Lecture Notes

Below are general class discussion notes covering sustainable resources by region.

U.S. Cities / States / Regions

Coalition of N.E. states

  1. Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Cap and trade system for CO2.
  2. 9 state compact, 7 states have ratified.
  3. Essentially an implementation of Kyoto in this region. New Jersey is aiming for a less substantial target.
  4. Initial implementation for power system only.
  5. Idea is to help all achieve goal by allowing trading of allowances.

Sustainable Pittsburgh

  1. Non-government organization.
  2. Focus is on education and community outreach. Trying to influence government through mobilization of affected people.
  3. In depth analysis of local sustainability issues. Monitoring is an important action of the group.
  4. Climate change is part of a broad range of sustainability indicators.


  1. Regulation of new power installations: must emit 17% less CO2 than the best similar installation in the U.S. Requires stack burning and / or some CO2 sequestration to achieve.
  2. No new power plants in Oregon in last 30 years.


  1. Visions that stand out:
    • Natural resources are used wisely.
    • People, plants, salmon and other animals thrive in a healthy ecosystem.
    • Rewarding work supports families.
  2. Have values for the employees of the Office of Sustainable Development.
  3. Aims at 10 percent CO2 below 1990 levels by 2010.
  4. Boasts its public transportation (75% growth), recycling rate (50%), renewable energy as 10% of electricity, planting of trees, weatherization of buildings.

Nebraska / Iowa

  1. Carbon sequestration program: encouraging agricultural practices that trap carbon in the soil.
  2. Essentially encourages no-till farming (no plowing of plant debris before planting). Carbon is trapped in soil as "humus". Limits soil erosion and reduces the need for fertilizers.
  3. Downside: dramatic increase in use of chemical pesticides.
  4. PPI: Carbon Cash Crop

Los Angeles

LA has its own program (the City's Energy Climate Action Plan) which will reduce air emissions by: retrofitting buildings to improve energy efficiency; buying energy produced from renewable resources; using alternative fuel vehicles in the City's fleet and bicycles for patrol functions; expanding waster reduction and recycling efforts; managing traffic flow by adjusting traffic signal timing; and planting trees.

The City's Energy C.A.P. plan projects a decrease in emissions by 30% from 1990 levels by 2010. They promote a "lead by example" way of action rather than a more proactive way of changing the emissions patterns of the community itself.


Cambridge joined the Cities for Climate Protection alliance in 1999 which includes over 600 local governments world-wide. Their initiatives include: green buildings, energy management, alternative fuels and vehicles, transportation demand management, urban forestry, and waste management. The City has also developed a policy stating that all new construction and major renovation building projects will be "green buildings" as defined by the USGBC's LEED system.

Sustainable Seattle

  1. A non-profit organization.
  2. Raises awareness, develops tool for monitoring, and fosters dialogue.
  3. Targets urban centers, urban sustainability.
  4. Promotes local spending. Measured by local multipliers.

Austin Sustainable Communities Initiative

  1. Targets individuals in the areas of building and construction, food, neighborhood, home energy, indoor air quality, landscaping, local economy, smart shopping, life style, transportation, waste reduction

Boulder Area Sustainability Information Network

  1. Local community service network offering public access to environmental information.
  2. Environmental monitoring, information management, public access infrastructure.
  3. Develops education and communication programs.
  4. Facilitates greater public involvement in public policy formation.

U.S. National

The Smart Communities Network (Part of DOE)

  1. "Energy Smart Communities"
  2. Offers "menu of information and services" (technical and financial resources).
  3. List of codes and ordinances that communities have used to implement sustainable development.
  4. Case studies of: overview, land use planning, transportation, green buildings, community energy, rural issues, sustainable business, green development, disaster planning, measuring progress, air quality, water efficiency, materials efficiency.

Citizens Network for Sustainable Development (CitNet)

  1. Connecting, educating, and acting to make real the Earth Summit's vision.
  2. Projects: Campaign for national leadership of sustainability, Citizens Guide to the World Summit on Sustainable Development.


  1. Detailed report card on city quality of life combined with indicators of sustainability programs, policies and performance.
  2. Also a community resource to healthy and sustainable living.
  3. Found that many cities themselves had not found a way to look at the various pieces of information as an integrated system.
  4. Boston: #1 in zoning and transportation, but very bad in tap water quality and energy/climate change policy.

Redefining Progress

  1. Scenarios for Sustainability (S2) toolkit.
  2. Adapting elements of two well-known sustainability indicators to the local level.
  3. The Ecological Footprint (EF).
  4. The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) (adds in the economic contributions of household and volunteer work, but subtracts factors such as crime, pollution, and family breakdown).

SustainUS: Youth Network for Sustainable Development

  1. Proactive education and advocacy at the policy-making and grassroots levels.

Institute for Local Self Reliance

  1. Researched the feasibility of communities generating a significant amount of wealth from local resources.
  2. Initial focus: Adams Morgan: with rooftop hydroponic gardens and solar collectors and a commercial basement sprout operation and composting toilet.

European Cities / States


  1. Camden City Council - London
  2. Croydon Borough - London
  3. Numerous UK Local Authorities (Between them York, Leeds, Colchester, and Hampshire) through Sustrans
  4. Specific features:
    • Very focused on campaigns and user's education: local municipalities have small budget moreover the peculiarity of UK local authorities is that they have small leverage on "public services" (especially public transport) because of the 80s privatization reform.
    • Often target young people (pupils, students) for instance with school travel plans.
    • Assessment and indicators are described.
    • Local authority Web sites make explicit reference to Sustainability, Global Warming, Agenda 21. They normally have a strategic plan or at least a set of rough sustainability guidelines.
    • Municipalities are normally linked to network for sustainable development.


  1. Big concepts = climate change, better future, future gen.
    • Campaigns for energy consumption, waste management, education.
    • Shape consumer behavior.
    • Include indicators.

Italy - Bologna

  1. Bologna Municipality - Energy System Bologna; Restriction of Automobile Traffic in the Historical Centre City (PDF); The Planning of An Urban Energy Reduction Scenario
    • Bologna's projects: Cogeneration, car access restriction to the city centre, clean vehicles (bus and municipality fleet), soft mobility management initiatives (workplace travel plans), dedicated bus lines.
    • Specific features: Starting with initiatives that involve the municipal services (municipal fleet) and progressively involving other public services.
  2. More focused on the environment and the "visible" impacts of emissions (air quality, damages to the artistic patrimony).
  3. Lack of strategic documents for sustainable development in the City Web site.

Austria (Linz)

  1. Specifications
    • Air Quality
    • Climate Change
    • Transnational Alliance
    • Focus on Climate as a Target
    • District Heating
  2. Specific focus on
    • Air Quality
    • Climate Change/Global Warming
    • Policy Integration
  3. Actions
    • Formed transnational alliance (Climate Alliance of European Cities with Amazonian People), made Climate Protection Initiative.
    • Focused on climate specific targets.
    • Focused on district heating systems: capacity (use of heating derived from industrial waste) and gave grants (to put necessary infrastructure in place to use energy alternatives).
    • Ran public relations campaigns aimed at getting households/businesses to switch to alternative energy sources.
    • Instituted local bans on purchase of chemicals harmful to atmosphere.
    • Supported rain forest protection projects.
    • Set goal of 50% reduction of CO2 emissions in the community or a 15% reduction by 2000.
  4. Outcome
    • Emissions reductions in nearly every area 70% reduction in dust, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide emissions due to measures in heavy industry.
    • Winner of 5 Milestones Campaign competition for energy savings and greenhouse gas reductions (1997).

Netherlands (Utrecht)

  1. Urban Development, on environment.
  2. Compact city (as indirect strategy/ hitching?).
  3. Parking, land use planning.
  4. Strategically select transportation as a an issue to solve (in general) networking, education, how to work with other people.
  5. Outreach to central/eastern Europe.
  6. Just a small country, cannot make an impact by itself, so tries to get the neighbors involved.

U.S. / EU Comparison

The EU local authorities seem to be more active and investing more (in terms of money and political capital) than local authorities in U.S., more focused on informational campaigns, toolkit and volunteer citizens' actions.

It also seems that seldom American local governments promote local initiatives that can limit citizens' freedom (restricted access to city centers or dedicated buses lines).

This difference could be linked to the fact that U.S. didn't ratify the Kyoto protocol therefore the public administrations have less stringent obligations toward sustainable development. Moreover 80% of the European population lives in urban area were the effects of pollution are more evident therefore European citizens are probably more aware of environmental problems (although there is a big difference between North and South European countries).

The role of the European Commission and especially the new regulations on air quality could also have been a spur to act.