Category Archive: sustainable economic development

  1. Eco-Friendly E-Commerce?

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    Given the recent coverage of major online retailers’ blue– and white-collar working conditions, many of us are contemplating the ethical implications of two-day shipping. Sure, it’s convenient, and we all love the immediate gratification of “1-Click” ordering, but at what cost to the environment (and, the workers)? Is there really such a thing as eco-friendly e-commerce? (more…)

  2. The Cap-and-Trade Spigot Opens

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    While the efficacy of California’s cap-and-trade program in reducing the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions continues to be a subject of debate, the program’s ability to generate revenue (almost $1 billion through 2014) has been impressive. And as the pot of cap-and-trade revenue grows, the state is seeing more competing proposals for funding. Over the past month or so, proceeds from the auction of emissions permits have been allocated to a host of new programs for some innovative projects. In addition, the state’s cap-and-trade program is focusing resources to serve more low-income and disadvantaged communities. Passed in 2012, SB 535 requires allocating a minimum of 25 percent of the state’s cap-and-trade revenues to projects that benefit disadvantaged communities; a minimum of ten percent of the proceeds must be used for projects located in disadvantaged communities. With this mandate in mind, we look at a few of the more innovative programs that were awarded funding to help improve our most vulnerable communities. (more…)

  3. The Herb Ain’t Green

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    Indoor agriculture is touted as a way to make urban farming more prevalent, and as a method to sustainably increase food production in arid climates. But the expense of providing artificial light and the relatively high cost of urban land have largely precluded this specialized type of agriculture from widespread adoption. However, there are niche markets where economic incentives make indoor growing appealing in spite of its extraordinarily high energy costs. In the U.S., marijuana production is perhaps the most prominent (and controversial) sector to embrace wholesale indoor cultivation. For the growing list of jurisdictions where cannabis can be grown legally, localities and utility providers are worried about the energy needs of this burgeoning industry. For policymakers, the highly regulated environment for legal marijuana producers presents an opportunity to mandate operational efficiencies. But do other energy-intensive sectors stand to learn a thing or two from sustainably grown pot? (more…)

  4. OneNYC Focuses on Equity

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    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio recently introduced OneNYC, an environmental plan with an emphasis on economic sustainability and addressing issues of income inequality. It is the nation’s largest urban poverty reduction effort, pledging to lift 800,000 residents out of poverty, reduce racial disparities in premature mortality, and create 500,000 housing units. (more…)

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  5. Ditch the Lawn

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    In the wake of mandatory statewide water restrictions and the growing consensus that Californians need to plan for a more arid future, municipalities and water districts are looking to curb urban water use. Rising water rates and dwindling supplies are making lush, expansive lawns an increasingly unsustainable luxury in the West. Popular rebate programs that encourage homeowners and businesses to remove their lawns are expanding. But is it time to put rules in place to limit or even eliminate turf in certain developments? (more…)

  6. Bringing Equity to Transportation’s Sharing Economy

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    Bicycle sharing networks, car share services, and ride hailing applications have been touted as a new means to reduce our reliance on the automobile and give people more mobility options. Unfortunately, the promise of the sharing economy hasn’t been realized by all communities. In California, where communities of color are disproportionately affected by transportation-related pollution, there’s a growing movement to ensure that low-income neighborhoods and vulnerable populations benefit from the state’s investments in clean transportation. How can policy-makers and advocates use this momentum to bring car share and bicycle share services to low-income Californians? (more…)

  7. Curbing Food Waste

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    According to the EPA, food is the largest component of waste going into American landfills, with an estimated 40 percent of our food supply ending up in the trash. Over time, food in our landfills decomposes and releases methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than CO2. Those figures are startling enough, but when you consider the amount of resources that we dedicate to food production, the trends seem especially reckless. Food production consumes “10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States.” So what can we do to make better use of these resources and reduce food waste? State and local policy innovation are proving that there are effective ways to reduce and divert food waste along the entire farm-to-table supply chain. (more…)

  8. Industrial Land is Too Valuable to Lose

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    The popularity of higher density urban areas has led to an uptick in real estate development in many of the nation’s metros. In the quest to provide housing, offices, and retail establishments to would-be urbanites, many cities are sacrificing lands that housed industrial activity. But local governments may be squandering an economic development opportunity by sacrificing job-producing land that can strengthen the local economy. In cities where real estate markets are thriving, the balancing act between preserving industrial lands while meeting housing, commercial office, and retail needs is a precarious one. But some regions are exploring policies that aim to address this challenge, and the early results are promising. (more…)

  9. Promising Practices in Resilience Planning

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    As it becomes apparent that extreme weather events are becoming the new normal, planning to ensure that our communities are prepared to weather a natural disaster is imperative. Faced with a warming planet, limited resources, and a growing global population, governments large and small are rethinking their communities. And much of this new thinking is being done under the banner of building local resilience. But as the term resilience becomes as amorphous as “sustainability,” it’s helpful to focus on the most promising practices in this burgeoning field. As we look at best practices, it becomes clear that the most promising strategies are informed by local knowledge and context, emphasize equity and inclusivity, and incorporate disaster mitigation techniques that are ecologically appropriate. (more…)

  10. Bringing Manufacturing Back, One Development at a Time

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    Last month, the San Francisco Planning Commission approved the construction the first new manufacturing facility to break ground in nearly twenty years. 100 Hooper is centrally located in San Francisco’s SoMa District, and will convert a storage and truck rental site into a 427,000 square foot campus, comprised of manufacturing facilities and office space. A stand-alone building will serve as the headquarters for SF Made, a non-profit dedicated to developing the local manufacturing sector. (more…)