Sustainability is a defining issue of our time, based on the need to make informed and responsible decisions to meet today’s challenges while also considering future implications. For local governments, sustainability can be used as an organizing framework, encompassing the “triple bottom line” intersections of environmental stewardship, economic prosperity, and social responsibility. A number of guides and tools are available to help cities, whether they're new to sustainability and looking to get started, or more experienced and looking for the latest information.
Waste Reduction: Strategies for Cities (2011)
The collection, transportation, and disposal of municipal solid waste (MSW) presents considerable costs to local government, poses threats to public and environmental health, and when landfilled or incinerated results in a permanent loss of valuable materials. Across the country local governments are addressing these challenges through innovative, cost-effective, and responsible strategies to divert waste from landfills, recover and repurpose valuable and/or toxic materials, and even generate revenue and support local businesses. This guide presents four options that cities may consider to reduce MSW and benefit their communities.
CitiesSpeak Blog: Making it go "away" - Waste reduction strategies for cities
State of America's Cities: Sustainability (2010)
This executive summary offers preliminary results of the first national survey on sustainability performed by the National League of Cities. The survey generated responses from 442 cities, with significant representation from all regions of the country and all population sizes. The results confirm that sustainability has become a priority of the nation's local governments.
Sustainable Cities: 10 Steps Forward (2010)
This Municipal Action Guide is a resource for cities to help develop and strengthen their sustainability initiatives. The guide presents a sampling of discrete action items divided across ten issue areas, and applicable across cities regardless of population size, geography, or level of experience with sustainability initiatives.
Measuring Matters: Strategies to Track, Manage, and Disclose Data from Sustainability Initiatives
It's been said - 'you can't manage what you don't measure' - and for many sustainability initiatives the value of measuring, tracking and disclosing economic and environmental impacts associated with programs and policies has never been greater. Quantifiable information can help cities demonstrate the value of their sustainability investments, identify opportunities to cut costs and even attract private funding to support efforts. In this session learn about three specific strategies cities can use to manage resources, measure success, track data and disclose results: resource conservation managers; building rating and disclosure; and city-led sustainability metrics. Experts will present an overview of each topic and then facilitate small-group discussions to provide participants an in-depth look at these strategies.
Moderator: Jonce Walker, Sustainability Manager, Maricopa County
- Karen Messmer, Senior Project Manager, Washington State University (WSU) Extension Energy Program
- Cliff Majersik, Executive Director, Institute for Market Transformation
- Michael Bacich, Assistant General Manager, Sustainability Officer, City of Riverside, California
Additional Resources and Handouts:
- WSU's Energy Extension Program: Resource Conservation Management
- Green Riverside
- Riverside's Green Action Plan
- Sustainability Matrix - Used to track progress on the City's goals internally
- Sustainability Workbook - Designed to assist Riverside's citizens reduce energy, waste, water and transportation using local programs
- Green Action Workbook
- Institute for Market Transformation: Building Rate and Disclosure
- Benchmarking Policy Factsheet for Local Governments
- IMT-ICLEI Commercial Energy Policy Toolkit
Star Community Index
The Star Community Index, currently under development, will create a national, consensus-based framework for defining sustainability and gauging the progress of U.S. communities. The index is intended to transform the way local governments set priorities, implement policies and practices, and measure and certify their achievements. NLC is a founding partner in this national effort, along with ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Center for American Progress.