Sustainability Update: North American Cities

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

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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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