News for January, 2011
Monday, January 31st, 2011
Chicago is northeastern Illinois’ historic center of commerce and employment, yet over the last half century, economic activity has continuously dispersed to outlying suburbs. For the most part nationally, the attention to neighborhood development around transit has focused on mixed-use development with residences, street-level retail and, occasionally, office space.
This paradigm ignores the fact that much vacant land within station areas is strictly zoned for manufacturing or commercial purposes that could attract businesses offering living wages. Next Stop: New Jobs, a new analysis by CNT, addresses these disparities by identifying opportunities to create transit-friendly employment in Chicago. Read more »
Monday, January 24th, 2011
Washington, DC (January 24, 2011)—Eighteen carsharing organizations from around the world have announced formation of an association that sets the ethical, social and environmental bar for the car sharing industry. The driving principles of the new CarSharing Association (CSA) focus on environmental and social impact and responsibility, education, research and ethical practices (www.carsharing.org).
The goals of carsharing organizations in CSA include reducing the number of cars on the road, relieving congestion and increasing transportation options. Unlike “cars on demand” services, member carsharing organizations are “transit-oriented” services, encouraging carsharing as part of a sustainable transportation network of choices that includes walking, cycling, and transit.
“We view our carsharing programs as a form of transit, getting people to the last leg of their destination,” said Sharon Feigon, CEO of I-GO Car Sharing, based in Chicago. “I-GO and other members of the Association provide an important public service that enhances mobility options while creating sustainable communities.”
The Association’s member organizations span from Sydney to Halifax to Minneapolis to Sao Paolo and represent approximately 100,000 members across the globe. CSA members include innovators of carsharing in North America, the oldest of which has been operating since 1994. Unlike traditional car rental, carsharers use vehicles by the hour at a cost that includes gas, insurance, parking and maintenance. The CSA encourages closer integration of shared services among member organizations, including roaming memberships, supporting sustainable transportation and facilitating research.
“Carsharing is a reliable and flexible alternative to car ownership,” states the CSA’s founding document, “Its mission, vision and values lead to actions aimed at decreasing individual car ownership, reducing vehicle distance traveled, improving urban land use and development, and providing affordable access to vehicles for all constituencies – including those less able to afford car ownership.”
CSA members have created and agree to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for carsharing. Key themes include upholding the association’s social and environmental commitment, establishing and maintaining standards for the industry, quality of service to members and stakeholders, and vital public education and research.
Founding members of the Car Sharing Association are:
Ashland CarShare (Ashland) Media contact: Becky Brown firstname.lastname@example.org
AutoShare (Toronto) Media contact: Kevin McLaughlin email@example.com
Buffalo CarShare (Buffalo) Media contact: Creighton Randall firstname.lastname@example.org
The Car Co-op & The Company Car (Metro Vancouver) Media contact: Tanya Paz email@example.com
CarShare Vermont (Burlington) Media contact: Candy Page firstname.lastname@example.org
CarShareHFX (Halifax) Media contact: Pam Cooley email@example.com
City CarShare (San Francisco) Media contact: Anita Daley firstname.lastname@example.org
CityWheels (Cleveland) Media contact: Ryan McKenzie email@example.com
Communauto (Montreal) Media contact: Marco Viviani firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Car (Madison) Media contact: John Ribolzi email@example.com
eGo CarShare (Denver and Boulder) Media contact: Karen Worminghaus firstname.lastname@example.org
Goget (Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane) Media contact: Bruce Jeffreys email@example.com
HOURCAR (Minneapolis/Saint Paul) Media contact: Christopher Bineham firstname.lastname@example.org
I-GO Car Sharing (Chicago) Media contact: Sharon Feigon email@example.com
Ithaca Carshare (Ithaca) Media contact: Jennifer Dotson firstname.lastname@example.org
PhillyCarShare (Philadelphia) Media contact: Judith Harvey email@example.com
VRTUCAR (Ottawa) Media contact: Wilson Wood firstname.lastname@example.org
Zazcar (Sao Paolo) Media contact: Felipe Barroso email@example.com
Emily Robinson, Center for Neighborhood Technology, firstname.lastname@example.org, 773-269-4043
Friday, January 21st, 2011
The new "Green Infrastructure Valuation Guide" shows how green infrastructure practices can produce different combinations of benefits.
A new report released today by CNT and American Rivers quantifies the economic value of green infrastructure’s benefits – the key to helping municipalities adopt this innovative and cost-effective stormwater management approach. “The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Social and Environmental Benefits” is a broad analysis that is the first to place an economic value on the numerous benefits provided by green infrastructure.
The guide fills an information gap that has hampered widespread deployment of green infrastructure—the practice of managing stormwater with natural systems. “The Value of Green Infrastructure” brings together current research on green infrastructure performance and presents methods for calculating related benefits in water management, energy, air quality, climate, and community livability. Read more »
Friday, January 21st, 2011
CHICAGO (January 21, 2011)— Quantifying the economic value of green infrastructure’s benefits is the key to helping municipalities adopt this innovative and cost-effective stormwater management approach, according to a new report by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) and American Rivers. “The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Social and Environmental Benefits” is a broad analysis that is the first to place an economic value on the numerous benefits provided by green infrastructure.
Download the guide at http://www.cnt.org/repository/gi-values-guide.pdf.
The guide fills an information gap that has hampered widespread deployment of green infrastructure—the practice of managing stormwater with natural systems. “The Value of Green Infrastructure” brings together current research on green infrastructure performance and presents methods for calculating related benefits in water management, energy, air quality, climate, and community livability.
“When you can assign economic value to the wide array of green infrastructure benefits, planners, builders, and city officials can accurately evaluate the advantages of these approaches for managing stormwater in their communities,” said Danielle Gallet, infrastructure strategist at CNT and one of the principal authors of the guide. “Establishing a framework for calculating the benefits of green infrastructure is a first, key step to making it a mainstream practice.”
Green infrastructure is a network of decentralized stormwater management practices—such as green roofs, trees, rain gardens and permeable pavement—that can capture and infiltrate rain where it falls, reducing stormwater runoff and improving the health of surrounding waterways. The practices provide multiple environmental, economic and social benefits, including, but not limited to:
- Less polluted stormwater runoff
- Improved air quality
- Energy savings
- Increased property values, and
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
“This guide helps quantify the multiple energy, economic and environmental dividends we’re seeing in Portland with our own sustainable stormwater efforts,” said Mike Rosen, Watershed Division Manager of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services. ”Every planner, stormwater manager or developer who’s deciding how to invest their water infrastructure dollars for the next 20 years should read this informative, thought-provoking handbook.”
Municipalities have often struggled to quantify green infrastructure’s monetary benefits. However, any cost-benefit analysis comparing grey infrastructure with green infrastructure is incomplete if it
fails to factor in the multiple benefits that only green infrastructure uniquely delivers. These benefits are above and beyond the basic stormwater control benefits, which are assumed to be equal to a similar investment in grey infrastructure.
The values presented in this guide are not the final word. More research is needed to put more accurate dollar figures on the full range of green infrastructure’s benefits. Based on existing research data, many of the estimates in this guide likely undervalue the true worth of green infrastructure benefits, but it is an important first step in the right direction.
“Living green infrastructure has just taken a giant leap forward with the publication of this practical, user-friendly guide that will help policy makers, designers, manufacturers and installers evaluate the many benefits of these important and too often undervalued technologies,” said Steven W. Peck, the founder and president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.
Aurora, Illinois is an example of a municipality that understands the many benefits conferred by green infrastructure. In 2009, the city installed permeable pavers, bioswales and infiltration trenches at its new police headquarters, managing the runoff from the property and from adjacent uphill land. The features minimize the discharge of water and pollutants to nearby Indian Creek and eliminate the persistent basement flooding in nearby homes. The guide’s aim is to make Aurora’s efforts standard practice across the nation.
“When you do the math, the benefits of green infrastructure really add up,” said Betsy Otto, Vice President for Conservation and Strategic Partnerships at American Rivers, a funder of the project. “This guide will help communities decide where, when, and to what extent green infrastructure practices should be incorporated into their planning, development and redevelopment activities.”
Emily Robinson, Center for Neighborhood Technology, email@example.com, 773-269-4043
Will Hewes, American Rivers, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-347-7550
American Rivers is the leading conservation organization fighting for healthy rivers so communities can thrive. American Rivers protects and restores the nation’s rivers and the clean water that sustains people, wildlife and nature. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and supporters, with offices in Washington, DC and nationwide. Visit www.AmericanRivers.org.
Founded in 1978, CNT is a Chicago-based think-and-do tank that works nationally to advance urban sustainability by researching, inventing and testing strategies that use resources more efficiently and equitably. Its programs focus on climate, energy, natural resources, transportation, and community development. CNT is one of eight nonprofits selected from around the world to be recognized by a 2009 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Visit www.cnt.org for more information.
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Questionnaire Responses Show All Candidates Support “Green Growth Platform” of Leading Chicago Environmental Groups
Chicago – All of Chicago’s mayoral candidates committed to improving Chicago’s environment through their responses to the Green Growth Platform issued by the City’s leading environmental and conservation groups. The candidates’ responses are online at: www.mayoralgreenplatform.org.
All of the mayoral candidates have said they will increase renewable energy and make city buildings more energy efficient, increase CTA funding, expand recycling citywide, disinfect sewage pumped into the Chicago River, and add parkland.
The Green Growth Platform asked candidates to answer 20 questions focused on: developing clean energy and cleaning up old highly-polluting coal plants, improving recycling citywide, conserving water, protecting Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, promoting clean transportation and better mobility, creating more parks and open space.
The Green Growth Platform was created by a coalition of 17 environmental, conservation and civic organizations, including: Active Transportation Alliance, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Blacks in Green, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Chicago Recycling Coalition, Citizen Action/Illinois, Environment Illinois, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Friends of the Chicago River, Friends of the Forest Preserves, Friends of the Parks, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Metropolitan Planning Council, Nuclear Energy Information Services, Openlands, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago and Sierra Club/Illinois Chapter. The groups will work to educate candidates on the issues and share the candidates’ responses with the public.
“Actions to make Chicago a leading ‘Green City’ attract jobs, people and businesses, and make our great city an even better and healthier place to live. All of the mayoral candidates clearly recognize that making Chicago a greener city is important to Chicagoans and voters,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “We look forward to working with the next mayor to move the Green Growth Platform forward.”
“Chicago’s longest border is uniquely defined by the world’s largest surface source of fresh water,” said Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. “While the next mayor of Chicago will not have to solve Great Lakes problems on his or her own, Chicago’s continuing leadership is absolutely essential to protect the lakes for all generations.”
“We look forward to continuing to work with all of the mayoral candidates so that they embrace transportation policies and investments that connect people and goods to their destinations, generate economic development, encourage healthy lifestyles, and reduce Chicago’s carbon footprint,” said MarySue Barrett, president, Metropolitan Planning Council. “And we encourage Chicagoans to consider the candidates’ responses to the Green Growth Platform as part of the information that helps them to make their voting decisions.”
“Cleaner air will mean healthier Chicago residents,” said Joel J. Africk, President and Chief Executive Officer of Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. “Whichever candidate wins will need to finish the job of cleaning up the two dirty coal power plants as well as the older diesel buses and trucks that pollute the air we all breathe.”
Contact: Peter Gray, ELPC, (312) 795-3715
Thursday, January 13th, 2011
NEW YORK (January 13, 2011)—The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) presented its innovative web service, Abogo, earlier today at the Inman Real Estate Connect conference session on “the coolest new real estate apps” for 2011.
Abogo (abogo.cnt.org), a combination of the words “abode” and “go,” is a web tool based on the idea that housing location and transportation costs are interrelated. Abogo helps people consider both together by allowing users to type in an address and calculate the transportation costs for a typical family. Transportation costs include car ownership, gas and transit expenses.
“Housing and transportation are a household’s two biggest costs, but people don’t think about the transportation implications of the home they choose,” said CNT Social Ventures Associate Adam Mays. “Abogo helps people make a better decision about where to live by revealing the cost of transportation at a given location. Our new Abogo app allows people to learn the transportation costs of a house as they’re walking through it.”
Abogo uses data and calculations from CNT‘s Housing + Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index (htaindex.cnt.org), the nation’s most comprehensive assessment of household transportation costs by location. The H+T Index presents housing and transportation cost data as maps, charts and statistics for neighborhoods in 337 metro areas, enabling users to compare the relative costs of communities within a region. Importantly, the H+T Index quantifies how choosing to live in walkable, transit-connected neighborhood can lower household expenses and one’s impact on the environment.
CONTACT:Emily Robinson, Center for Neighborhood Technology, email@example.com, 773-269-4043
Thursday, January 6th, 2011
Leading environmental groups released a set of 20 questions for the city’s mayoral candidates. Photo credit ELPC
Seventeen leading environmental groups met today in downtown Chicago to release their Green Growth Platform, a set of 20 environmental questions posed to the city’s mayoral candidates that will help inform Chicago voters about where the candidates stand on important environmental issues facing the city. View the Candidates’ answers to the Green Growth Platform ››
Given that Chicago is the third largest city in the country and has a reputation of being “green,” it is crucial that this city of 3 million continues to be a leader in sustainability and pursue green initiatives that other cities across the nation adopt as their own. Read more »
Thursday, January 6th, 2011
This past September the Illinois EPA kicked off its first Green Infrastructure Grant Program, offering $5 million to pay for worthy stormwater green infrastructure projects. By the December 15, 2010 deadline, IEPA had received 155 applications seeking about $50 million in funding, ten times the amount offered!
The response to the IEPA offer from government entities, non-profit organizations and businesses was overwhelming and puts to rest any notion that there is only limited interest in using sustainable, green infrastructure stormwater practices to address flooding and water quality issues in Illinois. Read more »