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Eight Cities Selected To Receive Free Neighborhood Design Consultations Under US EPA Grant
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles, CA (SPX) Dec 29, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Eight American communities will receive free neighborhood design consultation in 2012 from Global Green USA with the help of a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program. Over the next six months, 4 sustainability experts will conduct 3-day visits to communities and provide comprehensive recommendations for infrastructure and policy changes aimed at helping the communities build a future that is more resource-efficient, livable, healthy, and environmentally responsible.

Lafayette, Indiana; Dearborn, Michigan; Eden Prairie, Minnesota; Greensboro, North Carolina; Lakewood, Colorado; Oakland, California; Louisville, Kentucky; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania were selected for the free consultations out of a pool of 18 applicants based on several criteria, including need for assistance, urgency, substantial upcoming projects and community engagement.

"The City of Dearborn is excited and ready to work closely with Global Green USA through this program," said Mayor John B. O'Reilly, Jr., "This is a timely opportunity for us to leverage the latest planning tools and concepts of LEED for Neighborhood Development, improving physical design and policies to develop strategies for our ultimate goal of a sustainable future."

"My administration aims to integrate sustainability into the city's buildings, neighborhoods, and the lives of its residents and this grant will provide essential resources to make this a reality," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter

The significant projects that drew attention to the communities included initiatives like the upcoming West Corridor light rail line in Lakewood, CO, which will serve as a catalyst for the nearby Arts District, spurring reinvestment in mixed-use development, bike and car share programs, and over 130 affordable housing units. All the selected projects are poised to serve as a model for future sustainable development in their respective communities.

"Cities are responsible for up to 70% of global warming pollution, but they can also be the laboratories for climate friendly solutions that save money, improve health and quality of life," said Walker Wells, Director of Global Green USA's Green Urbanism Program.

"For nearly two decades Global Green has been helping cities create sustainable plans for the future and we are excited to be able to bring our expertise to these eight deserving communities."

Starting in February, the Global Green sustainability team will visit each of the communities with other planning and sustainability experts from around the country- including Rami+Associates, Farr Associates, the Agora Group, and the United States Green Building Council.

During the site assessment, the team will identify a neighborhood's positive qualities, consult with community stakeholders in meetings and public workshops, and identify major opportunities to improve the sustainability of each neighborhood.

At the conclusion of the visit, the team will present recommendations for both physical and policy changes that may include street width reductions, ecological restoration, integrated energy and water infrastructure, new standards for in-fill and transit-oriented development, or zoning code revisions to allow for urban agriculture or mixed-use development.

The sustainability experts evaluating the communities will use the LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) standard, a nationally recognized method for creating neighborhoods that are walkable, bikeable, resource-efficient, and equitable.

Benefits of LEED-ND neighborhoods can include lower municipal operations costs, reduced infrastructure costs, increased use of alternate transportation, improvements to public health, and environmental protection. LEED-ND was developed by USGBC, Congress for the New Urbanism, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The assistance to the 8 communities will be made possible by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Sustainable Communities under the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program. This program aims to provide technical assistance to 50 communities throughout the Nation.

This year Global Green and three other nonprofit organizations-Forterra (formerly Cascade Land Conservancy), Smart Growth America and Project for Public Spaces-received these competitively awarded grants to help protect the environment, and improve overall quality of life for communities.

For more information about LEED-ND click here/

A guide for how LEED-ND can be used by local governments is available here.

More about US EPA's Office of Sustainable Communities Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program is available here.

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India against binding emissions pact: minister
New Delhi (AFP) Dec 27, 2011
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