Category: Sustainable communities

Throwing nitrogen out with the stormwater: UConn Extension educator, team helps coastal communities reduce runoff pollution

Read the full story from the University of Connecticut.

A team of UConn researchers is training students and providing coastal municipalities in Connecticut with green infrastructure plans to reduce stormwater runoff.

Chicago exploring organics and textile recycling, commercial waste zones through new strategy

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

Chicago officials on Wednesday released a formal waste strategy for the city, which is thought to have one of the lowest recycling rates among major U.S. cities at around 9%. There are dozens of near- and long-term recommendations regarding policy, operations, community efforts and more.

Unlike some cities, Chicago is not setting a specific waste diversion target at this time. “We did not set a goal because I think for us this is a roadmap to move to a better direction,” said Chief Sustainability Officer Angela Tovar. “I think it would be a big leap to go from the current rates that we have here in the city of Chicago and then to jump all the way to zero waste without talking about the interim steps in order for us to get there.”

According to documents, another next step in the strategy is to research “potential for implementing waste hauling zones for commercial waste,” an approach New York City and Los Angeles have taken. Other ideas include bolstering organics collection by adding food scrap collection to yard waste routes, and establishing a revenue-sharing partnership with a textile recycling company for collecting clothes, shoes, and other textiles.

Biden has a plan to remove some freeways. Will it make cities more healthy?

Read the full story in the Los Angeles Times.

Mandela Parkway, a four-lane boulevard enhanced by a median with trees and a curving footpath, stretches along a 24-block section of West Oakland. It’s the fruit of a grassroots neighborhood campaign to block reconstruction of an elevated freeway leveled by the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 and reimagine the thoroughfare to replace it.

Since the parkway’s 2005 completion, 168 units of affordable housing have sprung up along its route. The air is measurably freer of pollutants than it was when the Cypress Freeway ran through the area.

federal report heralded the project as the type of socially minded renovation that can make appropriate, if partial, amends for the devastation wrought on low-income neighborhoods by the freeway-building boom of earlier decades.

Can Michigan become a climate haven? Duluth is already planning.

Read the full story at Bridge Michigan.

When Mayor Emily Larson first heard the hype about her city’s potential as a so-called climate haven — a place people will flock to as rising seas, drought, heat and wildfire make other regions less hospitable — “I thought it was bananas.”

But in the years since, Larson said, she has come to realize “it’s already happening.”

As climate change fuels dramatic changes that scientists say will make places in the West, South, and along the ocean coasts increasingly unlivable, the city has become a national poster child for the population shift that experts expect to see across the Great Lakes region, where milder climates and abundant fresh water could fuel immigration.

Democrats lay out vision for Civilian Climate Corps

Read the full story at The Hill.

A group of more than 80 House and Senate Democrats on Tuesday laid out their vision for a climate jobs program called the Civilian Climate Corps that is expected to be part of a sweeping $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill filled with Democratic priorities.

A new letter from Democrats spanning the ideological spectrum pushed for the program to prioritize natural climate solutions, clean energy, climate resilience and addressing environmental justice. 

‘The water is coming’: Florida Keys faces stark reality as seas rise

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Officials prepare to elevate streets despite financial shortfalls, amid recognition that not every home can be saved.

What’s the best way to help the climate and people, too? Home improvement

Read the full story at NPR.

Workmen have invaded Flora Dillard’s house on the east side of Cleveland. There’s plastic over everything and no place to sit, but Dillard doesn’t seem to mind. “A couple of days of inconvenience is nothing, compared to the results that you get,” she says.

She’ll benefit, and so might the climate. The workers have plugged cracks around the foundation and rerouted an air vent to reduce the risk that mold will form. They’re insulating the drafty upstairs bedroom, which was so cold that Dillard had resorted to multiple electric space heaters this past winter. They also discovered and fixed a gas leak. “I could have blew up,” Dillard says. “Me and my grandbabies and my brother who’s here visiting.”

She didn’t pay for any of this. She can’t afford to. But thanks to government and utility help, her house soon should be more comfortable, safer and cheaper to heat. She’ll burn less fuel, cutting down on the amount of greenhouse gases she sends into the air.

Cities are making COVID-era street changes permanent. Some are facing pushback.

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Paris barred most cars from the majestic road that goes past the Louvre Museum, then months later announced it would keep it that way. New York followed suit, making permanent a program that clears space on public roads for walking, biking and, in the case of 34th Avenue in Queens, Mexican folk dance classes.

In San Francisco, officials are weighing whether to keep part of John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park closed to cars, prompting a tussle among drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and a fine arts museum that lost easy public access to its facilities.

Leaders in other cities are pushing to do the same, seeing an opportunity to cement progress in making streets safer, more enjoyable and less polluting. The moves have also roiled long-running debates about the role of the automobile and the purpose of public streets.

In Washington, the D.C. Council in June appealed to the National Park Service to keep cars off a scenic stretch of Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park, a move also supported by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D). But one initial supporter of the idea, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), tapped the brakes after opposition emerged, showing the complexities of limiting car travel, even in a city where local and federal officials have sought to emphasize other modes of transportation.

Cities along Great Lakes will need $2B to address coastal damage: survey

Read the full story at Smart Cities Dive.

Cities, villages and other jurisdictions along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River face nearly $2 billion in costs over the next five years to address coastal damage driven by climate change, per survey results released last week by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI).

According to survey responses, 95% of city officials say they’re highly or moderately concerned about coastal damage and 99% said there has been a consistent or increasing public interest in the issues. However, only 27% of respondents said their staff was highly knowledgeable on coastal issues and just 11% said they had a “high level of capacity” to respond to coastal problems.

Jonathan Altenberg, executive director of the Initiative, said the survey results should send a message to federal legislators as they debate a comprehensive infrastructure plan that could direct more money and ease policy around coastal issues. “These are big issues, there’s a lot of infrastructure at risk here,” Altenberg said.

Study: Just 25 cities account for majority of global urban greenhouse gas emissions

Read the full story in The Hill.

Just 25 cities comprise more than half of greenhouse gas emissions from a sample of 167 urban centers, according to research published Monday in the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Cities.

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