Sustainable Development

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  1. Group Builds Energy Smart Affordable Housing in Texas

    Fighting poverty in one of the poorest counties in the United States takes a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach. It’s more than affordable housing units. It’s more than creating jobs. It’s more than educational opportunities.It’s about drastic changes that impact future generations.
  2. The Legacy of the Rosenwald Schools

    In the early 1930s, one out of every three black children in the South attended a special type of school that few people remember today.The Rosenwald Schools, which at their height numbered 5,000, provided black schoolchildren with the opportunity for greatly improved education, helping to decrease the gap between the quality of education available to black students as compared to white students. In the past 60 years since the dissolution of the Rosenwald School program, the legacy of the schools has been forgotten by most.
  3. Accommodating Pedestrians in Active Work Zones

    The city of Raleigh, N.C., has developed a 36-page guidebook to help developers and construction crews comply with regulations and best practices for accommodating pedestrians in work zones."With the increase in construction projects and overall population growth, especially in downtown Raleigh, it is imperative that work sites comply with local, state, and federal guidelines to allow for pedestrian mobility, especially older people and people with disabilities," the guidebook notes.
  4. Henderson Becomes a Shining STAR

    The city of Henderson, Nev., has become the latest U.S. city to be formally certified in the STAR Community Rating System. The city's approved final score is 426.1, which qualifies Henderson as a Certified 4-STAR Community.The city is the 45th community nationwide to achieve certification from STAR Communities, a nonprofit organization that certifies sustainable communities.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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."
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Students Learn Sustainability with Life in 'The Domes'

    For more than 30 years, small groups of University of California-Davis students have had a unique student housing option – 14 small, igloo-like domes set on a 4-acre plot.What started out as an experience in energy conservation and an alternative to traditional housing continues to be a popular and affordable option for 26 students looking for a tight-knit community within a campus of more than 35,000 undergraduates. The Baggins End Innovative Housing community, commonly referred to as The Domes, is located on the UC Davis campus.
  22. Energy Audits Cut Costs and Reduce Emissions

    Tax season might not be the best time to talk about audits, but this kind of audit could save institutions a lot of money and help them reach their emission reduction goals, too.Experts say not enough building owners are taking advantage of energy audits.
  23. Solar Panels Keep Paying for Themselves

    Solar power’s fan base is growing.As the solar power industry continues to grow and develop, early adopters agree that installing the panels was a great decision, whether on top of a private home, university building or city aquarium.
  24. Should Schools be 'Embedded' in Neighborhoods?

    When school facility planners determine where and how to place a new school building, they have at least two sets of factors to consider.One deals with the various state requirements for school building layout, athletic facility sizes and adequate parking. The other factors include whether it is possible to embed a new school into a neighborhood, creating a school that kids are able to walk to and that is able to serve the whole community.
  25. How Parks Can Guide Regional Development

    Planned and designed properly, green infrastructure in municipal parks can spark and strategically guide urban growth, bring substantial benefits – including public health and community cohesion – and deliver higher quality environmental conditions.At a regional scale, green infrastructure is a tool to help manage growth, directing what might otherwise become costly and resource consumptive sprawl to positive, popularly-supported community development.
  26. Concrete Ideas for Reducing Concrete Waste

    Civil engineering researchers, sustainable construction advocates and innovators in the zero-waste movement are on the hunt for the most effective and efficient ways to use and reuse concrete.The world is literally covered in concrete and with an annual production of 3 tons per person globally it is the second most consumed material on earth, after water. Its strength and durability are coveted by construction crews from New Zealand to Zimbabwe.
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