Sustainability Update: US Cities

New USDN Member News




New Blog - Northeast Regional Electric Vehicle Partnership Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston have created a blog on the Sustainable Cities Website to chronicle their efforts in encouraging the early adoption of Electric Vehicles. Read the blog here or subscribe here


Green Economic Development


Seattle Wants to Be World's Green Building IT Hub The Seattle area's lead economic development agency is aiming to make Puget Sound the world leader in certification for energy-efficiency building IT. In a recently released plan published by Brookings, Seattle-area business and governmental leaders propose the creation of the Building Energy-Efficiency Testing and Integration (BETI) Center and Demonstration Network. This would allow efficiency innovators to test, evaluate and integrate promising products and services before launching them to market, the report said. The strategy was inspired in part by Seattle's concentration of green architecture firms and strong policies on green buildings. Read more  


Sustainability Offices in Government Operations


Memphis and Shelby County Launch Joint Sustainability Office When Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell launch their joint office of sustainability this week, it will be the latest move in a continuing realignment of both local governments. The office will carry out the "Sustainable Shelby" plan developed in 2008 to further green initiatives in the city and the county outside Memphis. The recommendations in the plan range from incentives for reclaiming properties in existing neighborhoods to converting the local government fleets to alternative energy or hybrids to watershed management strategies. Read more




Study: Local Public Transit Options Attract Summer Tourists According to the American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) Green Travel Forecast, the association's annual travel survey, 54 percent of summer vacationers heading to urban destinations will use the local public transportation system to get around during their stay. In addition, 65 percent say public transportation played a role in their destination choice. New York City, Philadelphia, and LA topped the list of cities where visitors were influenced by public transit options. Read more


DC Metro Adding More Hybrid-Electric Buses to its Fleet The "New Flyer Xcelsior XDE40" is an updated version of Metro's diesel buses, some of which are 15 years old. The new buses are supposed to break down less frequently and be more fuel efficient, getting more than 5 miles to the gallon versus 3.8 miles per gallon now. Some of Metro's older buses break down every 3,000 to 4,000 miles, officials said. On average, a single Metrobus drives about 100 miles a day. The transit system has an $89.3 million contract with New Flyer of America, based in Winnipeg, Canada, to buy 152 of the hybrid-electric buses for $571,737 each. Read more 


Biking and Walking


Denver Completes Off-Street Cycle Track with Complete Streets Policy Mayor Guillermo (Bill) Vidal announced improvements the city has made to advance bicycle mobility in the Mile High City. Highlighted in the announcement was the completion of Denver's first "cycle track;" a new bicycle facility that designates space for bicyclists off the street and adjacent to the sidewalk. Also announced today, was the adoption of a Complete Streets policy. As part of that policy, Denver Public Works will integrate the practice of promoting safe and convenient access for all users of the transportation network into plans, manuals, rules and regulations and programs. Read more, click here for images of Cycle Track


Green Buildings


Boston to be Home of Nation's Largest Affordable Housing Complex Retrofit Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Sean Donovan and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino awarded a $6.7 million green building grant to an affordable housing development in Boston's South End in order to retrofit the building with energy saving improvements. The Castle Square development, a 500-unit, tenant-owned affordable housing complex built in the 1960s, is the largest affordable housing complex in the country to conduct such a retrofit. Yesterday at a tour of the site, Donovan said $14 billion came to HUD in the Recovery Act; almost a third of which will be used to make the nation's public and assisted housing stock green. Read more 

Seattle Launches Building Energy Disclosure Program Seattle commercial buildings will have their energy performance benchmarked and energy ratings available to prospective buyers, tenants and lenders, under an initiative launched earlier this month. Upon request, building owners will be required to release building energy performance information to any current or prospective tenant, buyer, or lender involved with a real estate transaction, a lease, or an application for financing or refinancing of the building. Owners must also authorize the City of Seattle to download annual energy performance data for each building. Read more

Climate Change Adaptation

Chicago Prepares for a Warm, Wet Future Climate scientists have told city planners that based on current trends, Chicago will feel more like Baton Rouge than a Northern metropolis before the end of this century. So public alleyways are being repaved with materials that are permeable to water. The white oak, the state tree of Illinois, has been banned from city planting lists, and swamp oaks and sweet gum trees from the South have been given new priority. Thermal radar is being used to map the city's hottest spots, which are then targets for pavement removal and the addition of vegetation to roofs. And air-conditioners are being considered for all 750 public schools, which until now have been heated but rarely cooled. "Cities adapt or they go away," said Aaron N. Durnbaugh, deputy commissioner of Chicago's Department of Environment. Read more 


Global Cool Cities Alliance Launches Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA) has formally launched to accelerate a worldwide transition to highly reflective, cooler, and healthier cities.  Its mission is to advance policies and programs that increase the solar reflectance of our buildings and pavements to promote cool buildings and cool cities. GCCA has secured five founding members of its planned 100 Cool Cities network-Athens, Chicago, New York City, San Jose, Singapore, and Taipei. Read more


Sustainability Plans and Planning


Arlington County Approves Visionary Energy Framework Arlington County, VA, has reached a milestone in its long-term energy planning vision, which will boost economic competitiveness as it fights climate change and ensures reliable energy sources for its community. On May 17 the Arlington County Board approved a Community Energy Framework that includes 18 energy strategies and recommendations, and directed the creation of a final Community Energy Plan to slash 10 metric tons of GHG emissions per capita by 2050 -- which will reduce the County's overall energy use by nearly 75 percent. Read more


Cars and Parking 

Boston to Offer EV Charging Stations around City Hall By putting the stations in a high-profile location, the city hopes to encourage drivers to abandon gasoline-powered vehicles and adopt the emerging electric option. For the regular $1.25-an-hour price of feeding the parking meter at three designated spots on Cambridge Street, drivers will be able to juice up their gas-free vehicles there for no additional cost. "The idea with these three charging stations is to get a sense of how they are used,'' said Veneet K. Gupta, the director of policy and planning for the Boston Transportation Department. "In the long term, we want to explore a citywide program. But we want to do that so it's timed with the market as more and more people are buying electric vehicles.'' Read more

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