Thursday, June 16, 2005

How does your city rate?

Curious about how "green" your city is? I have three tools for you.

SustainLane's US City Rankings rates 25 cities using 12 areas of comparison. They look at the US Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Environmental & Energy Design) building certification; the availability of farmer's markets; using alternatives to fossil fuels; air and water quality; waste diversion; composting systems; planning, zoning and land use; and city innovation and knowledge base ("how well cities are developing everything from new financial and behavioral incentives, to communications and information management processes and technologies.")

Don't see your city in the rankings?

Tell us what's happening in your city that we should know about, whether or not your city was included in our study. We will be expanding the SustainLane US City Rankings significantly next year to the top 50 cities in America, and will be adding a best practices section to highlight a path for implementation.
This feedback is important for city planners and citizens alike. They can help answer the questions what is possible? What is needed? What is the next step? As well as where are good places to live?

Another tool is the Green Map. This is a map that includes information about green living resources. Its a regular map with collaboratively designed icons on them. They have PDF file that you can download to get a peek at all of the icons and their meanings. They have everything from the location of farmer's markets to protest sites (marked with a big exclamation point).

"Green Maps cultivate citizen participation and community sustainability," by helping "residents discover and get involved in their community's environment, and help[ing] guide tourists (even virtual ones) to special places and successful green initiatives they can replicate back home."
To check and see if there is a green map of your area, look here. Some of them are even on line.

Finally, you might want to evaluate how walkable your community is. This article by Dan Burden will give you the 12 most important things to rate. I'll list them here, but it is worth a few minutes to peruse his very readable prose:
  1. intact town centers
  2. residential densities, mixed income, mixed use
  3. public space
  4. universal design
  5. speed control
  6. streets, trails are well linked
  7. design is properly scaled
  8. town is designed for people
  9. town is thinking small
  10. there are many people walking
  11. town and neighborhoods have a vision
  12. decision makers are visionary, communicative and forward thinking

He also lists some of his favorite walkable communities, which should get you started if you are looking. Dan works with communities of all sizes to make them more pedestrian friendly.

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