Ideas from Other Areas
Kansas City’s 10,000 Rain Gardens program is a public/private initiative with the goal of reducing the runoff that pollutes waterways by planting rain gardens using native plants. The program protects water quality and also reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and increased citizens’ awareness that they could personally help improve water quality.
Chicago will close its two inner city coal power plants – one by December 2012 and the other by 2014. Mayor Emanuel negotiated the shut down agreement signed by Chicago; the city’s utility, Midwest Generation; and the Chicago Clean Power Coalition, which has lobbied for this action for over two years. The Chicago Clean Power Coalition argued effectively that the inefficient coal powered plants caused major pollution.
Chicago has approved zoning code provisions designed to promote the expansion of community gardening and urban farming within city limits. The provisions expand the size limit on community gardens to 25,000 square feet, relax fencing and parking requirements on larger commercial urban farms in order to hold down overhead costs and allow for hydroponic and aquaponic systems and keeping honey bees. The objective is to turn available empty lots into viable, productive green spaces. Urban farming of fruits, vegetables and fish is now permitted in Chicago.
Chicago planted a rooftop garden on city hall which, on average, is seven degrees cooler than surrounding roofs on a year-round basis and as much as 30 degrees cooler in summer. The city offered ten $5,000 grants to help residents and small businesses finance the planning installation of green roofs. By the end of 2006, there were more than 250 public and private green roofs totaling more than one million square feet under design or construction in Chicago.
The Empire State Building in New York City was awarded LEED Gold for Existing Buildings in September 2011. The energy efficiency retrofit process included in the building’s $550,000,000 renovation incurred an incremental cost of approximately $13.2 million but will result in substantial savings. Projected energy reduction of 38% will provide annual energy savings of $4.4 million, a payback of only 3 years based on the incremental cost. And the large plus for a huge building is that the building’s carbon emissions should be reduced by 105,000 metric tons over 15 years. Two other pluses are (1) that the building’s investors bought approximately 55 million kilowatt hours of carbon offsets making the building carbon neutral for 2011 and (2) that the retrofit designers made their analytical model non-proprietary and open-source and thus available for application to other existing buildings.
New York City’s ambitious PlaNYC, launched in 2007, seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent of the 2005 level by 2030, while handling a population increase to 9 million. One component of that reduction is expansion of solar power and Mayor Bloomberg recently announced that New York City has already tripled its production of solar power by completing the installation of panels on City-owned buildings across the five boroughs. The 10 projects increase the City’s total solar production to 648 kilowatts – enough to power 143 households – and will cut 205 metric tons of carbon emissions.
Due to damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, New York City’s launch of its bike share program has been postponed from March to May 2013. Approximately 293 stations and 5500 bicycles will be placed in Manhattan, south of 79th Street, and in parts of Brooklyn. There are three types of membership:Annual membership, which is expected to cost $95; 7-day membership, which is expected to cost $25; and One-day membership, which is expected to cost $10. Membership will cover the first 30 to 45 minutes of each trip; longer trips will incur overtime fees. The program will be expanded during the rest of the year.Greensgrow Philadelphia Project is a nationally recognized center for the research, development, and dissemination of urban agricultural technology. Located on a former Brownfield site in north Philadelphia, Greensgrow has become a remarkable example of the successful transformation of blighted, vacant property into green, productive and profitable enterprise. The Greensgrow model for success includes the use of relatively low capitalization and operating costs, innovative and effective growing systems and marketing strategies that are well-suited for the urban environment.
Salt Lake City started the e2Business program to recognize and support business owners that reduce resource consumption. Participants get free advertising under the e2business brand, free consultation and media credits.
Olympia's current comprehensive plan has Putting Sustainability into Action as one of the City Council's four primary goals. To help implement this goal its Sustainability Super Team has developed a decision making model, the Sustainable Action Map, to help assess the impacts of any decision on the community as a whole. The model, creates a matrix of four components of sustainability - Natural, Individual, Community and Economy, which must be in balance to proceed; each component is assessed for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats resulting in a Stoplight indicator red, yellow or green. The City is implementing Imagine Olympia, a three year review and update of the current plan. The updated plan is expected to be adopted early in 2013.
Seattle joined several other cities such as San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Portland OR, which have voted to ban single-use plastic bags from grocery stores. Seattle’s ban also applies to department, clothing, convenience, and home improvement stores. For customers, who do not bring reusable bags, stores may provide paper bags for a mandatory fee of five cents that reimburses the retailer for them. Customers on food assistance are exempted from the bag fee. A significant factor leading to the ban was the low rate of recycling for plastic bags – 13 percent as opposed to 82 percent for paper bags.
Sydney Water, a statutory State-owned corporation, provides drinking water, recycled water, wastewater services and stormwater services to the people in the greater Sydney area. It is perhaps the best example of an integrated sustainable water system in the world.
Curitiba, Brazil is looked upon by urban planners and environmentalists around the world as a role model for city planning. Anchored on enlightened transportation policies,the city has combined substantial growth with sustainability.