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Oakland, CA, Requires Compostable or Recyclable Bags

by Rena Ragimova Feb 24, 2009

The Achievement

A City of Oakland, Calif., ordinance requires retailers to use only compostable or biodegradable plastic bags or paper bags that are 100% recyclable and contain a minimum of 40% post-consumer content. Retailers with gross annual sales of less than $2 million are exempt from the ordinance.

The Benefits

Plastic bags are nonbiodegradable, petroleum products that can sit in landfills for up to 1,000 years. They also clog municipal drains and pollute bodies of water, from rivers to oceans. Reducing or recycling plastic bags lessens landfill waste and requires less bags to be manufactured, which in turn lowers greenhouse gas emissions.

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City of New York Requires Plastic Bag Recycling

by Rena Ragimova Feb 19, 2009

The Achievement

A City of New York ordinance requires stores that occupy 5,000 or more square feet or have more than five branches in the city to install plastic bag recycling bins. The stores also must use bags that read on the side: "Please return this bag to a participating store for recycling."

The Benefits

Plastic bags are nonbiodegradable, petroleum products that can sit in landfills for up to 1,000 years. They also clog municipal drains and pollute bodies of water, from rivers to oceans. Reducing or recycling plastic bags lessens landfill waste and requires less bags to be manufactured, which in turn lowers greenhouse gas emissions.

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Boulder, CO, Makes it Easier for Homeowners and Businesses to go Solar with Rebate Program

by Rena Ragimova Feb 10, 2009

September 2008

The Achievement

In 2007, the city of Boulder issued enough permits for solar (photovoltaic, or PV) systems to produce 1,148 kW of electricity. The average system for homeowners is 3 to 5 kW. In 2008, the city of Boulder issued permits for 758 kW of solar-generated electricity (as of July).

 

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New York Expands Parkland, Open Spaces

by Rena Ragimova Feb 09, 2009

The Achievements

As part of its landmark PlaNYC sustainability plan, City of New York is making strides toward the goal of ensuring that all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park.

  • Over the last five years, the City has added more than 400 acres of new parkland. Much of this is former industrial waterfront sites that were reclaimed after being abandoned for decades.
  • Between 2007 and 2008, the City opened 69 schoolyards as playgrounds, and completed designs for 32 more to be reconstructed in 2008, along with another 20 schoolyard sites for capital construction.
  • Between 2007 and 2008, 52 new greenstreet sites—treelined streets—were added.
  • In 2007, the City was in the planning phase for seven of the eight regional parks projects identified in PlaNYC.

The Benefits

Open spaces and green spaces help cool summer air temperatures, conserve energy by offering shade to homes, reduce stormwater runoff, improve air quality, increase property values, and improve the quality of life for urban residents.

 

[Source: PlaNYC Progress Report 2008] Read more »

Roanoke, VA, Wins Green Government Challenge Thanks to Green Building Retrofits

by Rena Ragimova Feb 08, 2009

The Achievement

The City of Roanoke won first place in the Virginia Municipal League’s 2008 Green Government Challenge, a friendly competition among VML member local governments to encourage the implementation of specific environmental policies and practical actions that reduce carbon emissions.

The City’s focus on energy efficiency helped it win the award. Over the past several years, managers have replaced approximately 700 incandescent bulbs with CFL or T-8 lights in city facilities, both indoor and outdoor. Exit sign lights in all buildings are also being replaced with efficient LEDs or nuclear chip lights. The City has also replaced various chillers, boilers, and rooftop HVAC units with more efficient equipment.

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San Francisco, CA, Bans Plastic Grocery Bags

by Rena Ragimova Feb 05, 2009

The Achievement

In March 2007, San Francisco, Calif., was the first major municipality in the United States to ban plastic grocery bags in supermarkets and pharmacies. The goal was to drastically reduce the 180 million plastic bags used in the city each year. 

The Benefits

Plastic bags are nonbiodegradable, petroleum products that can sit in landfills for up to 1,000 years. They also clog municipal drains and pollute bodies of water, from rivers to oceans. Reducing or recycling plastic bags lessens landfill waste and requires less bags to be manufactured, which in turn lowers greenhouse gas emissions. Read more »

Ann Arbor, MI, Bans, Discourages Buying Bottled Water

by Rena Ragimova Feb 02, 2009

The Achievement

In summer 2007, the Ann Arbor, Mich., City Council banned buying bottled water for city events and urged residents to bring their own reusable bottles.

The Benefits

Reducing or banning the purchase and consumption of bottled water reduces waste, saves money, and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. Plastic bottles are made from petroleum and require energy to produce (which in turn produces greenhouse gases). Also, they are often thrown in the trash, rather than recycled. Transporting all those bottles to landfills via trucks is expensive, and produces greenhouse gases. When a city and its resides reduces bottled water consumption, it means less trash to transport and fill up landfills, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, using tap water is much cheaper than buying bottled water. Municipal tap water is safe and is typically more closely monitored than bottled water.

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Lexington-Fayette, Ky., Joins EPA Million Monitor Drive, Saves 200,000 KWH

by Rena Ragimova Jan 22, 2009

The Achievement

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) in Kentucky joined the EPA Million Monitor Drive. In joining the Million Monitor Drive, the County agreed to enable the power management features on 1,000 of its computers so that they go to sleep when not being used.

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Santa Barbara, CA, Switches From Bottled to Tap Water at City Functions

by Rena Ragimova Jan 22, 2009

The Achievement

In spring 2007, the City of Santa Barbara, Calif., stopped buying bottled water and began serving tap water at city functions.

The Benefits

Reducing or banning the purchase and consumption of bottled water reduces waste, saves money, and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. Plastic bottles are made from petroleum and require energy to produce (which in turn produces greenhouse gases). Also, they are often thrown in the trash, rather than recycled. Transporting all those bottles to landfills via trucks is expensive, and produces greenhouse gases. When a city and its resides reduces bottled water consumption, it means less trash to transport and fill up landfills, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, using tap water is much cheaper than buying bottled water. Municipal tap water is safe and is typically more closely monitored than bottled water.

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Lexington-Fayette, Ky., Greens Its Vending Machines

by Rena Ragimova Jan 22, 2009

The Achievement

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) in Kentucky has reduced the energy consumption of its vending machines in the following ways:

  • Turned off the display lights in many vending machines. This can save as much as $30 per year for each machine and results in a CO2 reduction of over 1,300 pounds/year per machine.
  • Purchased 20 Vending Misers for Parks and Recreation vending machines to further reduce energy usage. These can save approx $175 per year per machine and result in a total CO2 reduction of over 70 metric tons per year.
[Source: Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government website] Read more »

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