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Green Schools Summit at the Crossroads of Sustainability and Education

by Guillermo Meneses, ICLEI Communications Director Oct 13, 2010

classroom by superkimbo in BKK on flickr

Photo credit: superkimbo in BKK on Flickr

Center for Green Schools

There’s no shortage of opinions and ideas when it comes to improving America’s educational system and presenting bold and innovative approaches to our educational system is no easy task. Redford Center

With this idea in mind, a group of mayors and school superintendents will join leading green designers, educators, building engineers, nutritionists and artists for a Greening of America’s Schools Summit November 7-9 at the Robert Redford Center, Sundance Village, Utah.  The goal will be to create a novel, invigorating approach that links education and the environment to benefit America’s next generation of students.

“In my mind, the issues that we are facing in the environment and ICLEI USA logoeducation are inextricably linked and I believe that this Green Schools Summit in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA can lead to creative ideas and bold solutions to tackle our education challenges,” said Robert Redford.

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Examining County Sustainability Strategies in 2010

by Jared Lang, Program Manager at NACo Oct 11, 2010

NACo county sustainability report cover

On September 24, 2010, in a workshop at ICLEI USA's Local Action Summit, the National Association of Counties (NACo) released its latest publication highlighting county sustainability efforts in 2010. The publication, which analyzes the results of a recent survey, is proving to be a valuable asset to America's counties -- helping them better define, prioritize, and more fully assess their sustainability efforts.

small green arrow iconDownload 2010 County Sustainability Strategies

The biggest takeaway from the report? That the most important benefit counties are realizing from sustainability efforts is cost savings. A few more highlights:

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Get Involved in the White Roofs Alliance

by Amy Dickie, White Roofs Alliance Oct 11, 2010

White Roofs illustration (credit: White Roofs Alliance website)

Photo credit: White Roofs Alliance website

As climate change begins to more noticeably stress our ecosystems, the world is awakening to the benefits of white roofs, also known as cool roofs. It is estimated that a campaign to use highly reflective roofs and pavements globally could have a cooling effect equivalent to “offsetting” or “canceling” 44 billion tons of CO2, or over a year’s worth of global, man-made CO2 emissions.

How can we achieve these benefits? Through a concerted effort by national, state, and local governments to accelerate their cool-roof adoption. In June 2010, the White Roofs Alliance (WRA) was launched to serve as a global clearinghouse to promote policies and actions to increase the solar reflectance of our buildings and pavements, and to and offer technical assistance, information, and support to interested governments.

WRA invites your local government to get involved in its efforts and learn more about the benefits of white roofs in your community. Read on for details on WRA actions -- especially legislative efforts around the Congressional energy bill, or visit their website at to contact them directly.

For more background on the benefits of white roofs as well as recent developments, read this blog post.

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Cooling the Planet, One White Roof at a Time

by Amy Dickie, White Roofs Alliance Oct 11, 2010

New York NYC white roofs (credit: NYC CoolRoofs website)

Photo credit: NYC CoolRoofs website and the City of New York

As our planet warms, increasing the solar reflectance, or “albedo,” of our buildings and roads is one of the single most effective tools we have to help cool things down. White roofs and other highly reflective surfaces reflect sunlight, staying cooler than dark surfaces. Thus, using reflective materials in our roofs and pavements can help cool our buildings, cities and planet.The White Roofs Alliance (WRA)is working to help governments and communities scale up white roofs across the globe. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of white roofs, as well as recent developments in the United States and internationally.

  • Cooler Buildings: By reflecting more sunlight back into space, highly reflective roofs can help cool individual buildings, thus lowering their cooling energy use (if air-conditioned) or making them considerably more comfortable (if not). Studies have demonstrated building cooling energy savings in excess of 20% by installing a cool roof.
  • Cooler Cities: Urban heat islands result from the many square miles of dark roofs and pavement in cities, which can make urban areas a few degrees Celsius hotter than surrounding rural areas in summer months. Cool roofs and pavements can combat the urban heat island effect, making cities more comfortable in the summer and also improving air quality (because smog forms more readily on hot days). In the Los Angeles basin, reroofing and repaving with lighter colors, in combination with planting shade trees, could reduce smog levels by about 10%. 
  • Cooler Planet: It is estimated that a campaign to use highly reflective roofs and pavements globally could have a cooling effect equivalent to “offsetting” or “cancelling” 44 billion tons of CO2, or over a year’s worth of global, man-made CO2 emissions.
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Leaping the Barriers to Local Solar Implementation

by Brita Pagels and Justus Stewart, ICLEI Regional Officers Oct 11, 2010

Men Setting up Solar Panel

Scaling up community solar is one of the most exciting sustainability initiatives for local governments. But an array of challenges – not just cloudy days – stand in the way of widespread PV power. At ICLEI’s Local Action Summit 2010, we assembled experts to discuss the roadblocks and ways around them.

Patricia Kappaz shared lessons learned from cities participating in the Department of Energy’s Solar America Communities program, and Anne Hunt and  Brian Ross discussed how the cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis each overcame an array of barriers. Read on for the highlights and take-home points that are applicable to your own community.

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Using Volunteers to Increase Local Government Capacity

by Eli Yewdall Oct 06, 2010

volunteers by Jhuskin on flickr














Photo credit: Jhuskin on flickr.

One of the biggest challenges to local governments in implementing local sustainability initiatives, especially in the current economic climate, is simple lack of staff time. The more well-funded sustainability offices consist of a handful of staff; more common is the one-woman or one-man office, or sustainability tasks are added onto an already overfull plate of existing duties.

That’s why it’s particularly exciting to see the innovative programs presented at the Local Action Summit session on ‘Tapping Volunteers for Community Climate Action.

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Greenworks Orlando: By the Numbers

by Cyrus Bhedwar Oct 06, 2010

Orlando Downtown by Jordi Gomara on flickr

Downtown Orlando. Photo credit: Jordi Gomara on flickr.

As Jon Ippel, Sustainability Manager for the city that's home to the "Happiest Place on Earth," tells it, Mayor Buddy Dyer recognized that keeping Orlando happy well into the future meant increasing its focus on sustainability and recognized the growing role that cities have in jump-starting those initiatives. As a result, he created Greenworks Orlando.

Like many ICLEI members, Orlando was driving towards sustainability for decades, most notably in the water and wastewater arenas.  Then in 2007, Mayor Dyer created Greenworks Orlando "the City’s first comprehensive plan to protect our natural resources, encourage environmentally-friendly lifestyles and business practices and engage everyone who lives, works and visits Central Florida in the effort to 'go green'.”

In the past three years, Greenworks has focused primarily on internal government operations. He recently took the time to share the progress Orlando has made - check out the detailed six page report quantifying their success.

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Heartland Local Government Sustainability Network Launches

by Michael Davidson, Midwest Regional Director Oct 04, 2010

Dubuque, Iowa by Pete Zarria on flickr

Dubuque, Iowa. Photo credit: Pete Zarria on flickr.

September 17 marked the inaugural meeting of the Heartland Local Government Sustainability Network (HLGSN). HLGSN is an independent peer forum of municipal professionals in sustainability, energy, planning, environment, and allied disciplines. The geographic scope of the network includes Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas—aligning decidedly with U.S. EPA Region 7. The network allows some participation from South Dakota and North Dakota, which reside within U.S. EPA Region 8. The impetus for HLGSN is to help member local governments with the administration of federal initiatives, build capacity for members to improve sustainability performance locally, and provide a forum to exchange ideas and information with regional peers who share a common economy, culture, and climate.

The Midwest Regional Office of ICLEI USA will play a support role in the network, which largely includes HLGSN administration and communications. HLGSN is self-governing, and membership is invite-only through peer review. The only requirement is that members are local government professionals. Current members include top-level managers from 14 cities and counties. Thus far, the network is comprised of mostly ICLEI USA communities, but ICLEI USA affiliation is not a requirement.  Kansas City, Missouri, is the founding member of HLGSN.

For more information on the Heartland Local Government Sustainability Network, contact Michael Davidson, Midwest Regional Director, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA.

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Sustainability Successes in Tempe and Maricopa County, AZ

by Don Knapp Oct 04, 2010

Tempe Arizona bridge (photo credit: Conekt

Tempe, AZ. Photo credit: Conekt via Flickr

ICLEI is pleased to welcome two new local government members to its South Central Region: Tempe and Maricopa County, AZ.

Here's a brief overview of their sustainability efforts:

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Two States, One System: Historic Michigan and Wisconsin Climate Cooperation Partnership Emerges

by Michael Davidson Oct 03, 2010

Lake Michigan Sunrise, Indy Kethdy, flickr

Lake Michigan sunrise. Photo credit: Indy Kethdy on Flickr.

In September, Wisconsin and Michigan jointly announced an agreement to cooperate on climate change resiliency. With the failure of Congress to pass the Climate Bill this summer, adaptation proponents in the two Great Lakes states can breathe a partial sigh of relief that at least the matter is being taken up in state capitols.

The memorandum of understanding between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is explicitly to “establish and implement a partnership for climate change adaptation.” It calls for the sharing of data and information to help the states understand what the other is doing—a sensible strategy to prevent costly duplication of efforts.

The agreement says the states will coordinate on adaptation projects that involve shared political borders and resources (Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; lakes Michigan and Superior). It also promises that the participating state agencies will provide technical support for proper environmental and engineering evaluations, develop “action plans” for climate adaptation and mitigation, and pursue funding opportunities for greenhouse gas mitigation and climate change adaptation. Representatives from both agencies will convene regularly to discuss progress.

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