CNT in the News

Perspectives at the Water-Energy-Climate Nexus

Modern Pumping Today | May 18, 2017

A field of experts gathered to discuss climate change in the context of water and energy innovation and issues at Northwestern University’s 2016 Climate Change Symposium. The event was coordinated by the Northwestern Center for Water Research, the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN), and the Northwestern-Argonne Institute of Science and Engineering. CNT was there, highlighting its work that has motivated elected officials to enact legislation requiring FEMA to conduct a national study on urban flooding. Based on its many partnerships, CNT, has been able to deliver more sustainable practices that come to the aid of homeowners and communities to mitigate flooding. Through CNT’s popular RainReady initiative, homeowners and municipalities save money by installing green infrastructure solutions like rain gardens and bioswales for stormwater management. 

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Dallas the Top Car-Free Big City In Texas, According to AllTransit

Culture Map Dallas | May 18, 2017

One explanation for Dallas’ standing as the top car-free big city in Texas is its AllTransit score from the Center for Neighborhood Technology. The score measures a city’s public transit connectivity, access, and frequency.

Dallas has the highest AllTransit score — 6.8 — among the state’s five major cities. Next is Houston, with a score of 6.2, followed by San Antonio at 5.7, Austin at 5.5, and Fort Worth at 3.1.

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The Cost of Living Myth in Northeast Ohio

The Cleveland Scene | May 17, 2017

Read virtually any promotional brochure or talk to almost any resident about the benefits of Northeast Ohio, and cost of living is likely to rise to the top of the list--yet CNT research shows that Greater Clevelanders typically spend 55 percent of income on housing and transportation combined compared with 40 percent of income typically spent by the nation as a whole.

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City of Big Potholes: Is Asphalt The Best Choice For Chicago's Streets?

WBEZ 91.5 Chicago | May 15, 2017

Chicago and most other major American cities use a composite method for paving city roads. But is this the most sustainable way to pave streets? There are a few notable environmental pluses to concrete: It doesn’t trap as much heat from the sun as blacktop asphalt does, and cars get better mileage on smoother, sturdier road surfaces. But the two pavements aren’t so different, according to Scott Bernstein at the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a nonprofit that studies sustainability in urban environments. “It’s sort of a dead heat as to which one uses more energy in its formation and its paving,” Bernstein says.

Instead, Bernstein says that a great way to make Chicago’s streets more environmentally sustainable would be to focus on drainage. “The two biggest uses of energy in the municipal budget are pumping water and pumping sewer,” Bernstein explains. Improve drainage, and you can improve your energy efficiency. This is where “permeable pavements” come in. Permeable pavements are made so that there are gaps for water to flow through. For example, "open-graded asphalt" uses a different combination of rocks atop a stone aggregate, so rain can go through to ground aquifers.

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In the Elusive Search for Affordable Housing, Clues Emerge

Governing.com | April 28, 2017

Perhaps the most intriguing new idea about affordable housing is to think of the issue more broadly. That’s the approach touted by Scott Bernstein, who heads the Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago. “We have a national discussion about income,” Bernstein says, pointing to the proliferation of “living wage” ordinances and the debate around them. “We don’t have a national discussion about the cost of living.”

In Bernstein’s view, true affordability involves much more than the price of shelter. It includes, most important, transportation. In most cities, the affordable housing strategy most homeowners and renters use is basically “drive until you qualify.” Housing prices drop as distance from the city increases. As a result, homeowners and renters keep moving further out until they find a place where they afford to live. Unfortunately, they nearly always underestimate the cost of transportation. “Very low-income people can easily spend 80 percent of their incomes on the combined cost of housing and transportation,” Bernstein says. “Even moderate-income people who are stuck with no mass transit can end up spending as much on transportation as on housing.”

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Combating the Suburbanization of Poverty

The Sightline Insitute | April 28, 2017

The Pacific Northwest is an expensive place to be poor,” says Scott Bernstein, who has spent much of the last three years studying trends and solutions to poverty in North America.

And in many ways the region’s suburbs are even more costly for people of lesser means, notes Bernstein, founder of the Center for Neighborhood Technology and lead author of the organization’s Urban Opportunity Agenda. In many suburbs, transit is sparse or non-existent, so car ownership is all but mandatory to reach the scattered jobs. And cars are costly. “People end up holding onto older cars and paying for repairs, or paying more to get a newer car,” Bernstein says. “Portland and Seattle are leaders in expanding transit, but most of that is in the core and some inner suburbs.” Services like home weatherization programs and job training, present in central cities, are often missing in suburban locales.

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