Sustainability Policies and Best Practices

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  1. The Big (Green) Apple

    New York City is sometimes called the Capital of the World, the City of Dreams, or the Big Apple, but officials in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s sustainability office would like the city to be known as something else: no less than the most resilient, equitable and sustainable city in the world.And, they have a plan to make that happen.
  2. Upward Mobility Depends on Where You Live

    Children born in a low-income neighborhood whose families then relocate to an area with better opportunities can experience much-improved earning potential in adulthood than had they not relocated.While this data might encourage disadvantaged people to move to better neighborhoods, it could also help low-opportunity neighborhoods learn how to get better, the researchers say.
  3. Minneapolis Invests in 'Green Zones'

    Actively fighting climate change since 1993, Minneapolis was one of the first cities in the world to adopt a framework for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Today, the city remains a leader in sustainability with an emphasis on bringing environmental justice to its most vulnerable neighborhoods.The city’s goal to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2015 was exceeded by two and a half percent. It’s now on pace to reduce emissions 30 percent below 2006 levels by 2025, though many more significant changes are needed (including decarbonization of building heating systems) to achieve its ultimate goal of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050.
  4. Americans Want to Live in Healthy, Sustainable Communities

    At first glance, cities like West Palm Beach, Fla. and Carmel, Ind. may seem worlds apart. But though they are separated by more than 1,000 miles and a vast array of social, political and economic differences, these two cities have one thing in common: they are both leaders in America’s new climate movement.And they are not alone.
  5. What Saves Lives, Money and Ecosystems?

    Environmental policy guided by science saves lives, money, and ecosystems. So reports a team of 11 senior researchers in Environmental Science & Policy.Using air pollution in the United States as a case study, they highlight the success of cleanup strategies backed by long-term environmental monitoring.
  6. Communities Find Quality Daycare is No Child's Play

    Finding a job, a safe place to live, and reliable transportation would seem to take care of life's big-picture necessities for most people… unless you’re a parent with young children.That's when quality child care often leaps to the top of the list.
  7. Salt Lake City Commits to Zero-Carbon Power Plan

    Things are heating up in Salt Lake City, Utah. And not in a good way.The city is located in a region of the U.S. that climate scientists say is warming at more than twice the national average. It would be bad enough if the only victim of that problem was the area’s $1.3 billion ski resort industry, but local leaders know the stakes are higher than that, as water reserves decline and air quality reaches dangerous levels.
  8. Corporate Giants Help Plano Grow

    In the northeast corner of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, Plano, Texas is an economic hub and headquarters to some of America’s biggest companies, including such recognizable brands as Capital One, Toyota, Frito-Lay, Dr. Pepper/Snapple and J.C. Penney.In 2016, Fannie Mae and JP Morgan Chase announced they would move their regional operations to Plano, bringing a combined 7,000 new jobs.
  9. Planning for Environmental Justice

    Urban and regional planners customarily focus on developing land use plans and programs to accommodate growing communities, keeping in mind social, economic and environmental realities.Now a law in California shaping how planning is carried out requires another element to be considered: Environmental justice.
  10. The Financial Risks of Climate Change

    The U.S. municipal market has always faced credit exposure to weather-related and natural catastrophes – such as fires, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes.However, what were previously viewed as one-off implications for creditworthiness – transitory storms, for example – can increasingly be analyzed through the lens of climate change risk. As such, there are possible risks faced by U.S. municipal issuers as a result of a rapidly changing climate.
  11. Green Shoots in the U.S. Bond Market – But Still a Sapling

    As market interest continues to mount in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and water conservation measures, U.S. cities and states are witnessing substantial reductions in their environmental footprints, as well as an ongoing mass transformation of the generating grid.In order to finance this green transition, many municipalities across the country are taking advantage of the green bond as a form of financing.
  12. COP23: Two Degrees, With Separation

    In contrast to the euphoric Paris conference of 2015, where 195 countries agreed to limit global warming below two degrees Celsius, the 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany was a more subdued event.After a year of multiple extreme weather events around the world, some delegations expressed their growing sense of urgency for action, particularly small island states and developing countries.
  13. Revitalize Downtowns with 'Maker' Economy

    Technological and economic changes have created new opportunities in small-scale manufacturing and the “maker” economy, which present a chance for communities to make progress on several important economic development issues.Small-scale manufacturing can grow local entrepreneurship and small business, develop or enhance new and existing economic sectors, and revitalize downtowns and business districts, according to a new report by Smart Growth America.
  14. EPA Continues Transformation Under Trump

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its "final report" on how it plans to implement President Trump’s executive order curbing environmental regulations in order to promote energy production and economic growth.Required by law to issue a request for public comments when considering changes to environmental regulations, the EPA reported receiving more than 460,000 comments, including a record-breaking 63,346 individual responses.
  15. Community Gardens: Equity, Equality, Eggplant

    Community gardening isn't undertaken for the health and well-being of squash and tomatoes. Rather, it is all about the people who otherwise have limited access to fresh, nutritious foods.That's why groups in Madison, Wis., and Douglas County, Kan., have focused on developing food systems that include community gardening and that make equity a central part of their framework.
  16. Red County, Blue City Work Together on Climate Resilience

    The Greater Kansas City area is known for the state line that divides its two metropolitan parts between Kansas and Missouri. There are many other borders: county lines, city limits and political stripes.It’s the latter that makes action around climate resilience seem insurmountable at times, but a coalition has come together to develop a strategy.
  17. Reducing Speed-Related Crashes

    Speeding — exceeding a speed limit or driving too fast for conditions — is one of the most common factors in motor vehicle crashes in the United States.In this safety study, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) examines causes of and trends in speeding-related passenger vehicle crashes and countermeasures to prevent these crashes.
  18. Campaign Seeks to Lower the Voting Age in Local Elections

    In most U.S. states, 16- and 17-year-old citizens are considered old enough to drive on local roads, work in local businesses, attend local schools and pay local taxes.Now a nationwide campaign is pushing to give these young people the right to vote in local elections as well.
  19. Senate Bill Protects Transit, TIGER and Community Grants

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved the fiscal year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The bipartisan bill makes investments in infrastructure, provides funding for economic development projects and helps to meet the housing needs of the nation’s most vulnerable individuals and families.The bill reflects a total allocation of $60.06 billion in discretionary spending, $2.4 billion above the current funding levels, and $12.1 billion above the President’s request.
  20. Nashville Welcomes All Its Rowdy Friends

    Like the country music that made it famous, the city of Nashville, Tenn., has been through some changes in recent years.Just as the “Nashville sound” of Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline gradually gave way to the more raucous and glitzy contemporary country music of Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift, so has the city itself gone from a quiet little town of less than 180,000 in 1960 to one of the fastest growing urban centers in the South, now with more than 650,000 people and an estimated 85 to 100 more arriving every day.
  21. The Best Complete Streets Policies

    As of the end of 2016, more than 1,000 jurisdictions in the United States have made formal commitments to streets that are safe and convenient for everyone — no matter their age, income, race, ethnicity, physical ability, or how they choose to travel — by passing a complete streets policy, according to a new report issued by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition.More communities passed these policies in 2016 than ever before.
  22. Bitter Reaction as Trump Bails on Climate Accord

    The sustainability community erupted with nearly universal dismay, outrage and resolve in the face of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement late last week. But few were really surprised.After all, Trump was merely making good on another campaign promise, pitting his administration against the 71 percent of U.S. citizens who believe climate change is a clear and present danger, and joining only the countries of Syria and Nicaragua in defiance of the accord, which was signed by nearly 200 nations.
  23. Lean Urbanism Recalls a Simpler Time

    Over the last several decades, real estate developers and urban designers have watched building code books swell from the size of small booklets to the size of dictionaries.Some say the increase in regulations has been essential to protect life, limb and property. Others think politics, special interest groups and neglect have supplanted common sense to create a hopelessly complex array of outdated, expensive and unnecessary mandates that serve to push small developers out of the marketplace altogether.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
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