Sustainability Policies and Best Practices

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  1. Iowa Legislature Defunds Sustainable Agriculture Research

    A bill passed by the Iowa Legislature to defund the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture now waits on the desk of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad.Supporters of the 30-year-old research center at Iowa State University in Ames are hoping one of Bradstad's final acts as governor will be to veto the closure. After all, it was Bradstad himself who signed the 1987 Iowa Groundwater Protection Act into law, providing funds to establish and maintain the Leopold Center.
  2. Trump Order Rescinds Obama Climate Initiatives

    In a sweeping executive order, U.S. President Donald Trump has reversed course on the federal government's response to climate change, rescinding numerous environmental protections implemented by the Obama administration.Trump, who has famously described scientific evidence of climate change as a hoax perpetrated by China, framed the March 28 order as actions intended to promote U.S. energy independence and economic growth.
  3. Palo Alto Embraces Its Family Tree

    If ever there was a tree that served as a metaphor for a city – consider El Palo Alto. The tree, whose name means “the tall stick” in Spanish, is a 110-foot-tall California redwood that stands on the bank of a creek near the southwest tip of San Francisco Bay, where it has stood for more than 1,000 years.While human activity in the first half of the 20th century nearly killed it, people began rallying to care for its health in the 1950s and it has since rebounded – albeit about 50 feet shorter than it once was.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Equity, Smart Growth Converge at St. Louis 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.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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.”
  12. 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.
  13. 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:
  14. 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.
  15. 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?
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Early Warning System for Infectious Diseases?

    In the recent issue of EMBO reports, Barbara Han of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and John Drake of the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology call for the creation of a global early warning system for infectious diseases.Such a system would use computer models to tap into environmental, epidemiological and molecular data, gathering the intelligence needed to forecast where disease risk is high and what actions could prevent outbreaks or contain epidemics.
  24. Majoring in Sustainability

    As an evolving job market demands variously skilled workers, higher education responds by developing academic programs to meet those emerging demands.  Fields like sustainability and clean energy are no exception.According to the U.S. Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency many colleges and universities around the country offer four-year and advanced degree programs in renewable energy fields. In addition, many community colleges offer two-year programs and certifications to give workers a basic set of skills they need to work in various clean energy trades.
  25. Pittsburgh Shakes Off the Rust

    How does a city go from being one of the most polluted places on earth to becoming a shining example of economic resilience and ecological recovery?Well, for the city of Pittsburgh, it’s been complicated. While the city’s past stands as a testament to the iniquity of unbridled industrial exploitation, the course it has set for the future is decidedly more sustainable.
  26. High-Speed Rail Builds Momentum in California

    The Golden State is on track to build the first carbon-neutral, high-speed rail system in the United States.The rail system will link Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, and sustainability is woven into every aspect of this project, starting with a commitment to zero net direct construction greenhouse gas emissions and continuing to improve overall air quality for future Californians.
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