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How Self-Reliant Cities Use Raw Materials

by Neil Seldman, Institute for Local Self-Reliance Jun 17, 2012

Mattress recycling in Eugene, OR, creates jobs and reduces waste.

Guest Blogger: Neil Seldman, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

The recycling movement is yielding excellent results throughout the United States. In a range of innovative new ways, local governments are connecting the dots between resource conservation, sustainability, and local economic development. They are saving money, increasing local self-reliance, creating local jobs, and strengthening their local economies through recycling, reuse, composting and local food initiatives. Read on for success stories from communities across the country, and how you follow their lead.

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Houston Mayor Parker Announces Green Office Challenge Winners

by City of Houston Apr 25, 2012

City of Houston Creates Largest Challenge in U.S.

Houston green office challenge awards 2012 1 (credit: Richard J. Carson)

Mayor Annise Parker (right) congratulates members of Smith and Associates Green
Team, which took home the Overall Winner honors for "Greatest Implementation of
Green Building Innovations." Photo credit: Richard J. Carson


The City of Houston, in partnership with ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, the Clinton Climate Initiative and over 25 Houston nonprofits, announced the winners of the City’s first annual Green Office Challenge on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. The Houston Green Office Challenge officially began January 1, 2011 becoming the nation’s largest.

Since that time, the City of Houston has provided training opportunities and other resources, including financial incentives, to assist office building owners, property managers, management districts and tenants to increase their environmental and economic performance in the areas of energy conservation, waste reduction, water efficiency, cleaner transportation choices and property management/tenant engagement.

“The Green Office Challenge has been a success because of community commitment,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “More than 375 buildings and tenants participated representing approximately 75 million square feet.” In just the last year, with 176 buildings achieving LEED status, Houston rose from number seven to number four in the nation with the most LEED certified buildings and is quickly closing in on a top three spot. 

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Houston Independent School District Launches ‘Green School’ Challenge

by Houston Independent School District Dec 15, 2011

Houston Green Schools 1Credit: Houston Independent School District

In an effort to continue decreasing energy and water consumption, the Houston Independent School District is kicking off a new initiative, The Green School Challenge, on Wednesday, December 14 at 10 a.m. at Berry Elementary School, 2310 Berry.

“We are very excited to launch this initiative,” said HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier.  “Just recently President Obama recognized our efforts for conserving energy and this is just one of many ways we are committed to continue leading by example in our conservatory efforts.”

The Green School Challenge is a friendly school competition designed to promote long-term behavioral changes, create awareness, reduce energy consumption and water usage, and to increase single-stream recycling of waste. 

“We believe that taking simple steps in the way we operate our schools will result in significant savings for the district,” said Dr. Gavin Dillingham, HISD’s energy manager.  “These are savings that can be used to further improve our schools.”

This challenge encourages every school to build their own ‘Green Team’ comprised of students, staff and administrators and develop a program that is specific to the characteristics of each school.


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Materials Management and Climate Change Toolkit

by Ashley Zanolli, EPA Region 10 Jun 15, 2011

Product Lifecycle Chart

You already know that reducing, reusing, and recycling are important actions to reduce your community’s environmental footprint.  But did you know the material sector is responsible for approximately 42% of domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?  Extracting resources, processing materials, manufacturing, and transporting goods and food contribute significantly to climate change.  Luckily reducing this impact is within your control.  The new Materials Management and Climate Change Toolkit, from the West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum, provides resources to integrate material conservation into your community GHG inventory and climate action planning.  You can make significant climate actions in this little known field.

>> View the Toolkit

Many local and state governments have taken climate mitigation into their own hands by setting impressive goals for reducing emissions from transportation, industry, and the built environment.  While this is an inspiring development in climate action, these inventories and strategies do not account for the enormous upstream emissions attributable to goods and food.  We are excited to share this comprehensive resource with you as you map out how to incorporate material conservation into your climate strategies.

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Philadelphia Hitting Sustainability Stride in Mid-2011

by Adrienne DeAngelo May 16, 2011

Philadelphia Skyline 2007 Public Domain

Philadelphia skyline

In 2009, Mayor Michael Nutter set an ambitious goal of making Philadelphia the greenest city in America within six years. The plan, called Greenworks Philadelphia, sets 15 goals that the city hopes to reach by 2015. Since the Mayor's announcement, ICLEI has been following Philadelphia's innovations and sharing its successes with our network of local governments.

By 2010, the city had already made significant inroads, many of them the result of innovative public-private partnerships. Now, almost two years into the plan, the accomplishments keep coming.

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San Antonio Ordinance Promotes Green Events Scorecard

by Katelyn Orenchuk May 08, 2011

San Antonio event by cbcastro

San Antonio, TX. Photo credit: cbcastro on Flickr

In April, the city of San Antonio adopted a Green Events Ordinance to help make events in the city more environmentally friendly by requiring the submission of a “Green Events Scorecard” along with permit applications or event contracts. The ordinance applies to medium- and large-scale events with attendees and staff totaling more than 1,000 people, matching any of the following criteria: the event takes place on city-owned property; the event is funded by or receives sponsorship from the city valued at half or more of event costs; the event requires a right-of-way permit.

How the Green Events Scorecard Works

The Green Events Scorecard lists a range of actions, including providing recycling opportunities to attendees or double-sided printing of promotional items, that event coordinators can take to achieve merit points for their events. Once the initiatives have been implemented and the scorecard is totaled, the event will be green certified Silver, Gold, Platinum, or Verde. The City will next create a Green Events Planning Guide with tips for how to organize green events and achieve certification.

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How Recycling and Composting Help Reduce GHGs

by Bill Smith and John Davis May 05, 2011

Stacked Cardboard

Guest Bloggers: Bill Smith and John Davis, Co-Chairs of the West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum and U.S. EPA Regions 9 and 10

You are probably already aware that recycling and composting provide many environmental benefits. But did you know that diverting recyclable and compostable materials from the waste stream can lead to significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions? In fact, within California, Oregon, and Washington, recycling or composting many of the commonly found items in the disposed waste stream could reduce GHG emissions by more than 32 MMTCO2e, (million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent), the equivalent of taking 6.3 million cars off the road for a year.  EPA Report Cover: Reducing GHGs with Composting and Recycling

We are pleased to share this finding from a new report, “Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Recycling and Composting,” produced by the West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum, an EPA-led partnership of western city, county, state, and tribal governments.

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Case Study: San Jose, CA’s Single-Use Bag Ban

by Don Knapp Feb 22, 2011

San Jose City Hall (credit: Ken McCown via Flickr)

San Jose City Hall. Credit: Ken McCown via Flickr

San Jose case study thumbRead ICLEI's latest case study on the City of San Jose's Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance, which bans the distribution of single-use plastic bags and prohibits the free distribution of paper bags. The Ordinance was passed by San Jose’s City Council on December 14, 2010, and will go into effect January 2012.

Read on to learn more about how the ordinance works, why the City developed it, and how staff initiated community engagement.

small green arrow icon View the Case Study (pdf)


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Los Angeles County Thinks Big on Energy and Climate

by Monica Gilchrist, Regional Officer Feb 16, 2011

California Map Los Angeles County















Did you know that the County of Los Angeles is one of California's regional leaders on climate and sustainability action? Below, we highlight five of the most significant recent programs the County has undertaken. When you consider that LA County is the most populous county in the nation -- encompassing 88 separate municipalities, including City of Los Angeles -- you can better appreciate the far-reaching positive impacts of its actions.


Los Angeles County logo

Energy Upgrade California Program

LA County participates in the Energy Upgrade California Program, which helps homeowners make home upgrades to reduce energy use, conserve resources and create more comfortable and efficient homes. Participating homeowners may be eligible for up to $4,500 in rebates and incentives. LA County's goal for the Program is to improve the energy efficiency of 18,000 houses in the County by the end of 2012.

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Cincinnati, OH's Innovative Program Saves Money and Improves Recycling Rate

by Natasha Umer Feb 15, 2011

Items to Recycle

The Achievement

In November 2010, Cincinnati reported a 30% increase in its recycling rate since November 2009, thanks to the City’s “Enhanced Recycling Program.” This initiative encourages more residents to recycle by creating a recycling rewards system, similar to a frequent flier mile program.

In this one-year period, the City collected 1,330 tons of recyclable products, and broke its own record for the highest recycling rate.

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