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National League of Cities Honors Top Efforts to Improve Quality of Life, Green Towns

The National League of Cities is calling for nominations for its 20th annual Awards for Municipal Excellence program, which recognizes outstanding quality-of life improvements in cities and towns and efforts to preserve environmental resources.

Deadline for the submissions are May 1. Gold and silver award-winners are named in each of four categories based on cities' populations: those with 50,000 residents and less; 50,001 to 150,000; 150,001 to 500,000; and 500,001 and more. More information on the competition and nomination papers are available here.

Winners last year included Bristol, VA, which won gold in the smallest city category, for a sustainability project involving broadband partnerships. The effort made the city the first in the nation to have a public utility implement triple-play broadband over a fiber-to-the-user network.

San Jose also went home with a gold award in 2008 for its Strong Neighborhoods Initiative, a collaborative program begun eight years before to improve blight-ridden neighborhoods and build community relationships.

Winners for environmental projects in past years include the Roanoke, VA, Every Drop Counts water conservation program that began during a drought in 2001–2002. By 2002, the city and its residents had reduced water consumption by 1.3 million gallons compared to the previous year. Roanoke was honored in 2003.

San Diego received an award in 1999 for its part in the California Green Building Demonstration Project, an effort that produced the city's first energy efficient green building. Energy expenses for the building in its first functional year dropped $77,000, a 67 percent savings. Costs plummeted again the next year by $89,000, according to the National League of Cities.

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