Philadelphia, Oakland and six other U.S. cities will get free help this coming year from sustainable building and development experts who'll take a fresh look at the towns through a green lens.
The aim of the free consultations is to accelerate green neighborhood development by helping cities understand how to transform urban communities into places that offer a balanced mix of residential, commercial and recreational areas, which are easily accessible on foot, bikes and public transportation. Ideally, the communities would embody the triple bottom line by being good for the well-being of people, prosperous and kinder to the planet than the existing built environment.
The consultations are being provided by the sustainability-focused nonprofit Global Green USA through funding from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency's Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program.
Global Green USA, an arm of Green Cross International, contends cities are responsible for as much as 70 percent of global warming pollution and is working to counter climate change.
Cities vied for inclusion in the organization's consultation program, and the winners were selected based on factors that included the strength of sustainability projects they have planned, the level of community engagement, urgency and need for help.
Philadelphia and Oakland, Calif., both of which have detailed climate action plans, are the two largest cities selected for the Global Green USA program. The others are Dearborn, Mich.; Eden Prairie, Minn.; Greensboro, N.C.; Lafayette, Ind.; Lakewood, Colo.; and Louisville, Ky.
The consultation team begins its work in February and over the next six months will spend three days in each city and then make recommendations on infrastructure and policy changes that are intended to further development of sustainable communities.
The team will be basing its assessments on the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard for Neighborhood Development. The standard known as LEED-NC formally launched in 2010 after three years of pilot testing.
The standard was established as a national benchmark for sustainable community design, but even in the testing phase it drew international interest. Two-hundred-thirty-nine projects in six countries were registered under LEED-NC during the pilot.
Image CC licensed by Flickr user michaelwm25.