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 Leaky, aging pipes and outdated systems are wasting 2.1 trillion gallons annually.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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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.

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


Transit-Oriented ‘TOD Talk’ Pulls in Gen X, Millennial, Baby Boomers

March 23rd, 2015

Billed as “an evening of inter-generational back-and-forth” between three transportation and development experts — a Gen-Xer, Baby Boomer and Millennial — a Transit-Oriented Development panel discussion is set for Tuesday, March 22.

CNT’s Jacky Grimshaw and Kyle Smith will be joined by Andrew Vesselinovitch as featured panelists at a “TOD Talk” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Center for Neighborhood Technology, 2125 W. North Ave. in Chicago.

The panel, which folks on Twitter can discuss using hashtag  #TODtalk, will be moderated by Chris Dillion of Campbell Coyle Real Estate.

Grimshaw is CNT’s Vice President of Policy; Smith is the nonprofit group’s Economic Development Project Manager.

Vesselinovitch is an urban designer and project manager with Smith Barney Architects.

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CNT Press Mentions March 2015

March 19th, 2015

When cheap housing isn’t really a good dealWashington Post | March 26, 2015
Study shows Chicagoans’ commutes are getting longerWBEZ | March 25, 2015
Transit-Oriented ‘TOD Talk’ Pulls in Gen X, Millennial, Baby Boomer TuesdayDNAinfo Chicago | March 20, 2015
Why Chicago needs bus rapid transit on AshlandChicago Sun-Times | March 19, 2015

Chicago Sun-Times Editorial: Why Chicago needs bus rapid transit on Ashland

March 19th, 2015


Some candidates for local office and others in Chicago have raised reasonable concerns about a proposed rapid transit bus line on Ashland Avenue. They wonder how limiting left-hand turns would affect car traffic and whether paying for the new line would divert money from the many other CTA improvements needed.

But let’s not lose sight of why Chicago needs its first rapid transit line — bus or L — that doesn’t go downtown, one that connects west side communities and CTA’s Orange, Blue, Brown and Green lines: it’s because not everyone works downtown or is going downtown, which is the outdated premise behind the CTA’s hub-and-spoke system.

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CNT Research Leads to Flood Protection Fund Bill

March 5th, 2015
FlickrCC -  State Farm

Photo by State Farm/Flickr Creative Commons License

Our recent report The Prevalence and Cost of Urban Flooding was a game changer in our efforts to keep homes and businesses dry and increase community resiliency in the face of increasingly severe rainstorms. We set out to pinpoint where exactly urban flooding was happening, and to our surprise we found that the majority of flood damage occurs outside of designated floodplains. Because most flood relief programs focus on people who live within floodplains, we discovered that many flood victims have a hard time getting the financial assistance they need.

To fill this gap, CNT recently approached Illinois State Representative Mike Fortner with a proposal to introduce legislation establishing the Home and Business Flood Protection and Loan Program Fund, HB 3525.  In the last several years, Rep. Fortner has been the sponsor of some important stormwater management bills and was immediately supportive of the Home and Business Flood Protection concept. He introduced the bill on February 26, 2015.

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CNT and Transit Future’s Response to Gov. Rauner’s Proposed Budget Cuts

February 18th, 2015

Feb. 18, 2015

CHICAGO — Gov. Rauner today in his proposed budget alluded to sweeping budget cuts in transit that would affect citizens who rely on  CTA, RTA, Metra and Amtrak.

“Growing Illinois’ economy can’t start by cutting transit,” said Kathy Tholin, Chief Executive Officer of CNT, which is spearheading the Transit Future campaign to expand rail and bus service in Chicagoland. “Over the long haul, transit anchors communities where people can take a train or bus to work and spend less money on cars. In addition there are major employers that continue to stress their reliance on CTA, RTA, Metra and Amtrak to reach the high-skilled employees they need.”

CNT Press Mentions February 2015

February 9th, 2015

DIY Home ImprovementMighty House Radio | February 28, 2015
CTA predicts ‘significant negative impact’ on public transit in Rauner budgetChicago Sun-Times | February 18, 2015
Ashland Express Bus an 11th Ward Flashpoint, but Candidates Mum on StanceDNAinfo Chicago | February 13, 2015
Transportation group releases guide for votersWBEZ | February 11, 2015
How Do “Best Cities for Families” Rankings Get It So Wrong?Streetsblog | February 10, 2015
Chicago Technologists and Community Leaders Unite for CNT’s 4th Annual Apps CompetitionChicago Inno | February 9, 2015