Local governments can play an active role in fostering the design of the built environment in ways that further each community’s priorities and vision. This responsibility has been shouldered by cities for thousands of years, and can range from large undertakings such as comprehensive plans to more narrow initiatives enhancing quality-of-life. By engaging the entire community, local governments can find strategies and solutions that lead toward a sustainable future.
Case Study: Combining Urban Forestry with Youth Employment Opportunities (2011)
A healthy urban tree canopy has been associated with environmental and economic benefits such as reduced heating and cooling costs, low-cost stormwater management and aesthetic value and comfort. This case study highlights how an urban forestry initiative in New Haven, Conn. has brought together multiple city departments, a community based non-profit and an area university to also generate social value by creating workforce development opportunities for youth and the formerly incarcerated.
Healthy People, Healthy Places - Building Sustainable Communities Through Active Living (2011)
The ways in which we shape our built environment-including the range of transportation options, provision of open space, and accessibility to places of work, education, or basic services-contributes to the physical health of our communities by either restricting or facilitating opportunities for physical activity, recreation and community interaction. Local leaders play an important role in promoting public health through creating the conditions for individuals to incorporate healthy options into their daily lives. This guide explores several ways that cities are incorporating options to promote active living and emphasize the multiple connections to sustainability principles.
Partners for the Future: Public Libraries and Local Governments Creating Sustainable Communities (2010)
This report from the Urban Libraries Council profiles the significant role of public libraries in achieving sustainable communities, and provides examples of how a strategic relationship between the library and the local government can become a powerful partnership for addressing all facets of sustainability's triple bottom line.
Creating Green Affordable Housing (2009)
By capitalizing on funding for green affordable housing practices, city officials can incorporate sustainable building design into public housing developments, resulting in lower energy bills for residents, a reduction in pollution and landfill waste, and improved occupant health, comfort and productivity. This guide provides strategies and action steps for planning, financing and building affordable, sustainable housing, and highlights the experiences of nine cities.
Local Roles in Integrating Transportation and Land Use (2008)
Transportation planning tends to occur at a regional scale, while land use authorities are vested primarily with local jurisdictions. Given the intrinsic connection between transportation and land use, the best to route to improving quality of life is to ensure that regional and local perspectives are mutually supportive. This guide provides local officials with strategies and action steps to help foster the integration of transportation and land use.
Events and Webinars
Local governments leveraging LEED for Neighborhood Development
(Webex presentation with audio; also available in pdf)
Efficient land use and community design principles are critical components of building strong neighborhoods and sustainable cities. This joint webinar by NLC and U.S. Green Building Council provides an introduction to LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) a new rating system that looks beyond the single building footprint and focuses on improvements at the neighborhood scale. Designed for sustainability staff, planners and economic developers, this webinar will demonstrate how LEED-ND can be integrated within local plans and regulations to support community sustainable development goals. For more information about LEED-ND, created specifically for a local government audience please visit http://www.usgbc.org/ndlocalgov or check out the Local Government Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development.
Nation's Cities Weekly Articles
Cabinet Secretaries Discuss Livable Communities, Issues Important to Cities (March 22, 2010)
The heads of the three White House Cabinet agencies which founded the federal Livable Communities Initiative addressed the 2010 Congressional City Conference.
A Local Perspective: Boulder Attracts International Attention for Open Space Program (December 7, 2009)
Boulder, Colorado Councilmember Matt Appelbaum shares insights on a local program which "demonstrates that people and nature can coexist in a successful and vibrant urban environment."