Hi and welcome to Sustainability Works!


Sustainability Works is the new blog of the APWA Center for Sustainability.   In this space you will find updates from the Center for Sustainability, news and information on current hot topics, announcements for potential funding opportunities and other resources from APWA.  The APWA Center for Sustainability was created in 2008 by the APWA Board of Directors to integrate the principles of sustainability into public works management.   Posts to the blog will primarily come from the APWA Director of Sustainability but every once in a while, we will invite guest bloggers to share their thoughts and ideas with the APWA community.   Participation and comments in the conversations that are started by each post is encouraged.  The Center Leadership Group sees this space as a place for a conversation and to share ideas and tips with peers about what sustainability in public works means. 


Last month Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh, PA welcomed public works and sustainability professionals to the 2012 Sustainability in Public Works Conference.  Were you there?


This year's conference brought together sustainability experts and public works innovators from across the US and Canada to explore the latest trends, best practices and newest approaches to developing sustainable infrastructure and services in their communities. 


The conference was kicked off with a keynote address from Mayor Patrick Henry Hayes from North Little Rock, AR and current President of ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability USA. Mayor Hayes explained to the audience how his commitment the next generation along with the need to provide for economic development in his community led him to undertake an ambitious plan to transform North Little Rock.  Attendees at the conference had many great presentations (visit http://www.apwa.net/sustainability to see many of the handouts from these presentations) and technical tours to choose from including lessons from Monaca Borough where they are reaping big savings and other benefits  by transforming lighting in their communities; lessons on how a SMARTRAFFIC system can improve highway efficiency; and lessons from two communities who have embraced green infrastructure; and technical  tours to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and the Allegheny County green roof.  Another highlight of the conference was the buzz around the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) and the EnvisionTM Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System.  There were two excellent presentations that demonstrated how EnvisionTM can be used in the planning and evaluating of projects and exposed attendees to the benefits that using the system can provide.  ISI also had a booth in the exhibit hall where interested attendees could learn more about ISI and how they can get involved. 


All in all the conference was a great success and staff at national could not have done it without the support and assistance from the Western PA Chapter of APWA, Allegheny County.  Both were great hosts.  As a mater of fact, the County Executive issued a proclamation recognizing APWA for its work and commending the association for its efforts to educate its members on sustainability in public works.  (read the Proclamation here).  Finally a big thanks goes to Cathy Trexlor and her team of great volunteers who helped staff ensure that all ran smoothly.  

If you were able to join us in Pittsburgh feel free to share your thoughts below.  If you couldn't make it this year, hopefully you can make it to next year's conference.  Planning is already underway.  Consider submitting a proposal (http://www.apwa.net/conferences/cfp for more details) and check back for new details about the 2013 Sustainability in Public Works conference.



IBM and the Smarter Cities Challenge is partnering with 100 cities around the globe to solve complex urban challenges, awarding $50 million worth of services and technology over three years. IBM will contribute the time and expertise of  top experts from different business units and geographies, putting them on the ground for three weeks to work closely with city leaders and deliver recommendations on how to make the city smarter and more effective. 


In 2012, IBM worked with several Amerian cities on innovative solutions to solve complex local challenges. 


In Austin, TX, the IBM teamwas asked to investigate ways to address lingering disparities between East and West Austin, and propose a framework for the city to better coordinate and prioritize its infrastructure investments. The team delivered recommendations about transforming the delivery of social services, adopting a multi-modal approach to transportation planning, sharing data across city agencies, improving city communications, and creating an integrated planning process supported by an enterprise architecture. 


The IBM team in Mecklenburg County analyzed the feasibility of integrating the capital master planning in Mecklenburg County across multiple jurisdictions and issue areas, including parks, greenways, trails, recreation centers, libraries, schools, college campuses, residential and commercial developments, government facilities, transportation corridors, pedestrian and bicycle routes and watersheds.


In Providence, RI IBM helped the city plan for the reclaimation of 19.5 acres of land from the rerouting of Interstate 195, a freeway whose path through the Jewelry District isolated the area from the wave of revitalization that swept downtown Providence. The development of a new Knowledge District on this land requires the coordination of city agencies, state officials, developers and non-profit organizations. Mayor Angel Taveras challenged the IBM Team to create actionable recommendations for better, data-driven land use management, with systems that will promote the robust development of the city within and beyond the Knowledge District. The team identified four focus areas: organization, processes, technology, and performance, with recommendations that facilitate greater efficiency, greater alignment, better collaboration, more transparency and clear measurements. A better land use management system will enable the City to foster economic development by delivering more predictable review and approval times.


 When selecting the 2012 Smarter Cities Challenge grant recipients, several key criteria were considered.

The cities had to be prepared to match IBM's investment with their own commitment of time and resources. Proposals articulating pressing urban concerns that could be addressed by implementing *smarter* technologies and processes rose to the top of the list. Access to publicly available data that could leverage the capabilities of City Forward was an important consideration. And cities that demonstrated a solid track record of innovative problem solving were also viewed favorably.


You can learn more about the challenge and how to apply by visiting Smarter Cities Challenge.


Guest Post by Keith Reester, Director of Public Works, Loveland, Co.

Every day we build! Public works builds roads, bridges, sidewalks, and parks…are we doing it in a way that makes our communities better today and in the future?  If we look across our nation we face a dynamic shift in demographics and in community health; our population is aging and also rapidly growing in girth. So what difference does that make to public works professionals?


We are the managers of the built environment in our communities; we take the lead in assuring access by cars, bikes, and pedestrians. In many communities our past decisions now haunt our present as we try to build our way into a form of multi-modal connectivity. Some of us will discount the new efforts to add bike lanes at the expense of move vehicle travel lanes, or divert a portion of our dwindling and hard fought capital dollars to projects that seem to have far less users for the cost we pay for them. But part of building sustainable communities is about interconnecting neighborhoods and access to services that residents want and need. Sometimes it is being the leader in making this happen while in others it takes being a follower. In many communities the discussion of sustainability wraps around integrating and changing the built environment for better ecosystems and health.

In the past year HBO Films has developed series of films, The Weight of the Nation, highlighting what the United States faces in terms of obesity and the factors that contribute to its rapid rise. The link to the short film below (19 minutes) highlights changes in Nashville, Tennessee and watch for our peers on the Nashville team as they work through changes in community infrastructure to transform the health of their community.


Another interesting film on the built environment and communities in featured in the one-hour documentary Urbanized http://urbanizedfilm.com/


So what are you doing in your community to  integrate and change the built environment for better ecosystems and health?


The Center for Sustainability Leadership Group is proud to announce the release of a new video that highlights the role public works plays in creating sustainable communities.  The goal of the Center in creating this video was to inform, educate and inspire you to learn more about practical and effective sustainable projects and solutions.  The video highlights innovative projects in seven cities across the US and Canada that are creating vibrant communities by balancing the environmental, economic and social needs of their communities.   The projects featured in the video reflect a broad range of municipalities and solutions to different community challenges and are easily replicable by other communities.   


As you watch the video think about how you are contributing to sustainability in your community --  – I bet most of you already have sustainable projects in your community.  Public works professionals have always been focused on creating and maintaining the quality of life in our cities and towns.  Also, as you watch, think about how you can implement similar projects and solutions in your community or what additional information or resources you need to create sustainable communities.  The Center for Sustainability Leadership Group created this video to help inform and inspire you because as President Diane Linderman says in the video “ …regardless of the size of your town, the climate, location or the financial resources you have at your disposal, we – as public works professionals—along with the people that live in our communities  -- together, we are all stewards of sustainability.” 


One DVD copy of the 22 minute video, along with additional materials from the Center for Sustainability, will be sent to all APWA Chapters in September, and Chapters and Branches are able to request additional copies of the DVD by contacting Julia Anastasio at janastasio@apwa.net for chapter and branch use. 





Runtime: 23:03                                                                                                   Watch on APWATV


Guest post by Jeralee Anderson, Executive Director, Greenroads Foundation.

As part of their growing membership and education programs, Greenroads Foundation developed a professional credential to complement its Project Rating Program and to advance sustainability education for the transportation industry. The Greenroads Team launched its first examination, called the STP Alpha Exam, for transportation professionals in mid-September. They recently announced the list of the first 25 Sustainable Transportation Professionals (STP) who have completed the exam successfully. You can see a list of them here. The first group of STPs represents 8 states and 5 countries!


The Greenroads STP is currently analogous to LEED’s entry level professional credential, the LEED Green Associate. In light of the previous post about the USGBC’s LEED Rating System and its Accredited Professional program, it is worth mentioning that while the Greenroads’ STP is structured similarly, there are several important differences.


  • Like LEED, Greenroads STPs can earn points on Greenroads Projects through a Custom Credit and it is voluntary to do so. The STP Credential is not required to participate on a Greenroads Project or submit documents to Greenroads on behalf of the Project. The STP does need to be actively engaged in a Project’s Certification, but also does not need to represent a specific organization, owner, or contractor in order to earn a point.
  • A team of STPs can earn points for Projects, as a way to encourage integrated teams of design and construction professionals. This is a direct response to several public comments Greenroads developers received referencing the issue of “sustainable project management” for transportation projects.
  • There are currently no minimum education requirements to get an STP, so there is also no initial application process to become an STP Candidate. The intended audience for the exam is anyone who works with transportation projects, with an emphasis on roadways.
  • A STP is an individual has demonstrated his or her knowledge of basic principles of sustainable transportation design and construction practices, as well as a general knowledge of the Greenroads Rating System and how the Project Rating Program works. However, detailed knowledge of credits and requirements in Greenroads is not needed to pass the exam.
  • The STP Exam is an educational benefit of active membership in the Greenroads organization. The Exam is free to individual members, and anyone who is involved in or interested in sustainable transportation is encouraged to join as a member.


In the future, Greenroads also plans to build out the STP program with higher levels of specialization in the Rating System over time. The next level exam is planned for launch in early- to mid- 2013.


How to Learn More and Get Involved


By the way, APWA is an important educational partner and member organization of Greenroads. Julia Anastasio currently serves on Greenroads Foundation’s Board of Directors with other representatives of the transportation industry.


Everyday when I open my inbox I find a new report or set of best practices relating to sustainability.  Here's one that from AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials')  Center  Environmental Excellence that documents how state transportation departments, municipal planning organizations, and transit providers are putting into practice proven techniques that are speeding up project delivery and cutting costs while protecting and even improving environmental resources.

Leaner and Greener: Sustainability at Work in Transportation issued by AASHTO, in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration, showcases some of the many ways transportation agencies are simultaneously cutting costs, helping the environment, and strengthening communities.


In a previous post, I told you about a project APWA's Center for Sustainability has been participating in with several of our partners, including The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) , the National Association of Counties (NACo), the National League of Cities (NLC), and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).  Shortly before the end of the year we  announce the release of a new livability resource, Livability Literature Review: A Synthesis of Current Practice. This new comprehensive report describes how livability is understood, provides examples of livable communities in practice, and adds clarity to several concepts.

In order to build and improve upon the work of the partnership, we are still seeking case studies that showcase how you are creating more livable communities.  We have put together a simple survey monkey form for you to use to submit your stories today.  These case studies will showcase the important work in which your community is engaged and help future communities create more livable communities. Click HERE to share your case study.


APWA Center for Sustainability Logo


The members of the APWA Center for Sustainability Leadership Group are pleased to release the Center’s Strategic Plan and Action Plan


Since its creation, the APWA Center for SUstainability has developed a series of tools, resources and professional development programs to further its goals and objectives.  Now that a foundation has been laid for sustainability in public works, the Center Leadership Group determined that it was the appropriate time to take a step back and evaluate where we have been and where we would like to be in the long term. 


Since July of 2012, the members of the APWA Center for Sustainability Leadership Group have been developing a five year strategic plan to guide the Center’s efforts and activities in the coming years  The goal of the strategic planning effort was to identify the strategies and tactics, resource requirements and an implementation plan that will enable the Center for Sustainability to continue to bring the principles of sustainability to the public works profession.  In formulating the plan, the Center Leadership Group identified that the building of sustainable communities is the greatest challenge to public works in the 21st Century. 


The adopted Strategic Plan focusses on meeting this challenge and recommits APWA as an organization to the promotion and support of public works professionals’ efforts to advance sustainability in their communities.  The Strategic Plan identifies six goals for the next five years: 


(1) institutionalize sustainability principles and practices into all APWA operations so that APWA as an organization can demonstrate its commitment to sustainability;

(2) design and execute an effective marketing and outreach program on APWA Center for Sustainability activities, resources and accomplishments;

(3) leverage existing APWA resources, programs and initiatives to fully integrate sustainability throughout all APWA offerings;

(4) promote and support the Institute for Sustainable infrastructure and the EnvisionTM Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System;

(5)  develop the next generation of sustainability leaders; and

(6)  establish APWA as a leader on sustainability with other organizations considered key to influencing community sustainability.   


The Center Leaders also identified a series of activities they can implement to ensure that the six identified goals of the strategic plan are implemented.  For instance, the strategy identifies the integration of sustainable components or principles into the curriculum of APWA’s professional development activities to ensure that we are providing APWA members with the latest information on applying sustainability principles to public works management.  The Strategic Plan also identifies highlighting the role the EnvisionTM  rating system can play in helping a community meet its sustainability goals.   Each of the goals and action items identified in the plan continues to solidify the foundation for public works professionals to take the lead in building sustainable communities for the 21st Century.    The Strategic Plan also clarifies and further refines the role of the APWA Center for Sustainability. The APWA Center for Sustainability exisits to inform APWA members on best practices, tools, and knowledge, identifies and communicates a compelling case for sustainability in public works, and creates,complies, organizes and distributes information on creating sustainable communities.


Over the coming weeks, months and years the APWA Center for Sustainability Leadership Group will be working to see that the mission and vision of the APWA Center for Sustainability and the goals and actions identified in the Strategic Plan and Action Steps are fulfilled. 


To review the full Strategic Plan and Action Steps click here.


It’s been a busy few months for the Institute of Sustainable Infrastructure


Stantec has become the most recent company to commit to getting at least 100 of its employees credentialed as ENV SPs this year. Other “fast track” companies are Arcadis, Arup, HDR, and Psomas.

This month’s edition of the APWA Reporter has two terrific articles on EnvisionTM.

    - Vicki Vickery Quiram and Carl Quirams’ article: Envision – The tool that creates confidence.
    - Kim Lundren’s article ENV SP: The only accreditation I will ever have.

Many ENV SPs will be speaking at next week's 2013 APWA Sustainability in Public Works Conference.

     - Ann Radil will give a presentation on "Using Envision to Advance the Practice of Sustainable Design and    Construction"
     - Katherine Gies will discuss "Achieving Wastewater Treatment Plant Sustainability Goals Using Envision"
    - David Reardon and Stephane Laroque will talk about "Sustainable ROI: Making the Business Case for Sustainability"
    - Kim Lundgren will discuss "Assessing Vulnerabilities of Infrastructure to Climate Change"
     - Jay Bockish will present a "Comparison of Transportation Sustainability Rating Systems"
     - Rene Vidales will participate in a panel discussion of "North Park San Diego: From Historic Neighborhood to Sustainable Community"


The Center for Sustainability has also added new EnvisionTM resources to its website to help public works departments join ISI and to incorporate sustainability principles into RFPs.


ISI has added a new feature to its website that will help you find speakers or presenters for your conferences or meetings.  You can now "Request a Speaker" for your event or group to learn more about EnvisionTM.   Download the form at the bottom of the Resources tab on ISI's website.



Everyday I receive messages annoucing new webinars, reports or resources.  Here is a sampling of items I received this week:


100 Urban Trends: A Glossary of Ideas from the BMW Guggenheim Lab—New York, Berlin, and Mumbai



Over the past two years, the BMW Guggenheim Lab, a mobile urban laboratory centered around the topic of life in cities today, has offered free programs and workshops and implemented urban projects in New York City (August 3–October 16, 2011), Berlin (June 15–July 29, 2012), and Mumbai (December 9–January 20, 2013). Created as a resource, 100 Urban Trends aims to identify the most talked-about trends in urban thinking, as they were discussed in these three venues. Each individual glossary offers 100 contextualized definitions that apply to the way we understand, design, and live in cities.


Integral to 100 Urban Trends is the concept of cities as “idea makers.” In cities, people come together, share their thoughts and common interests, and generate the ideas that shape our world. Dense, growing cities have been and continue to be the catalyst for human progress, powered by daily proximity among their citizens as much as anything else. Despite some of the drawbacks of such massive urban centers, they may well embody the future for human life. Today’s cities are competing to attract more people; greater urban density can mean more conflict, but it can also produce a greater diversity of viewpoints and more opportunity for positive change.


In recent years, there has been an unequivocal shift in the study of cities. Urban thinking, whether related to architecture or urbanism, has become dramatically less focused on infrastructure, and more on the ultimate goal and reason for the existence of cities — that is, the well-being of the people that inhabit them and constitute their very soul and essence. “Cluster,” “concentrate,” and “collaborate” seem to have become the three big Cs of urban thinking of late — but that story is not new. Clustering, searching for a concentration of people, and finding ways to collaborate have been part of the human experience since prehistoric times. Then, as now, people gathered in search of protection, conviviality, and exchange.


The terms presented here reflect this type of urban exchange. They are new and old, classic and ephemerally fashionable. Among them are some of urbanism’s “usual suspects,” which interestingly, keep reappearing in the urban discourse of the early twenty-first century. Each definition concludes with an example of a Lab program that illustrated the relevance and context of that term. Some terms are shared between the three glossaries, as they proved relevant in all of the Lab’s locations.


What do people talk about today when they discuss the future of cities? Many things. Find some of them here—and tell us about the Urban Trends people are talking about now in your city.

100 Urban Trends: A Glossary of Ideas from the BMW Guggenheim Lab was written by Maria Nicanor, Curator, BMW Guggenheim Lab; Amara Antilla and Stephanie Kwai, Curatorial Assistants, BMW Guggenheim Lab; and Christine McLaren, Resident Writer, BMW Guggenheim Lab.


Listening Session: EPA's Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities

Register Here

Date: June 11, 2013

Time: 3:00pm - 4:00pm EDT


EPA is creating a training program for public agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide technical assistance to communities. The training program will help staff understand EPA's Building Blocks tools and incorporate them into their technical assistance. During this listening session, EPA will gather input from key stakeholders on how best to design the training program, addressing the following questions: Who is the best target audience for this kind of training? Should it be a one-day training, two-day training, or some other format? Should training sessions be coordinated with major national conferences or held as separate events?


Sustainability Coordinator's Workshop

 Learn More Here

Date: July 31 - August 4, 2013

Location: Grand Lakes, Colorado


This four-day workshop, hosted by the National League of Cities' Sustainable Cities Institute, will address the unique sustainability needs of small to medium-size communities. Led by a team of experienced city sustainability directors, this workshop will guide participants through the concepts, challenges, strategies and opportunities to create strong, healthy and sustainable communities. City sustainability directors from Missouri, Arizona, and Colorado will lead participants through the program and share their on-the-ground experiences.


Building Better Budgets: A National Examination of the Fiscal Benefits of Smart Growth Development


This new publication from Smart Growth America surveys 17 studies that compare different urban and suburban development scenarios. The analysis found that that smart growth development generates 10 times more tax revenue per acre than conventional suburban development, saves an average of 10 percent on ongoing delivery of services, and costs one-third less for upfront infrastructure.


Organizing to Promote Targeted Improvements in Our Neighborhoods (OPTIONs): Community Engagement Workbook  


Smart Growth America has released this new workbook designed to help encourage and aid community engagement in the brownfields redevelopment process. The workbook contains seven worksheets with instructions designed to help community groups think about how to organize, what they need, and how to build a strategy to participate in the redevelopment process.


FRED - Free Energy Database


Free Energy Data "FRED" is a new open platform to help state and local governments, energy planners and policy-makers, private industry, and others to effectively visualize, analyze and compare energy-use data to make better energy decisions and sustainable strategies. FRED gathers complex, disparate energy datasets and distills them down into simple, easy-to-understand graphics, useful to a wide audience, from expert energy planners to non-energy professionals and the interested public. FRED strives to become an open exchange where users can compare and share their own data against others in FRED, becoming a resource for energy policy decision-making. Read more about FRED here.


New Report Showcases Successful Community Engagement Tactics in 14 US Cities


A new report from the National League of Cities (NLC) released this week highlights effective community engagement efforts in 14 communities across the United States. The case studies-which focus closely on innovative work in Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Austin-show new pockets of civic energy emerging in different sectors. The report, Bright Spots in Community Engagement: Case Studies of U.S. Communities Creating Greater Civic Participation from the Bottom Up, was produced in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.


EPA Lists Agencies Providing Help for Brownfields


A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency gives an overview of federal programs that assist in brownfields development and lists the type of financial and technical assistance each program offers. The 2013 Brownfields Federal Programs Guide said that since 1995, EPA's brownfields investments have leveraged more than $19.2 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding from a variety of public and private sources and have resulted in the creation of about 86,200 jobs. The report on brownfields federal programs, posted May 22, is available at http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/partners/brownfields-federal-programs-guide-2013.pdf.



Trees are the Key logo
In late 2010 the U.S. Forest Service and New York Restoration Project (NYRP) launched a national initiative entitled Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests: A National Call to Action to promote and improve urban forests and green infrastructure in our nation’s cities and municipalities.  As a result of the workshop, the Vibrant Cities Task Force crafted a vision, set of recommendations and action steps that can improve our cities over the next decade and beyond and released the Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests Report.

Bringing together the observations and recommendations of 25 experts across multiple disciplines, the Vibrant Cities Report presents a new framework for understanding the benefits of urban and community forestry.  Offering a cohesive and cogent statement for what urban and community forestry means to our cities, the Report establishes a vision, highlights emerging trends, and culminates with a series of recommendations that can be applied to urban areas across the U.S.

The vision of the Report is to “explore the implications of integrated natural and built urban environments and their possibilities for the future.”  Put another way, the aim of the Vibrant Cities Report is to show how urban and community forestry can be used to solve problems that face our cities, particularly in areas that are not immediately obvious.  Most notably, the Report calls out how the urban forest, working as green infrastructure by complementing the built environment to address issues such as stormwater runoff, functions as part of a larger urban ecosystem.  Taking another example, the benefits of trees also extend to the realm of public health through their ability to mitigate air pollution and extreme heat in cities.

By framing urban forestry as a solution to not only the environmental, but also the social, economic and public health issues that face cities, the Report empowers decision makers to unlock the myriad benefits offered by trees and green infrastructure.


In 2012 in an effort to keep the momentum going after the release of the Vibrant Cities Report, the Sustainable Urban Forestry Coalition (SUFC), of which APWA is a member, accepted a challenge by the Us Forest Service to catalyze action around the recommendations under the banner of Vibrant Communities: Trees Are the Key.

In 2013, SUFC unveiled an open-source Trees Are the Key communications platform and toolkit to bring its partners and allies together around a common purpose: to raise awareness about the Vibrant Cities recommendations and the critical role urban forests play in growing and maintaining healthy, resilient, equitable and vibrant communities. 


The new web-based toolkit includes a "how-to" guide -- to help spread the word about the Vibrant Cities recommendations and the benefits of trees to our communities. These tools, including web content, a self-guided Prezi presentation, an electronic brochure, presentation slides, issue-specific talking points, a sample proclamation, live-read radio PSAs, letters to the editor, and a model op-ed, are all open-source materials available for you and your organizations to adapt and use as you see fit.




Envision Logo


The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) announced that the first Envision™ rating system project award went to the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery in Anchorage, Alaska.   The HDR-designed project received an Envision™ “Gold” award. The 141,000-square foot hatchery facility is the largest indoor sport fish hatchery in North America, and contains many sustainable features, including sophisticated recirculation technology that reduces by 95% the water and energy normally used by conventional hatcheries.


To view a video on the William Jack Hernandez Fish Hatchery, visit the HDR Fish Hatchery link at: http://www.hdrinc.com/about-hdr/sustainability/envision/first-ever-envision-project-award-william-jack-hernandez-sport-fis?utm_source=hdrinc-news&utm_medium=website-link&utm_campaign=wjh-award


The hatchery’s Gold-level Envision™ award represents significant achievements in sustainable infrastructure design. The project was assessed using the 60 Envision™ sustainability criteria in the categories of Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Risk.


The sustainability aspects of the Fish Hatchery that garnered high-level ratings included leaving the brownfield site cleaner than before, saving water and energy, keeping Ship Creek clean, and building public education into its design. Additional higher levels of achievement were concentrated in several Envision™ structure credit categories, including the following:


  • Leadership Category: Pursued by-product synergy: The project formed a partnership to transfer waste from the operations of the facility as input to another facility, and evaluated the potential to make use of warm water from a neighboring industry.


  • Leadership Category: Improved infrastructure integration: The project repurposed existing water and sewer infrastructure; created connections to existing bike trails and created a parallel bike trail through a park-like setting, while clarifying traffic flow and protecting the stream; restored and improved public park-like setting and viewing areas with trails, boardwalk, and educational signs.


  • Quality of Life: Improved the net quality of life of all communities affected by the project and mitigated community impacts. The project improved user accessibility, safety and wayfinding of the site and surrounding areas. It also enhanced public space including improvement of public parks, plazas, recreational facilities, or wildlife refuges to enhance community livability.


  • Resource Allocation: Reduced energy use: The project piloted and later implemented a full scale, highly efficient, recirculated aquaculture system that reduced the energy needed to heat the process water, ventilation, and building heating by approximately 88%, while significantly reducing operating costs and maintaining production goals.


  • Natural World: Preserved greenfields: The project included the environmental restoration of a former military brownfield and greyfield site, including the cleanup of contaminated soils.


  • Natural World: Reduced pesticide and fertilizer impacts: The project team designed the landscaping to incorporate native plant species suitable to the Alaskan climate, requiring no pesticides, herbicides or ongoing fertilizers.


The ISI/ HDR announcement marks a significant achievement for APWA’s own sustainability efforts.  Since its formation in 2008, APWA has been working to identify the best tools, practices and theories to make incorporating sustainability into public works projects second nature.  The collaboration with ISI, Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University Graduate School of Design and with our fellow association partners, ASCE and ACEC, is a keystone component of the APWA Center for Sustainability activities.   



Neighborwoods Month logo





Every October, community groups, city residents, local government, and volunteers across the country unite for greener communities during Alliance for Community Trees’ National NeighborWoods® Month . Together, they’ll plant trees, green up neighborhood parks, restore natural areas, eliminate invasives, and educate youth about trees, the environment, and sustainability.


It’s a coast-to-coast campaign to take action for trees in our communities. There’s lots to celebrate, and a lot at stake. Last year, the U.S. Forest Service found  that tree cover in urban areas of the U.S. is on the decline at a rate of about 4 million trees per year.


Yet trees in cities are critical to people’s health and the larger environment. Trees are a community’s lungs, providing us oxygen and removing air pollution. A 2013 U.S. Forest Service study  in 10 major U.S. cities showed that urban forests clean the air and save lives.


Trees in cities also reduce stress and provide a sense of well-being. A recent survey found that urban dwellers with access to trees, parks, and green spaces reported less mental distress and higher life satisfaction than those without these nearby. Trees and landscaping can also improve residential property values up to 30% or more.


Last year during National NeighborWoods® Month, over 23,000 volunteers planted 45,000 trees nationwide, donating volunteer time worth an estimated $1.4 million. Check out the infographic on the results and the impact to people and our planet.


Tree Planting


Each year these 45,000 trees are estimated to:


  • Capture 23.1M gallons of storm water.
  • Dispose of over 660 tons of air pollutants.
  • Save cities nearly $600,000 in storm water management and pollution costs.


To encourage Americans to participate in National NeighborWoods® Month and bring the many benefits of trees  to all our communities, the USDA is partnering with us to help spread the word. In a video message, Butch Blazer, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, encourages everyone to “get involved both personally and professionally.”


There are already hundreds of local tree events being organized for this national celebration. To kick off the month, Alliance for Community Trees is proud to partner with national sponsors to support local tree plantings. For example, TD Tree Days planting events will install over 900 new trees in 15 cities to expand and restore urban canopy—like in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, where 75 new trees will help the city to replant after Superstorm Sandy.


CSX and community volunteers will plant 100 new street and shade trees in Nashville's Buena Vista neighborhood, which has the city's lowest tree canopy outside downtown. And over 25 events sponsored by CSX will deliver trees to communities through tree giveaways and riparian plantings, improving the health of community watersheds and residential neighborhoods. 


People understand instinctively that trees are vital to communities and that our collective actions can make a difference. This is why tens of thousands of volunteers pitch in to plant and care for trees with local organizations and city governments during October’s National NeighborWoods® Month.


Get involved. Register any tree events you're holding this month to be part of the celebration, or find events near you to volunteer. Together we're showing that trees matter in our communities. Please join with us at www.NeighborWoodsMonth.org.


Leland Milstein

Leland Milstein is Program Director at Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees), a national nonprofit dedicated to improving the health and livability of cities by planting and caring for trees. Leland manages ACTrees' public programs including National NeighborWoods® Month, Community Groves℠, tree planting, and education. He holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University.


Over the past several years, APWA has been working with the EPA Office of Water and other national associations in the sector to bring useful resources and tools on sustainable utility management.  The first set of resources developed through this collaboration was the Effective Utility Management attributes and Primer.  Building upon the success of that project and in an effort to fulfill the President’s sustainability goals, the Office of Water partnered with the US Department of Agriculture to produce resources specific to small and rural communities. 


EPA Rural Guidebook Cover


This effort is modeled on the Effective Utility Management Initiative. The first, a new Rural and Small Systems Guidebook to Sustainable Utility Management, will help such systems assess the effectiveness of their operations, prioritize potential improvements, and develop an action plan to address these priorities. The second, a “Workshop in a Box,” contains a series of materials and instructions to help both rural and small systems and service providers market and conduct workshops based on the guidebook. For more information and to access these tools: http://www.apwa.net/DR/index.asp?ID=1700.


Workshop in Box Cover


Envision Logo


The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure continues to develop and refine the Envision rating system.  Part of the refinement includes the development of the development of a business case evaluator tool.  ISI is seeking feedback on an Envision economic companion tool for stormwater.


Economic factors are an essential component of sustainable infrastructure, along with environmental and social considerations. The business case for sustainable infrastructure goes beyond a return on investment: it also includes infrastructure effectiveness, costs, reliability, and livability. These factors contribute to how communities perceive these infrastructure projects which in turn has a real dollar value associated with it.


This Envision Economic tool, called the Business Case Evaluator, is being developed by Impact Infrastructure, LLC, which is a Charter Member of ISI. The Business Case Evaluator (BCE) provides a value-based and risk-adjusted analysis of stormwater infrastructure projects and maps these to the Envision credits. Once it is finalized based on public input, the BCE will be offered at no cost through the ISI website.


There are several economic tools that are being developed in parallel in different agencies, companies, and research organizations that fill the unique needs of different infrastructure sectors and geographic locations. ISI encourages the development of these tools and will continue to provide an opportunity for public feedback to strengthen the metrics and tools that will be made publically available.


The Business Case Evaluator for Stormwater Management, user manual and documentation can be found at sustainableinfrastructure.org/tools/stormwater/index.cfm.


Please send your comments to ISI by October 17th.  ISI has provided an online comment form for you to use. 


[update: July 12, 2013 post: Fleet Program Saves $300K and Provides Zero Emission Platform]


Loveland Nissan Leaf


In July of this year, Sustainability Works! Reported on the City of Loveland, Colorado's plans to add zero emissions vehicles to its fleet.   Now,GreenFleet Magazine has published an update on the city's efforts:  http://www.greenfleetmagazine.com/news/51751/city-of-loveland-moves-ahead-with-electric-vehicles?utm_campaign=Green-Fleet-Enews-20131014&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter


The Public Works department in partnership with the Electrification Coalition just released a case study on its efforts.    According to the case study, between 2009 and 2011, fuel costs for the City of Loveland’s vehicle fleet increased by 29 percent. This large and rapid upward shift in costs prompted the city to initiate an aggressive alternative--‐fuel vehicle purchasing strategy, focusing initially on battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Though not without early challenges—perceptions of the technology, for example—the vehicles have already proven to be a cost--‐effective addition to the municipal fleet for local service needs. The city has found that the BEVs will cost 41 percent less to own and operate than gasoline--‐powered vehicles.


The city worked closely with the Nissan and a local dealership as it worked to purchase the vehicles and learned more about the technology. Loveland also benefited from Nissan’s municipal lease program, which allows the federal tax credit of $7,500 per vehicle to be incorporated directly into the lease price (public agencies are not typically able to take advantage of the federal tax credit for purchase of an electric vehicle). Today, Loveland’s two Nissan LEAF BEVs are used daily by city employees for a variety of local service activities. With two BEVs already in the fleet, another three on order for 2013, and an additional four for 2014, the city is planning for a future  when electric vehicles service the majority of its needs. The city ultimately aims to meet a goal of converting all fleet vehicles for which no heavy hauling is required and with operational ranges within a 35--‐mile radius of the city to plug--‐in electric vehicles.

Learn more about Loveland’s efforts and see if your community can benefits from a similar effort.  




APWA members – note APWA is a partner organization for this conference and our members will receive a registration discount.  Past President Diane Linderman will be speaking on resiliency in a plenary session.


Special Offer for APWA Members: AGC Contractors Environmental Conference
June 12-13, 2014 | Arlington, Va.

The Associated General Contractors of America will hold its third Contractors Environmental Conference on June 12-13, in Arlington, Va.  As an Industry Partner for this conference, APWA Members receive a savings of $100 off the non-AGC member rates that kick in on April 26.


From leadership in sustainability to compliance with legal requirements, the 2014 AGC CEC will provide invaluable resources for environmental professionals in the construction industry. Here are five reasons why you should attend: (1) Learn how to manage the issues that keep you up at night before they result in an emergency situation; (2) Get up-to-date information on compliance and sustainability issues that most often show up on your to-do list; (3) Hear about initiatives and trends that could be a new source of savings or revenue for your company; (4) Interact and learn from federal agency representatives; and (5) Network with your peers.  Learn more about this year’s conference and register here.


APWA Members can take advantage of their membership discounts with a special Industry Partner Code to use during registration.  Start your registration as a “non-AGC member” but then enter the code PTNR14CEC to receive the member rate for normal registration, which begins April 26.  Everyone benefits from the early-bird registration savings through April 25.


In a recent webinar produced by the Sustainable City Network, City of Austin Chief Sustainability Officer Lucia Athens answered the following questions about creating a cross-departmental culture for sustainability in Austin.  These are reprinted with the permission of Sustainable City Network.


Presented 9/4/14 by Lucia Athens, Chief Sustainability Officer

Produced by Sustainable City Network

Sponsored by Crescent Electric Supply Co.


On Leadership and a Common Goal for Sustainability in the City of Austin


Q: How do you get the community’s and City Council's buy-in to support all of these sustainable efforts?

A: Austin’s Mayor, City Council, and City Manager have all been huge supporters and leaders in sustainability. Austin has a very informed and vocal citizenry as well as many NGOs who are champions and watchdogs for sustainability-related topics such as water quality, air quality, habitat protection, renewables, animal rights, and more.


Q: How does the department of sustainability cross-coordinate with other City departments without stepping on their toes?  Any suggestions on how to do that collaboration effectively/efficiently?

A: The Office of Sustainability and Chief Sustainability Officer were placed within the City Manager’s Office in order to enable effective sustainability leadership across 40+ departments. The clear and direct reporting line to the City Manager was key to getting the Office going, as well as achieving buy-in and support for the new Office from other City Departments. Office of Sustainability staff members have established good working relationships with key departmental staff involved in existing sustainability projects. Our team is often sought out for technical advice on particular initiatives or to support major campaigns within other departments.


Q: Describe the inter-departmental efforts to evaluate and implement these programs. Who chairs the meetings, how are decisions made, and how are reluctant department heads persuaded to participate?

A: The responsibility for successfully implementing many sustainability programs city-wide does not always originate in the Office of Sustainability, but instead resides in specific departments with the appropriate subject matter experts. However, on larger cross-departmental initiatives, our Office is tasked with breaking through Department “silos” and bringing those groups together to ensure that each initiative is complementary, to get these groups to see beyond their immediate program, and that everyone is aimed toward a common goal. To do this effectively, my staff and I have devoted significant efforts toward building relationships with internal stakeholders to be able to bring people together to work across departments on sustainability initiatives. Some of our key accomplishments include:

  • Launch of the Sustainability Action Agenda, a comprehensive inventory of activities across multiple departments
  • Achieved Climate Registered Status from the Climate Registry after having the City’s carbon footprint third-party verified
  • Identified key sustainability planning criteria for Capital Improvement Projects and Bond Development
  • Achieved 100% renewable energy for all City operations in 2011
  • Created the Carbon Neutral Fleet Plan to achieve carbon neutrality through hybrid vehicle purchases, alternative fuels, driver behaviors, and the purchase of carbon offset
  • Created a comprehensive scorecard for the City’s operational sustainability 

“I am pleased to announce the addition of Daryl Grigsby, Public Works Director, San Luis Obispo, CA  and Stephane Larocque, SVP, Impact Infrastructure, Toronto, ON to our Center Leadership Team.  Both bring valuable experience to the Center and will help us in further expanding the tools, resources, and knowledge that will make our public works professionals more successful in their efforts to create sustainable communities, ” reported Center for Sustainability Chair Jen Winter.


“Daryl Grigsby has over 32 years of experience in the public works profession and, as a current Public Works Director, can assist the Center in considering leadership, management and implementation issues in sustainability.  He has a diverse public works background, experienced in water, wastewater, transportation and, as public works director for several cities.  He has been involved in sustainable projects such as creating a “Master Bike Plan” for the City of Pomona, CA.   Daryl served as a former national Director for APWA and he continues his passion to be involved in issues that will advance the future of our communities and of the public works profession.  We are fortunate to have such a well-rounded and experienced public works director on the Center Leadership team.


We also are enthused to welcome Stephane Larocque will expand the expertise of our Center Leadership with his extensive background in the field of triple-bottom line economic analysis, which reflects the environmental, social and financial impacts of all manner of infrastructure investment.  Stephane was also one of the original pioneers in the development of the Sustainable Return on Investment (SROI) Framework and will bring a focus on the economics of sustainability to our Leadership Group,” Winter added.


Since its creation in 2009, the APWA Center for Sustainability’s goal has been to serve as a primary resource for APWA’s members regarding sustainability and sustainable practices in public works.  The Center Leadership consists of twelve APWA members from the US and Canada who serve a two year term and whose expertise covers a diverse variety of public works disciplines.