Public Works

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  1. New Tool Helps Improve 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. Robert A. Caro’s 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York,” details how it happened.
  2. Tennessee 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Transforming Agricultural Waste into Fertilizer

    With more than 300 food related industries in Tennessee, waste management can be a considerable – and costly – challenge. Composting agricultural byproducts can be a cost-effective, sustainable solution that takes production waste out of landfills and puts it back into the soil.The Compost Company in Ashland City, Tenn., is turning organic waste products into a high-yield compost material for farmers, landscapers, and gardeners.
  5. Parks Without Borders

    C+. This is the grade assigned to the condition of our nation’s parks, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 Report Card on America’s Infrastructure.Every four years ASCE evaluates public parks as part of the nation’s vital public infrastructure (which earned a D+ overall). The report included this frank assessment about our parks:
  6. 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.
  7. Upgrading Wastewater Biogas to Clean Energy

    Wastewater management has come a long way since the time untreated sewage was simply discharged into rivers and canals.Today, modern municipal wastewater treatment plants trend towards using anaerobic digesters to stabilize and break down biosolids and typically flare biogas created during the process.
  8. What to Do with 325 Million Tennis Balls Per Year

    In the grand scheme of things, old used tennis balls don't get a lot of attention. There aren't billions of them bobbing like plastic bottles in vast ocean cesspools. They don't litter every empty lot in every U.S. city like single-use plastic bags. But, when they start to lose their bounce, inquiring minds begin to wonder:What the heck can we do with the 325 million tennis balls that go flat every year?
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Taking the Fuel Out of Wild Fires

    Springtime is the right time for federal fire managers to conduct prescribed burns to reduce the threat of summer wildfires at Oregon’s Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland. The schedule for these burns depends on weather conditions, air quality, moisture tests of fire fuel and the staff to do the prep work for the prescribed burns.“A lot of people and a lot of analysis goes into one prescribed burn,” said Patrick Lair, public affairs officer with the U.S. Forest Service in Prineville, Ore.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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:
  19. 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.
  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. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. A Little Wastewater Change Produces a Lot of Savings

    Communities frequently begin energy efficiency projects with lighting or mechanical system upgrades in public buildings, or by looking at the fuel efficiency of their vehicles. However, one of the largest energy consuming operations in most cities is often a missed opportunity:Drinking water and wastewater treatment systems.
  25. Marin County App to Track Sustainability

    SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- A partnership of 16 jurisdictions in Marin County has launched a new interactive sustainability tracker illustrating progress being made by local governing bodies, residents and businesses toward reducing emissions and increasing sustainable practices.The Marin Sustainability Tracker includes 12 metrics gauging a community’s level of consumption and implementation of sustainability measures related to energy, waste, transportation, water and greenhouse gas reductions.
  26. Winter Bike Commuting Racks Up Miles

    Biking is not just for summer commuting. As bicyclists – and the cities they live in – are discovering, getting around on two wheels works when there’s snow on the ground too.It just takes a little planning.
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