The Case for Fixing the Leaks: America’s Crumbling Water Infrastructure Wastes Billions of Gallons, Dollars

November 18th, 2013

Great Lakes Region Urged to Adopt Improved Water Management Practices

Every day in America, we lose nearly six billion gallons of expensive, treated water due to crumbling infrastructure. Leaky, aging pipes and outdated systems are wasting 2.1 trillion gallons annually. That’s roughly 16% of our nation’s daily water use. Or, enough to swallow several major American cities whole: 

  • Cover Image IllustrationManhattan under 298 feet of water
  • Minneapolis under 172 feet of water
  • Cleveland under 122 feet of water
  • Milwaukee under 104 feet of water
  • Detroit under 70 feet of water
  • Chicago under 43 feet of water

The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a Chicago-based nonprofit focused on sustainable cities, today released a report titled The Case for Fixing the Leaks, part of a collaborative campaign focused on Great Lakes states, calling for leadership in improved water management.

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Like TOD Ordinance, Less Restrictive Zoning Can Help Chicago’s Lakeview Businesses

April 16th, 2015

CNT’s Kyle Smith is quoted in Streetsblog’s article about the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce’s concerns that restrictive zoning, car parking requirements, and changing household types may hinder growth in the high-demand neighborhood and negatively affect local businesses. The chamber, along with Special Service Area #27 (map), published a report this week [PDF] that shows that not only is Lakeview’s housing supply failing to keep up with population growth, it’s actually decreasing.

According to the new report, based on Census data compiled by CNT, the number of housing units within a half mile of Chicago’s Brown Line’s Southport and Paulina stations has decreased by two and four percent, respectively, between 2000 to 2011.

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Join us for an Earth Week Celebration in Chicago

April 6th, 2015

EarthDay2015 Mailchimp Header

CNT is leading the conversation about making cities more resilient in the face of climate change – and we want you to be a part of it!

Join us for an Earth Week celebration and expert discussion about how CNT is making cities more resilient for city dwellers and for the planet. This Earth Week, we’re thinking about how the future of the planet depends upon resilience—how people, communities, and cities can be prepared for and emerge stronger from climate-influenced stresses that affect environmental, economic, and social systems.

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Denver Business Journal: Denver Squeaks Into Top 10 for Transportation Affordability, But Still Pricey

April 2nd, 2015

Denver metro residents fork out about 49 percent of their annual income to housing and transportation costs, making access to public transit and nearby jobs a key factor to affordability.

That’s according to new data from the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s (CNT) Housing+Transportation (H+T) Affordability Index, a tool that factors in housing and transportation costs to rank metro areas for their cost-of-living.

“Compact and dynamic neighborhoods with walkable streets and high access to jobs, transit and a wide variety of businesses are more efficient, affordable and sustainable,” national research firm CNT said about Denver’s standing in the Index.

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Urbanism: Nothing to Fear

March 31st, 2015

by Scott Bernstein, CNT President

When the 9/11 attacks happened, all sorts of pundits started re-questioning whether cities should be decentralized, notably including Ed Glaeser. That questioning happened again after Hurricane Katrina and the continuing hurricanes along the Gulf Coast.

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The Houston Chronicle: Mapping “Location Efficiency”

March 31st, 2015

The price of your mortgage isn’t the only thing you need to look for when it comes to affordability.

The H+T Affordability Index gives realtors and potential homebuyers a good look at how much people are spending on both housing and transportation.

Though the golden rule of home buying is that you only spend 30 percent of your income on your yearly mortgage, it doesn’t take into account how much you’re spending in other necessary areas, like transportation and cost of living.

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TOD Talk Explores How Cities Can Work for All Ages

March 31st, 2015


Last week, over 65 people joined us at our office for a TOD Talk hosted by the Young Innovators, our associate board, and the Young Professionals in Transportation. The event featured a panel discussion on what can make transit-oriented development work for all ages. It featured expert panelists from three generations: Millennial Kyle Smith, CNT’s Economic Development Project Manager; Gen-Xer Andrew Vesselinovitch, Urban Designer and Project Manager at Ross Barney Architects; and Baby Boomer Jacky Grimshaw, CNT’s Vice President for Policy. The panel was moderated by Chris Dillion from Campbell Coyle Real Estate.

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Washington Post: When Cheap Housing Isn’t Really a Good Deal

March 26th, 2015

Check out this item in the Washington Post about CNT’s recent update of the H+T Index, which has an interactive map consumers (and government officials) can use to calculate this affordability in 200,000 neighborhoods in the U.S., covering about 94 percent of the U.S. population. The tool is part of CNT’s mission to promote the idea of “location efficiency.”

If your home is located relatively close to your job, your children’s school and your grocery store, all your travel is going to be more efficient. Places that aren’t as efficient, on the other hand, entail much higher costs in gas, time and car payments that make the cost of living higher than we often realize.

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HUB2 screenshot

Smart Transit-Oriented Development is Starting to Catch on in Chicago

March 25th, 2015
Photo by John Greenfield/Flickr Creative Commons License

Photo by John Greenfield/Flickr Creative Commons License

by Kyle Smith

CNT commends Blair Kamin for his excellent article on transit-oriented development (TOD) in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune. He focuses on the new apartment building at 1611 W. Division, across from the Milwaukee/Division Blue Line station, that does not include a parking garage. Kamin’s article does an excellent job of highlighting an issue that the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) has worked hard on advancing smart TOD.

In 2013, CNT published a report on TOD in the Chicago Region that showed that between 2000 and 2010 the number of housing units around transit stations increased more slowly than in neighborhoods away from the system.  This contrasted dramatically with other regions with extensive legacy transit systems – places like New York, Boston, and the San Francisco Bay Area – which sprawled less and grew around transit more.

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Study Shows Chicagoans’ Commutes are Getting Longer

March 25th, 2015

According to a Brookings Institution study, the distance between jobs and the people who need them is growing in the Chicago metro area. CNT President Scott Bernstein joined WBEZ’s Afternoon Shift to discuss the report’s findings.

Listen Here 

CNT Ranks Regions for Transportation Affordability with Updated H+T Index

March 23rd, 2015

March 23, 2015

CHICAGO – Even though gas prices are down, costs for transportation are still high. How much we spend is based on where we live, according to data gathered by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) through the new version of its groundbreaking Housing and Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index.

Within regions, costs vary greatly from place to place depending on access to jobs, transit, walkable compact neighborhoods, and a wide variety of everyday destinations. CNT ranked large and mid-sized metropolitan areas in the United States to show the average transportation cost for a household earning the national median income ($53,046), with the national average household size (2.63) and a national average number of commuters per household (1.13). The average transportation costs for the National Typical Household provide cross-region comparisons based on the built environment and not household income or makeup.

According to the rankings, the New York City region came in 1st, with the Chicago and Washington DC metro areas coming in at 2nd and 3rd respectively or metropolitan areas of a million or more. For a full list of rankings CLICK HERE.

CNT, a national urban sustainability and economic development nonprofit, created the iconic H+T Index and ranked metropolitan areas in the nation to show the true cost of living when accounting for transportation spending.

Launched in 2006, the H+T Index offers helpful comparison maps for 200,000 neighborhoods (covering 94 percent of the US population). Costs can be seen from the regional down to the neighborhood level.

The H+T Index’s most significant new features include:

  • The True Cost of Driving Tool shows how changes in the price of gas  impacts the affordability and sustainability of different home locations
  • Map views with quick links to key measures, such as access to jobs via transit, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and more
  • Customized, dynamic, and printable Fact Sheets for any municipality, county, CBSA, metropolitan planning organization, or Congressional District in the Index
  • CNT’s All Transit™ data includes stops and frequencies for 507 agencies nationwide

H+T Index data can also be downloaded for use in mapping, policy, planning and other applications.

“Transportation officials, metropolitan planning organizations, and governments all over the country use the H+T Index to make their cities more affordable, efficient and resilient, while consumers can use it to determine where to purchase a home,” CNT President Scott Bernstein said.

The traditional measure of affordability recommends that housing cost no more than 30 percent of household income. Using this standard, a little over half (55 percent) of US neighborhoods are considered “affordable” for the national typical household. However, that percentage drops to 26 percent when the benchmark fails to take into account transportation costs, which are typically a household’s second-largest expenditure. The H+T Index offers an expanded view of affordability, one that combines housing and transportation costs and sets the benchmark at 45% of household income.

The Index shows that transportation costs vary between and within regions depending on neighborhood characteristics. People who live in location-efficient neighborhoods—compact, mixed-use, and with convenient access to jobs, services, transit and amenities—tend to have lower transportation costs.

“The current low costs of fuel make the new True Cost of Driving Tool especially timely,” said Linda Young, Research Director at CNT. “Cities and neighborhoods are relatively fixed, but gas prices can change dramatically in just a few weeks. What if gas prices spike, or return to sustained highs? All of a sudden, auto-dependent neighborhoods become a lot less affordable.”

Along with the H+T Index, CNT also released a new resource called the Location Efficiency Hub to help planners, policy makers, and housing professionals create communities that allow people and goods to move around without wasting energy, time, and money.

Visit the new H+T Index at


Manny Gonzales, Comms Director

Center for Neighborhood Technology