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Al Gore Joins Boston Mayor Menino

by Don Knapp Apr 01, 2009

City of Boston made a big splash today with the announced creation of a 21-member Boston Climate Action Leadership Committee, and news that $6.5 million in Economic Recovery Act funds will launch Renew Boston, a public-private partnership that will boost energy efficiency and renewables for community members and businesses in Boston.

Former Vice President Al Gore joined Mayor Thomas M. Menino for the announcement, making it a very big deal. And yet, Boston already has a climate action plan, released in 2007, and has been a leader among green cities. What are they going to do differently with this Leadership Committee?

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Local Action Roundup

by Don Knapp Apr 01, 2009

Boston, Other Cities Debate Hybrid Taxis (The New York Times)

National Grid Rolls Out Plan for Smart Grid Pilot in Worcester, MA (Environmental Leader)

States and Local Government Web Sites Inform Residents on Use of Stimulus Funds (American City & County)

Louisville, KY, Seeks Stimulus Funds for Energy Efficiency Improvements (American City & County)

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Federal Help for Local Climate Adaptation?

by Don Knapp Apr 01, 2009

Evacuation Route Sign

Local governments may be getting some much-needed planning assistance to prepare for the unavoidable consequences of global warming. The draft climate and energy bill released on Tuesday includes what looks to be some very progressive measures on climate adaptation--bringing foresight and realism to the issue for the time from the federal government. ICLEI USA Executive Director Michelle Wyman's quote in today's The New York Times/ClimateWire article summed it up:

"This is the first bill with really specific adaptation initiatives. "They're now saying, 'This is what needs to be done.' It's making the science real. It's saying we now understand there are unavoidable impacts from a certain level of climatic change that is now taking place."


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Top 10 Earth Day Planning Resources

by Don Knapp Mar 30, 2009

Let’s ponder three of the worst scenarios for your community Earth Day event. Number one, nobody shows up because they didn’t know about it or the event promotion didn’t spark their interest. Number two, they show up and it’s a jumbled disaster because of poor planning and execution. Number three, they show up, you’ve got things running smoothly, but everybody soon heads for the door because they’re bored and uninterested by your lineup of activities.

Got you anxious? Relax, it’s going to be great! That is, as long as you do your homework and look over the the 10 best free resources we've compiled to help you plan and implement an Earth Day event—whether it’s part of the National Conversation on Climate Action or your own format. Take advantage of them while there's still time.


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A Bigger Voice in D.C. for Local Governments

by Don Knapp Mar 30, 2009

ICLEI USA is making a major move east, moving to Washington D.C. in August 2009.

ICLEI USA is excited to announce the move of its headquarters to Washington, D.C. in August 2009.  After more than 15 years in California, ICLEI is responding to the demand we have heard from our local government members to establish a formal presence in the nation’s capital as the pace of action on climate and energy policy accelerates rapidly. 

This move brings with it the following benefits:

Higher profile for ICLEI and its local government member network to represent priorities in climate, energy, and sustainability work at the federal level--with the Obama Administration and Congress
"Home away from home” for all ICLEI local government members to stop by when they are in D.C., get the latest progress report on local-to-federal action, and secure onsite support from ICLEI
Consistency from and accessibility to ICLEI by local governments, allied organizations, expert interests, and colleagues interested in working together to advance climate, sustainability, and energy work at the local level.
Please stay tuned for further details on our move and the new programs and initiatives we will be launching as we anticipate ICLEI’s next level of growth. In the coming months, the current U.S. headquarters in Oakland, CA, will transform to serve primarily the needs of our robust and active network of California members. We are working harder than ever to support local governments across the country and the world to advance climate protection, energy efficiency, and sustainability. 

In the meantime, please contact me directly at if you have thoughts, questions, or ideas regarding our move to D.C. and our continued evolution. This is a transformative moment for ICLEI USA and our members, and I genuinely look forward to hearing from you.

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Earth Hour Shines the Light on Las Vegas

by Don Knapp Mar 28, 2009

Las Vegas Earth Hour

Even when it turns off the lights, Las Vegas has a way of outshining other cities. To hype up Earth Hour, Vegas style, the City brought out showgirls to prance and pose with the World Wildlife Fund panda. In a City-produced PSA video, Donny and Marie Osmond drummed up support for the cause, and in another PSA, Alanis Morissette, uh, clipped her toenails to fight climate change.

Hey, it worked. Hundreds of people showed up on the strip and were given glow sticks as they watched the casino lights go black, one by one. Perhaps thousands more in the city dimmed their lights and maybe even learned for the first time why using energy creates greenhouse gas emissions and leads to global warming. Yes, the same thing happened in 4,000 cities across the world, but Vegas’ event is a big deal to me: One of the brightest cities in the world went dark for a full hour. Vegas has always been symbolic, but now we have to ask, symbolic of what?

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Block Grant Allocations Map

by Don Knapp Mar 26, 2009

DOE has created a handy, interactive U.S. map with links to display allocation amounts for  Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program funding--by state, county, and city. Check it out.

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Energy Efficiency Block Grants: It's a Go

by Don Knapp Mar 25, 2009


Image credit: U.S. Department of Energy

DOE today released guidance and allocation amounts for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program. Cities, counties, states, territories, and Indian tribes can now apply for $3.2 billion appropriated to EECBG.

Local governments are going to need support--from DOE, ICLEI, Climate Communities, and each other--to untangle and clarify the application process and set up strategies for how they'll implement this unprecedented funding. More to come--a lot more!

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Residential Green Building Code in Santa Fe, NM

by Rena Ragimova Mar 09, 2009

The Achievement

Adopted in March of 2009, the Santa Fe Residential Green Building Code sets a high energy efficiency standard for all new residential construction, with larger homes required to meet increasingly stringent energy use performance benchmarks (homes above 8,000 heated square feet are actually required to produce the same amount of energy that they expect to use). In addition, the code requires that new homes meet a minimum standard in six categories: implementation plan and lot development, resource efficiency, energy efficiency, water efficiancy, indoor environmental quality and operation, maintenance, and sustainable practices. In order to fit local circumstances and garner the support of the local building community, the code also addresses local conditions, including traditions in solar adobe and alternative building materials, the concept of offsetting existing water use in the community for water conservation, and a focus on building envelope and deign efficiency.


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Seattle, WA, Expands Composting Program

by Rena Ragimova Mar 05, 2009

The Achievement

Beginning in April 2009, single-family households in Seattle, Wash., will be able to include meat, fish, and dairy products with their vegetable, fruit, and yard waste. The all-material organics will be picked up every week and taken to a composting facility. Table scraps will no longer be waste, but instead become a resource for the city's gardens.

The Benefits

Municipal composting programs can divert a significant amount of waste from landfills and provide soil rich in nutrients for gardens and landscaping.

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