Sustainability

  • Sustainability 101

    Sustainability can appear to be an overwhelming topic, encompassing the intersections of many issues. 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.

  • Climate Change

    While cities contribute a sizeable amount of the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, local governments are increasingly leading the way in finding innovative solutions for a prosperous, sustainable, low-carbon society.

  • Economic Development

    Sustainability initiatives can catalyze economic growth and yield important benefits for cities over the short and long-term, such as direct financial savings, increased quality of life, job creation, and attraction of private investment.

  • Energy

    Local governments have become important and innovative partners in efforts to reduce overall energy use, increase efficiency, and transition to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources.

  • Green Buildings

    One of the most visible and important ways cities are demonstrating leadership in sustainability is through the incorporation of green practices across the built environment, encouraging upgrades to existing facilities and more efficient design of new construction.

  • Municipal Operations

    Through policies and programs that give preference to locally-sourced and/or environmentally preferable products and equipment cities have unique and important opportunities to promote sustainability from across internal operations

  • Health

    Healthy communities enable residents to enjoy a high quality of life and economic productivity, with connections to a wide range of issues from air and water pollution, to food systems, to active living

  • Planning, Land Use, and Community Desgin

    Local governments can play an active, responsible role in fostering the design of the built environment in ways that further each community’s priorities and vision.

  • Transportation

    A sustainable transportation system enables the convenient mobility of people and the efficient movement of goods while limiting environmental impacts.

  • Water

    A sustainable urban water system provides clean water to residents, protects the natural environment from contamination, and prevents future water shortages.

  • Water

    While some regions face serious obstacles to the future of their water supply and others do not, this nation’s aging water infrastructure system requires all communities to look at the state of their water supply and explore ways to address it. Investing in water infrastructure and ensuring the safety of water are two of the main priorities local governments are facing. In 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated a funding gap approaching 23 billion annually between current local investment in aging and failing water infrastructure and what it will cost to meet new federal mandates. NLC is working with its partners to identify ways to be a resource for its member on water infrastructure issues.

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.  NLC promotes the "triple bottom line" definition of sustainability, encompassing the intersections of environmental stewardship, economic prosperity, and social responsibility.  For local governments, sustainability can be used as an organizing framework to comprehensively plan and evaluate their activities.  NLC supports these efforts by serving as a catalyst to action and source of information for local officials, while serving as a national resource on the efforts of America’s local governments.