Giving Compass’ Take:
• Nate Berg lists six ways that cities can work inexpensively to become more sustainable and adopt programs that are environmentally-friendly.
• How can donors play a role in pursuing a citie’s sustainability goals?
• Learn more about how city developers are thinking about equity when developing sustainable cities.
Bold environmental goals are becoming a hallmark of city governance. Across the U.S., cities are unveiling clean energy plans, climate targets, sustainability road maps and other aspirational programs to guide themselves into a more environmentally friendly future. Making these kinds of plans, it seems, is relatively easy. Paying to achieve the goals they set, especially in resource-strapped communities, can be a major challenge, though.
But environmental goals don’t have to be expensive moon shots. Rather, there are many small steps cities can take to reduce their environmental impacts. Some can even help out a city’s bottom line. “There’s a lot of things that directly pay off,” says Cooper Martin, director of sustainability and solutions at the National League of Cities.
Some efforts may take time and others might require up-front investments. But there are programs and policies cities can implement today that can have a positive environmental impact without breaking the budget. Below are a few.
- Building Retrofits Replacing windows, lighting, or heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can result in significant and long-term savings in energy and resource costs.
- Zoning Changes “In the U.S., most cities finance themselves based on property taxes. They need that value. And rezoning to allow for more density, to allow for different kinds of mixed-use development that uses infrastructure more efficiently is really important,” says Martin.
- Speed Limits Simply lowering speed limits by just a few miles per hour can result in significant emissions reductions.
- Environmentally Friendly Purchasing Purchasing policies can be written to ensure city purchasing is less harmful for the environment.
- Paper-Free Policies Saving money and reducing environmental impact can be as simple as eliminating unnecessary printing.
- Dedicated Funds “A lot of the environmental services are essential services,” he says. “They’re hard to pay for, but at the end of the day people find a way to pay for water and wastewater treatment.” So they should be able to pay for services that benefit the environment, too, Hughes says.
Read the full article about six things cities can do to become more sustainable by Nate Berg at GreenBiz.
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