Sustainability Policies and Best Practices

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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:
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. How Philanthropy Funds Sustainability

    The world of funding and philanthropy is changing. So is the environment around us. Consequently, there is an opportunity to engage funders in conversations about smart growth and sustainability.So, how do we better understand philanthropic roles in smart growth? And, what opportunities (and challenges) are there at a national and local level?
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
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