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Sustainable Development Update
August 16, 2017

Sustainable Development Focus

U.S. cities increasingly focused on resilience, but funding challenges persist

Urban Land - Aug 14 The increased emphasis being placed by cities on embedding resilience into their land use and development policies was the topic of the 2017 Resilient Cities Summit co-hosted in Stowe, Vermont, by ULI, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Green Building Council. The consensus of the participants, including mayors and other public officials representing 24 U.S. cities, along with representatives from the academic and business communities, is that the most effective plans going forward will emphasize public/private initiatives and encourage greater collaboration with the real estate industry. Attendees noted how resilient approaches to infrastructure and development provide long-term economic benefits for cities by safeguarding their real estate assets and tax base, supporting business continuity after adverse events, and protecting residents. Public officials at the summit also emphasized the need for more funding sources, noting diminished federal and state support for resilience programs and stretched local budgets. 

Bay Area cities dominate United Nations sustainability list

KQED - Aug 14 The Bay Area is home to two of the most sustainable metro areas in the country, according to a new study put together for the United Nations. The San Jose-Santa Clara-Sunnyvale area topped the list, and the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area came in fourth. The San Diego-Carlsbad area and the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura area landed spots five and eight, respectively, giving California more cities on the list than any other state. Using public, published data, the index measured how well cities met the 17 U.N. sustainable development goals, which include: zero hunger, no poverty, quality education, affordable and clean energy, and industry, innovation, and infrastructure.

Solar helps innovative Los Angeles affordable housing project earn LEED platinum

Proud Green Building - Aug 9 Selma Community Housing, a residential development in Hollywood featuring 66 affordable family homes, has achieved LEED for Homes platinum certification, according to a press release. Playing a key role in the designation, officials said, was a solar water heating system that offsets 42 percent of the annual energy consumption for water heating, a savings equivalent to avoiding burning 12,000 pounds of coal or 1,300 gallons of gasoline each year. The transit-friendly site, developed by Abode Communities on land owned by the Los Angeles Unified School District, is adjacent to Selma Elementary School, and will provide much needed affordable housing for LAUSD teachers and employees, officials said.

Sonoma County businesses go green to get into black

The Press Democrat - Aug 13 Local businesses in Sonoma County across all sectors are embracing the concept of sustainability amid the realization that going green, besides having a positive impact on the planet, can also bring their bottom line into the black. Santa Rosa businesses as varied as Keysight Technologies, Redwood Credit Union, and Amy’s Kitchen all offer up evidence that even small changes in their operations can have a significant impact on the environment. Executives at these companies note that sustainability practices are now integral to their mission, especially as scorecards on corporate behavior now provide investors insight on whether a firm is behaving appropriately in every aspect of business, from sourcing to labor rights.

Oregon wastewater plant hits net zero energy, saving $50,000 for municipality

Energy Manager Today - Aug 8 A wastewater treatment plant in Gresham, Oregon, has reached net zero energy consumption. In 2005, the plant installed a biogas generator, which allows the facility to convert methane gas into energy. In 2010, the plant installed a 1,900-panel solar array to add to the facility’s renewable energy initiatives. Then, in 2012, the plant began accepting restaurant waste, which includes oil and grease. The facility harnessed this energy by turning sludge into biogas. According to, this particular move helped double the facility’s production of biogas and eventually helped push the plant towards its goal of net zero energy. Since the implementation of energy efficient measures, the plant has gone from a monthly energy bill of $50,000 to $0. The Gresham wastewater treatment plant is the second plant in the U.S. to reach net zero energy.

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