US Cities Sustainability Update

Sustainability Plans and Planning

 

Omaha moving forward with Comprehensive Energy Plan: Omaha's 2011 Comprehensive Energy Management Plan, being finished in late 2011, will provide the framework and implementation strategy for effectively managing the city's use and supply of energy now and into the future. A recent survey of Omaha residents shows that they view renewable energy sources positively and are willing to take steps to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy in the city. Read More

 

Ann Arbor receives $50K for regional sustainability network: The City of Ann Arbor recently received a $50,000 grant from the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality to continue the Michigan Green Communities Network, a partnership of Michigan cities focusing on sustainability within their boundaries. The majority of the funds will be used to hire a graduate student to facilitate the network, with the balance going towards a sustainability conference for city staffers and partner universities, says Matthew Naud, environmental coordinator for the city of Ann Arbor. Read More

 

Biking and Walking

 

San Francisco could require bicycle access in downtown buildings: Commercial buildings in downtown San Francisco could be required to provide indoor bicycle parking accommodations under a proposal introduced at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting. The legislation would be modeled after a New York City law which yielded an estimated 1,764 indoor parking spots just five months after being enacted in 2010. Read More

 

Green Spaces

 

Minneapolis tree canopy mapping: The University of Minnesota recently completed a study for the City of Minneapolis to map the tree canopy coverage of the entire city, as well as other ground cover such as impervious surface and other vegetation.  The study also estimates the impact of potential additional tree cover.  The study found tree canopy covers 31.5% of the city, which is greater than previous estimates.  This information is available down to the parcel level. The City of Minneapolis is working on additional projects based on the canopy cover study to prioritize and quantify tree planting for energy efficiency and stormwater management.  Read More

 

PhillyTreeMap - Crowdsourcing the urban forest: PhillyTreeMap is a web mapping application that solicits citizen input, similar to the successful OpenStreetMap. Robert Cheetham started the project two years ago when he won a government grant for the idea. Since then, PhillyTreeMap has grown to encompass a database of over 144,000 Philadelphia trees and an open source code base which Cheetham and his company, Azavea, are making freely available to other cities.  Read More

 

'Parkmobiles' bring taste of nature to urban San Francisco: First there were parklets, clearings placed on top of parking spaces. Then there was the Powell Street Promenade, a set of eight aluminum eddies that widen San Francisco's busiest pedestrian thoroughfare. Now say hello to "parkmobiles" - portable landscapes in red steel bins 6 feet wide and 16 feet long, intended as a shot of mobile nature offering passers-by visual relief from asphalt and concrete. There will be six such pieces arrayed on blocks around Yerba Buena Gardens, each with a different horticultural theme. Read more

 

Energy and Efficiency

 

Boulder installs first public electric vehicle charging stations:Earlier this week, Boulder's first two public electric vehicle charging stations were made available to drivers of plug-in cars to rent for $1 per hour. Joe Castro, Boulder's facility and fleet manager, said he expects to have 40 charging stations installed throughout Boulder by June 2012. Half of the stations will service city-owned vehicles, while the other half will be available to the public to charge personal vehicles. Boulder is paying for the equipment though a $500,000 federal grant. Read More

 

Sacramento reduces permit fees for smaller solar projects: Starting this week, residents looking to install small-scale solar projects could save up to 60 percent on permit fees.  The change is part of the city's new program Sacramento Streamline, aimed to simplify the building and permit process. Depending on the size of the solar project, customers may qualify for a flat permit rate of $280, down from the previous average fee of $724.  Larger-scaled projects will continue to have fees based on valuation of the equipment and labor costs, but a similar flat fee in being developed for these types of projects as well. Read More

 

Carbon Emissions

 

Fort Collins among top cities in cutting carbon emissions: The city's carbon-dioxide emissions shrank by 11 percent between 2005 and 2010.  During that same time period, Fort Collins' population grew by 13 percent and its regional gross domestic product grew more than 4 percent. City officials have calculated that, since 2005, emissions from electricity, natural gas and vehicles dropped 5 percent; per-capita use of electricity dropped 9 percent; and waste sent to the landfill dropped 45 percent, while the community waste-diversion rate increased 43 percent. Read More

 

U.S. cities prepare to adapt to climate change: While some members of Congress debate the scientific validity of climate change, these U.S. cities are going beyond efforts to mitigate it with lower greenhouse gas emissions. They're at the forefront of an emerging trend: adaptation. Read More

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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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