for a variety of federally-funded clean-up efforts.
  36. In Kansas City, It’s All About People

    Yes, sustainability is about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yes it’s about saving energy and managing stormwater. Yes, it’s about green building and transit-oriented development.But, for Dennis Murphey, chief environmental officer for the city of Kansas City, Mo., those are all just means to an end. For him, the end game is creating a city that works for ALL its people.
  37. Developing Health Oriented Neighborhoods

    Say you’re driving through a city you don’t know well – or maybe even your hometown - and you discover a new neighborhood.The shops and restaurants look interesting, the sidewalks are wide, people are out and about, and it looks inviting.
  38. Green Infrastructure Fuels Green Jobs

    Google “community college” and “horticulture” or “community college” and “landscape design” and programs from all over the country will pop up, boasting course offerings in urban farming, garden design, plant classification, and the like.Increasingly, many such programs also include offerings in green infrastructure strategies.
  39. Putting Schools in the Right Spots

    Going to school is a big part of every day for students and their families. Schools influence where families choose to live and how communities grow.Deciding where the school should be is a big decision that affects community safety and health.

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