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Recap From ICLEI's Resilient Cities 2012 Conference

by Don Knapp May 23, 2012

On May 12-15, more than 400 participants and 217 panelists from local governments around the globe gathered in Bonn for the 3rd edition of ICLEI's Resilience Cities conference, the premier global forum on urban resilience and adaptation. Experts exchanged knowledge and shared innovative urban resilience solutions during dozens of sessions, workshops, and forums.


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A Handbook for How to Make Cities More Resilient

by Don Knapp May 23, 2012

The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) has released a new handbook for local government leaders, "How to Make Cities More Resilient." Here's the summary from their website:

This handbook provides mayors, governors, councillors and other local government leaders with a generic framework for risk reduction and points to good practices and tools that are already being applied in different cities for that purpose. It discusses why building disaster resilience is beneficial; what kind of strategies and actions are required; and how to go about the task. It offers practical guidance to understand and take action on the "Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient" as set out in the global campaign "Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready!"

View the Handbook

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Rio+20 Updates for Local Governments

by Don Knapp May 23, 2012

On June 20-22, a global conversation on sustainability challenges will take place at the United Nations' Rio+20 Summit, with the overarching theme of "The Future We Want."

In addition to the national government representatives, local government leaders will attend, led by ICLEI, which will work to amplify their voices and ensure that local perspectives are heard, especially regarding the green economy.


Your Rio+20 Primer

Want an overview of the Summit and how ICLEI and local governments will be involved? Browse ICLEI's Rio+20 page, which includes a "fast facts" primer.

Get an Overview >>

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Four Surprising Sustainable Cities Across the Globe

by Ashley Halligan May 21, 2012

Philadelphia, PA photo credit: vic15 via Flickr

Guest blogger: Ashley Halligan, an analyst at Software Advice, an Austin-based company


Cities all around the world are placing more emphasis on sustainability initiatives, some whose sustainability projects are widely known, and some that you may not have heard of -- yet are still achieving massive steps forward.  Here are four diverse cities all facing urban challenges such as crime and litter, yet all with admirable initiatives in place.

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New IREC Report Identifies Strategies for Permitting Solar Rooftops

by Interstate Renewable Energy Council May 17, 2012

IREC logo

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) today released Sharing Success - Emerging Approaches to Efficient Rooftop Solar Permitting, a new report that outlines innovative strategies being implemented across the United States to help increase the efficiency of permitting procedures for rooftop solar systems.  The report aims to serve as both a vehicle for discussion of permitting challenges, and as a source of inspiration for communities looking for realistic and effective ways to improve solar permitting while ensuring safe solar installations.

"IREC has been a leading resource for city and county building officials by providing field inspection guidelines and workshops," said Jane Weissman, IREC's Executive Director.  "The Sharing Success report becomes another valuable tool to help jurisdictions ensure safe solar installations in their community."

Sky Stanfield, Erica Schroeder and Thad Culley of Keyes, Fox & Wiedman LLP prepared the Sharing Success report after extensive one-on-one conversations with cities and counties regarding their permitting processes and the specific improvements they were putting in place. "As we spoke with city and county staff and solar installers, we came to appreciate the need to develop methods that would result in efficiency improvements for both entities," said Sky Stanfield, lead author of the report. "We found that communities are identifying permitting improvements that can save time for everyone involved."

IREC found that the dramatic increase in the volume of solar applications is placing a burden on local permitting agencies. As a result, the desire for increased efficiency comes not only from solar installers but also from municipal staff. 


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Sustainable Funding for Local Energy Efficiency Initiatives

by ACEEE May 07, 2012

Downtown San Francisco, CA, Houses

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), has released a new research report titled, "Keeping It in the Community: Sustainable Funding for Local Energy Efficiency Initiatives." Here's a quick summary of the report:

Initial investments have already been made by thousands of local governments in energy efficiency projects, programs, policies, and expanding staff capacity, but most federal funds that have supported these efforts are expiring. Some communities have considered or adopted sustainable funding mechanisms for their energy efficiency investments. These efforts provide important examples for other communities hoping to sustain funding for their efficiency efforts.

ACEEE LogoThis report describes several of these local funding options and provides examples where each has been adopted. Options discussed include utility partnerships; licensing, service, or waste fees; energy or carbon taxes; systems benefit funds; bonds; and options to capture the value created by avoided energy costs to create self-sustaining funds through revolving loan funds or other mechanisms. Additional items discussed include leadership and management practices that have made the establishment and continuation of these funding mechanisms viable, such as champions, issue framing, dedicated staff, performance benchmarking, and measurement and verification. 

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Solar Leasing and Solar as a Revenue Generator for Local Governments

by Don Knapp May 07, 2012

new york solar banner image

ICLEI’s partner, The Solar Foundation, has released two new fact sheets for local governments:

The Solar Foundation logo

The Solar Foundation created these as part of its efforts under the Solar Outreach Partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. As a member of this partnership, The Solar Foundation helps provide information and technical expertise to local governments interested in implementing solar programs and policies.

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The More Local the Energy, the More Valuable

by Institute for Local Self-Reliance May 07, 2012

wind energy chart

John Farrell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance posted this great chart on their website that is worth reposting for ICLEI members. John's take-home: Local ownership of a wind project accounts for half of its lifetime economic value to the community!

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Energy Efficiency for Commercial Buildings in Focus

by SEE Action May 07, 2012

SEE Action logoThe Existing Commercial Buildings Working Group of the State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network (SEE Action) has developed best practice recommendations to improve energy efficiency in public and private commercial buildings through whole-building approaches. These best practices can save energy, save money, and create jobs. For example, retro-commissioning offers 10% to 30% energy savings, dollar savings of 2 to 10 times the cost, and can add up to millions of dollars saved across a building portfolio. Retro-commissioning programs create an estimated 5 to 15 green jobs per $1 million invested. SEE Action fact sheets are available on:

  • Energy benchmarking to measure the energy performance of buildings, improve information transparency in the market, and identify good candidates for energy audits and upgrades.
  • Strategic energy management to reduce upgrade costs across a portfolio of facilities and institutionalize practices to sustain long-term savings.
  • Retro-commissioning to “tune up” a building’s equipment to increase efficiency without a major capital investment.
  • High performance leasing to overcome the “split incentive” problem faced by tenants and property owners by incorporating energy efficiency benefit- and cost-sharing practices into lease terms.


About SEE Action

SEE Action is a state- and local-led effort to achieve all cost-effective energy efficiency by 2020. Facilitated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), SEE Action offers knowledge, resources, and technical assistance to state and local decision makers as they advance energy efficiency policies and programs in their jurisdictions.

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Sustainable Cities Making Headlines This Week

by Don Knapp May 03, 2012

New York Chrysler building

It's been a action-packed week for sustainable cities, who are making headlines with their innovative initiatives and success stories.

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