Farewell Blog Post

I've decided to take a new opportunity with the green building consulting firm Viridian so today is my last day at the City of Fayetteville. The good news is that I get to stick around Fayetteville and continue working in the sustainable development field; something that I'm very passionate about.

When I first came here in 2007 the focus was almost exclusively on energy efficiency in government buildings and the need to pay for my position through energy savings. Over time it has evolved into something with a broader focus and a department by itself - Sustainability & Strategic Planning.

I have been really fortunate to work with a great group of people at the City and two mayors that are incredibly passionate about it. I've interacted with 90+ sustainability directors across North America through the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and I can tell you that no other director has more access to the top levels of the administration. That's a tribute to the residents of Fayetteville and their demands that it be a high priority, and it's a tribute to the elected officials of the community, Mayor Jordan and City Council, for having the vision to make it a priority. For all of those reasons, I've been very blessed to have this opportunity and it's not one I will forget.

Already we have received a tremendous amount of interest in this position; some of which are more qualified than I am. I'm confident that whoever fills this role next will be able to jump right in and continue impacting the Fayetteville community in a positive way.

Special thanks to Kristina Jones and Leif Olson for making a great team. It's been a fun ride!


John Coleman
Southface and the Sustainable Cities Institute partnered with the City of Fayetteville last year on a $500,000 grant towards low impact development, affordable housing, and trail development in the community. Check out a recent blog post from SCI and the progress that has been made.
The Milken Institute released its annual survey of best performing metropolitan areas. The Fayetteville Metropolitan Statistical Area (Northwest Arkansas) jumped seventeen spots from #43 to #26 amongst large metro areas. Little Rock jumped all the way from #93 to #19. 

Sustainability Plans and Planning


San Diego adopts first sustainable communities strategy: After more than two years of public outreach, input and comment, the San Diego Association of Governments recently approved the first Regional Transportation Plan in California to contain a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). Read More


Climate Action


Cities and global warming - San Francisco's experience: In this reaction Andrew Ross' New York Times OpEd ("The Dark Side of the 'Green' City" - featured in last week's USDN Weekly Update), Melanie Nutter of San Francisco writes that her city's experience shows that it's possible to reduce greenhouse gases while also cutting pollution in economically stressed neighborhoods. Read More


Boston's Green Ribbon Commission launches website: The Boston Green Ribbon Commission is a group of business, institutional and civic leaders in Boston working to develop shared strategies for fighting climate change in coordination with Mayor Menino's Climate Action Plan. It recently launched a website to share its progress. Read More 




Cincinnati voters clear the way for streetcars: Cincinnati voters have (again) defeated attempts to block the city's new streetcar, which now will move forward and could be operational as early as 2013. Read More


L.A. Vision, U.S. Promise: Implications of the America Fast Forward proposal: This article by Allison Brooks and Darnell Chadwick Grisby of Reconnecting America looks at how Los Angeles has emerged as a leader in transit investments, providing forward-thinking leadership for how infrastructure finance can and should continue, even in difficult financial times. Read More 


How Manhattan sped up its buses: NYC officials issued a report last week highlighting the successes of select bus service that has been in place for the past year on 1st and 2nd Ave.  The select bus service is more efficient than the City's regular bus service, thanks to the pre-boarding fare payment and use of dedicated lanes. Read More


Green Buildings


Toronto may ease green roof rules on new buildings: Under an alternative bylaw recently approved by Toronto's planning and growth management committee, new industrial buildings and building additions may be able to meet green roof requirements if they are covered in "cool" materials (i.e. reflective and limit surface temperatures) - a cheaper option favored by industrial building developers. Read More


Public Engagement


Citizen 2.0 report highlights social media innovation successes: The report looks at 17 examples of social media and government innovation, including Vancouver's Greenest City project and NYC's Simplicity Idea Market project. Read More


Cars and Parking


San Jose shares smart streetlight technologies: The City of San Jose has been asked to serve as the Lead Agency in the Bay Area Next Generation Streetlight Initiative, under which the City would lead the product procurement process for a regional group purchase, and to establish financing and purchase terms to encourage or accelerate the adoption of LED lighting by public agencies. The City also serves as the Chair of a technical task force on remote monitoring and adaptive controls organized by the U.S. Department of Energy's Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium. USDN member Jo Zientek has shared the City's agreement LED streetlight conversion on the SCI website. Read More


Tolls thin traffic in Bay Bridge carpool lanes: According to a study by UC Berkeley transportation researchers, toll changes on the Bay Bridge have cleared out carpool lanes and improved traffic speed when the bridge is most congested. Read More


Energy Efficiency


Maui testing ground for smart grid pilot project: A neighborhood in Maui has been chosen for a smart grid pilot project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of a nationwide set of demonstration projects. 200 Participants will have access to smart grid technologies that will provide more information on, and control over, how and when energy is used. The project is led by the Maui Electric Company (MECO) and the University of Hawaii's Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) in partnership with eight other organizations, including Maui County. Read More


Renewable Energy


Utility Fights Power Purchase Agreement in Iowa: The city of Dubuque, Iowa, had to rescind a power purchase agreement with its solar contractor, Eagle Point Solar, in October when its public utility said the PPA violated the monopoly provisions of the state's utility regulations. This article looks at the issues involved when states have vague or non-existent laws related to PPA's. Read More



USDN Member Top Rated Recent News Item from Last Week

In Phoenix, the Dark Side of Green: In this New York Times Op-Ed, writer Andrew Ross looks at the challenges faced by Phoenix, in trying to become "Green," in spite of the Mayor's commitment to the challenge. The vast inequalities of the metro area could blunt the impact of his sustainability plans. He notes the disparity between the greening of high income and low income areas in Phoenix and writes: "If policy makers end up focusing on "greening" those areas that can afford the low-carbon technologies associated with the new environmental conscientiousness, the movement for sustainability may end up exacerbating climate change rather than ameliorating it." Read More

WalMart & China

Interesting read about how WalMart is improving China's environmental track record.

The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic)
11/10/11 8:00 PM
How Walmart is transforming China's environmental standards theatln.tc/tSb6Nd #longreads

Green Pinkies Update

Awhile back I wrote about a mother/daughter team here in Fayetteville doing a green home renovation project. Well, now there is an opportunity to help them garner some recognition for their efforts!

They're up for a Energy Value Housing Award and need your help! See the video below and then click on the website link to vote. Their house is #7 on the list.

In fall 2009 the City of Fayetteville received $724,900 in grant funds through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. We identified five project categories for how the funds would be spent.

At the this year's December 6th City Council meeting the last project item will go forward and will complete the City's grant requirements. Below is an updated list of how the funds have been spent or obligated to projects:

  • Energy Retrofit of City Buildings ($240,363.71) - Retrofitted the Police Department, Water & Sewer Operations, Fire Stations #1, #4, and #6 with an assortment of heating and air conditioning, lighting, and duct sealing upgrades. We are also set to plant some trees at a couple of fire stations that have strong southern exposure to the summer sun.
  • Community Revolving Loan Fund ($265,000.99) - The City hired Treadwell Institute to serve as the project manager for retrofitting three non-profits in Fayetteville. The funds were available to any non-profit in the community that applied and also met one of two criteria: 1) Had positive cash flow last year 2) Had positive savings in their bank account. In the end, Mt Sequoyah Retreat Center, Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, and the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce were awarded funds. Projects include heating and air conditioning, window, insulation, and lighting upgrades as well as LED lighting for the Botanical Garden.
  • LED Trail & Sidewalk Lighting ($156,301) - Purchased 160 LED lights along Scull Creek Trail, Frisco Trail, Block Avenue Street Renovation, Scull Creek Tunnel, U of A Farm Trail, and around the Fayetteville Public Library. The expected payback on these lights is approximately seven years. On average the LEDs are about 60% more efficient and last five times longer than conventional lighting.
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory ($9,000) - Paid a student from the University of Arkansas graduate program and an Energy Corps member to develop an inventory of all municipal operations. This inventory will help the City determine where key investments in energy efficiency can be made going forward
  • Solar on the District Court Building ($39,205.43) - Hired Rocky Grove Sun Company to install a 6.8 Kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on the LEED Gold District Court Building. To date the City has received over $14,000 in rebate funds from the Arkansas Energy Office for this project.
Remaining funds will be used for LED lights along the U of A Farm trail if approved by City Council. The City is also expecting rebate funds from AEP/SWEPCO for the building retrofits and solar PV system on the District Court. These funds will also be spent on energy efficiency related projects going forward.

As you can see the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program has allowed the City to do some conventional energy efficiency projects on existing facilities as well as expand our scope to look at emerging technologies such as LED lighting and solar PV. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about the projects (jcoleman@ci.fayetteville.ar.us).

John Coleman
Sustainability & Strategic Planning
City of Fayetteville, Arkansas


Crop Mobs This Week

For Immediate Release


October 19, 2011                                                             


Contact:  Kristina Jones

Sustainability & Strategic Planning Department





Community Gardens Across Fayetteville Need

Volunteers Tomorrow, October 20

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - October is National Hunger Awareness month and host to National Food Day (16th) and World Food Day (24th).  Feed Fayetteville has declared this a "Month of Action" and in celebration the Fayetteville Community Garden Coalition (FCGC) is partnering with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and Feed Fayetteville (ff) to facilitate an afternoon of "crop mobs" on Thursday, October 20, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.  This will be a great chance for you to help out at one of Fayetteville's many community gardens.


Please check out the links below for details:

·        Head Start garden - http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=247920865258067

·        Mt. Comfort community garden - http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000842887022#!/event.php?eid=276243589062565

·        Happy Hollow Elementary - http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000842887022#!/event.php?eid=279752768709795

·        Cobblestone Farm - http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000842887022#!/event.php?eid=300663463281115

·        OMNI Peace Center garden- email Steven at stevenskattebo@hotmail.com


Thanks for your participation!

The City of Fayetteville is a member of the Fayetteville Community Garden Coalition (FCGC). The FCGC is an alliance of Partners, Gardens and Friends who work cooperatively to assist residents, groups and institutions to create community gardens. Other partners include local institutions, non-profit organizations and businesses.


From the Fayetteville Community Garden Coalition:

You may not know, but October is a significant month on the food calendar, as it is National Hunger Awareness month and host to National Food Day (16th) and World Food Day (24th). Feed Fayetteville has declared this a "Month of Action" and in celebration the FCGC is partnering with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and Feed Fayetteville (ff) to facilitate an afternoon of "crop mobs" on Thursday, October 20, 2-4 p.m. This will be a great chance for you to accomplish some tasks at your garden in a short amount of time with several helping hands. Please check out the flier link below for details. If you have any questions feel free to write Charity Lewis, at charity@chickenmoonfarm.com, or visit http://fayettevillegardens.org/wp/?p=525 to download a registration form.

The Fayetteville Community Garden Coalition (FCGC)
Good article from The New Yorker on the history of federal investment in energy markets.

The nuclear-power industry was effectively created by the government in the nineteen-fifties, and probably could not exist today without government guarantees. The coal industry was heavily subsidized during the nineteenth century. And the oil-and-gas industry has received tax breaks and allowances worth billions of dollars a year for more than half a century--to say nothing of the implicit, but incredibly costly, subsidy that oil producers have received in the form of the Fifth and Sixth Fleets.

The New Yorker (@NewYorker)
10/4/11 8:15 AM
The failure of solar co Solyndra, which Obama Admin invested in, "isn't reason for the gov't to give up on alt energy": http://t.co/DdMGpff8

Sent from my iPhone

We just finished a year's worth of energy production with the District Court's solar panel installation. From October 2010 thru September 2011 the panels produced 11,001 kilowatt hours (kwh). During that same period my house, which is 1,800 sf and built in 1888, produced 10,352 kilowatt hours.

The project cost was $39,900 and the City receives a $1.50 per kwh rebate from the state for one year. It was financed using Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funds. If we were a private residence we would also be eligible for a 30% tax credit. This would put the project at an 11.5 year payback.

From a pure economic standpoint that payback period would make sense, but in order to get there these subsidies must exist. This begs the question, why subsidize solar or any other renewable energy projects and what other benefits come with renewable energy?

The freedom of never paying an electricity bill is one. The idea of being able to put electricity back on the grid would be amazing. Having a home that produces zero carbon and perhaps charges your car (electric vehicles are here!) would solidify your personal independence and bring value to the community. Check out the previous post on the military's investment in alternative energy if you don't believe me.

Distributed generation is also a strategic plus for our country. With power plants you have concentrated sources of energy that can be disrupted by a storm, mechanical failures, rolling blackouts, or terrorist attacks. Having multiple energy producers makes the grid more resilient which will be of even greater importance going forward.

Military & Energy

If you haven't read today's article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (via the Washington Post) about the military's investment in alternative energy then you should stop and take a moment to do so. In short, the market says oil is cheap, but it doesn't account for the lost lives of our military men and women. See below.

Military changes way it uses energy


    PATUXENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION, Md. -- With the Navy's Blue Angels and their F/A-18 Hornets arrayed in a neat line behind him, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that they would perform in the Labor Day Air Expo using a 50-50 mix of a plant-based biofuel and conventional fuel.
    "It's part of our process to move to alternative energy all across the Navy," Mabus told reporters gathered on the sun-baked runway before him on Sept. 1. "The main reason we're moving toward alternative fuels in the Navy and the Marine Corps is to make us better war fighters."
    As the nation's single biggest energy consumer, the Pentagon has many reasons to want to diversify its fuel sources. Mabus and others said the move toward alternative energy is about national security and assured sources
of supply.
    In addition, with oil supplying 80 percent of the military's energy, the effect of price fluctuations ripples quickly through the system. Each $1 increase in the price of a barrel of oil adds more than $30 million a year to the Navy's energy costs, officials said.
    So the Pentagon is pressing ahead with an ambitious program to change its energy use. Its spending on renewable energy increased 300 percent between 2006 and 2009, from $400 million to $1.2 billion, and it is projected
to reach more than $10 billion annually by 2030, according to a report issued last month by the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate.
    The Defense Department has pledged to obtain 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025.
    In doing so, it has provided a new target of opportunity for environmentalists and "green" businesses now that climate legislation has failed and renewable-energy subsidies have come under fire, most recently with the collapse of solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra.
    But Mabus said he is more focused on the fact that a Marine is either wounded or killed for every 50 convoys of fuel brought into Afghanistan than on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

    "That's just too high a price to pay," he said in a phone interview, adding that when it comes to lower carbon emissions, "It's a good byproduct, but it's a byproduct."
    While the military's goals promote energy independence, it remains unclear how much some of them will cut greenhouse gas emissions. Navy guidelines dictate that the advanced biofuels it will buy cannot pollute more than petroleum, but they do not say the Navy needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a specific amount.
    Several of the Pentagon's goals don't apply to theaters of military operations, where it uses heavy and inefficient equipment such as tanks, some of which average less than a mile per gallon.
    Mabus has outlined a series of ambitious goals for the
Navy and Marine Corps, including ensuring that 50 percent of the services' energy supply comes from alternative energy such as biofuels and solar power by 2020, cutting fossil fuel use by its noncombat vehicles in half by 2015 and reducing fuel consumption on ships 15 percent by 2020.
    Other branches have more modest energy goals. The Air Force aims to use alternative aviation fuels for half its domestic aviation needs by 2016, and cut total aviation fuel use 10 percent by 2015.
    The scale of the military's energy consumption, along with its purchasing power, gives its policies tremendous effect.

    And in many ways, the military is better positioned than other branches of government to address such long-term challenges as energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
    "One thing the Department of Defense is really good at is risk management and longterm strategic planning," said Bob Barnes, a retired Army brigadier general who now focuses on the intersection between conservation, energy and national security as a senior policy adviser to the Nature Conservancy.
    The Pentagon began discussions about its dependence on fossil fuels and the potential risks associated with climate change with its allies during President George W. Bush's administration, and it has continued to talk strategy with top military officers in
Britain and elsewhere.
    "On both sides of the Atlantic, we've recognized there are new sets of energy threats and challenges that we face," said Rear Adm. Neil Morisetti, the climate and energy security envoy for Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its Defense Ministry, during a recent visit to Washington.
    Not all of the Pentagon's renewable-energy projects have gone smoothly. Last month, the Energy Department announced a conditional commitment to back a $344 million loan for a $1 billion project to install solar panels at 160,000 locations on 124 military bases throughout the country. But in late September, Solar City, the company that won the contract to put in what Energy Secretary Steven Chu described as "the largest domestic residential rooftop solar project in history," announced it would not
meet the Sept. 30 loan guarantee deadline.
    The delay could imperil the project.
    Some question whether the government should be financing such projects rather than allowing the free market to determine whether the technologies succeed or fail.
    Jack Spencer, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, asked why "the Pentagon has to be compelled to engage in those programs with mandates and forced spending. ... Leading a green revolution is not a legitimate mission for our armed forces."

Picture six on this slide show looks eerily familiar...

9/29/11 2:04 AM
The best, worst, and strangest cell phone towers disguised as trees http://t.co/1bfVEv7E

Sent from my iPhone

Biomimicry in Cities

This is a futuristic look at biomimicry in cities. Interesting read.

UT Built Environment (@UT_BuiltEnv)
9/22/11 5:26 PM
Biomimicry in our cities http://t.co/GgEuXSVn

Rankings and Awards


Breaking New Ground: Promoting Environmental and Energy Programs in Local Government: A recent report by the IBM Center for the Business of Government presents findings from an International City/County Management Association (ICMA) survey, which asked questions regarding sustainability initiatives.  While over 80% of localities reported initiatives in the area of recycling, transportation, and building energy use, adoption rates were much lower for other sustainability initiatives such as alternative energy generation and workplace alternatives. The sustainability efforts of USDN Member Sarasota County, FL are highlighted in one of eight local government case studies. Read More


Lowering Costs and Finding New Revenue Sources


Asheville LED Street Light Case Study: One-third of Asheville's 20% carbon footprint reduction target will be met by the City's program to replace all 9,000 of the City's street lights with energy efficient LED fixtures accounts.  In a case study prepared by John Cleveland for the USDN Innovation Working Group, Maggie Ullman, Energy Coordinator for the City of Asheville shares her City's successful strategy.  Read More


Sustainability Plans and Planning


Washington D.C. Metropolitan Region on path to sustainability: In light of the recent Greening Greater Washington conference which took place earlier this month at the Smithsonian Museum, Neal Peirce of the Washington Post Writers Group examines the region's green accomplishments and great potential for a sustainable future. Read More 


How to build a greener city: In an article for the Wall Street Journal, journalist Michael Totty asks the question: Can cities be part of the environmental solution instead of part of the problem? He seems generally surprised that the answer is yes. Read More


Sustainability Partnerships


Vancouver's CityStudio: Starting this fall, an expansive course network of students and instructors from Vancouver's six public Universities and Colleges will embark on a long-term collaboration with the City to implement Vancouver's Greenest City 2020 sustainability goals. The initiative, known as CityStudio Vancouver, aims to be an energetic hub and center for sustainability education by creating the world's most innovative inter-institutional campus/city collaboration for learning and implementation of urban sustainability strategies. Read More




DOT partners with Greater Denver to create jobs, add transportation options, and boost development: The US DOT recently committed $1 billion to Denver's Eagle P3 commuter rail project, a 30-mile, two-pronged commuter rail project that will create 4,700 jobs, ease congestion, and bring real transportation choices to the Denver metro region. Read More


Biking and Walking


In bicycle friendly D.C., going car-free is increasingly common: Thanks to alternative transportation options like Zipcar and the Capital Bikeshare program, more than a quarter of the households in D.C. are car-free, compared with 6 percent of homes regionwide. Slightly fewer than half of D.C. households own one car. Regionally, 64 percent have two or more vehicles. Read More


NYC residents asked for suggestions on locations of new bike share stations: New York City officials recently announced a new bikeshare system that will be available to New Yorkers starting in 2012. The City is reaching out to the public to determine locations for 600 bikeshare stations that will be located throughout the City. The city is aiming for an intensive community process, working with residents, business owners, community boards, elected officials and other stakeholders. Read More


Water Resources and Usage


Stormwater becomes art in new Toronto park: Housed in the pavilion basement at Sherbourne Common, a new park in the city's rapidly developing East Bayfront area, Toronto's treatment facility cleans collected storm and lake water with ultraviolet (UV) light. The treated water is then sent underground to the north side of the park where it is released through three nine-metre-high art sculpture towers. The water flows from the tops of the towers down metal mesh veils and into a 240-metre-long water channel, or urban river, where it then flows into Lake Ontario. Read More


Carbon Emissions


Mayor Bloomberg releases annual PlaNYC citywide greenhouse gas inventory and kicks-off Climate Week NYC 2011: In his opening ceremony remarks, Mayor Bloomberg noted that citywide greenhouse gas emissions were down 12 percent since 2005 and the City government's emissions were down nearly five percent in the last fiscal year. Read More

The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal has a Green Office Awards contest with an application deadline of TOMORROW. Plenty of time if you're a procrastinator like me.

There will be winners in five categories:
  • Greenest Office: Any company embracing sustainability not just through energy efficiency and conservation practices, but by product and/or services innovation and employee behavior.
  • Best Collaboration: Any entities partnering to reduce their impact on the planet while simultaneously boosting profits and/or cutting costs and providing consumers a better product and/or service.
  • Vendor Award: A vendor with a physical presence in Northwest Arkansas that uses energy efficiency, conservation practices, innovation or employee behavior - or any combination thereof - to give consumers a better product while also boosting profits and/or cutting costs.
  • Sustainability Champion: An individual who is making our corner of the world a better place to live through efforts to make us a more eco-friendly society.
  • Best Initiative: Any volunteer program - within a company, nonprofit group or social group - that promotes sustainable practices.

To nominate, go to:
The International City Managers' Association plugs the Fayetteville Public Library in its latest article about libraries serving as "town squares."

Traffic Safety Study

Interesting article sent to me from Leif Olson at the City.

This is an article out of the Atlantic on a couple of researchers who have looked at traffic safety as it relates to street patterns in a couple dozen California cities. Surprise, the traditional grid is safer than suburban cul-de-sac development patterns.

Water Quality Trading

More and more people are identifying water as more of a commodity and less of a right. Here's an article that moves the needle further in that direction.

SCI (@SustCitiesInst)
9/19/11 9:57 AM
This market-based approach to controlling pollution will now be tested as a mechanism to improve water quality... http://ow.ly/6ym3R

The note below is from Fayetteville activist/educator Louise Mann. Looks like an interesting read.

Beginning Sunday, September  18 at 2:00 the Fayetteville Public Library will be hosting a Climate Change Book Series. The books will vary in content from those with a science background to ones with a layperson's perspective. McKibben's book, the September read, is a good orientation for those new to the topic.

The November book is written by a mother discussing how to run a household on this new Eaarth. What happens to grocery prices when food crops are subject to frequent and severe flooding and drought? What happens when insurance payouts can't keep up with claims?

The book discussion will be complemented by information regarding actions you can take now on everything from lifestyle to legislation. As with any crisis there is opportunity. The people who are smart enough to get educated about climate change and make appropriate plans for their families, their businesses, and their communities will be the winners on this new Eaarth.


Covering the game changing discussions that are taking place in the realm of sustainability. From the impact of the City of Fayetteville's decision to switch its fleet to biodiesel to Paul Stamet's research in the Pacific Northwest on how mycelia...

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