Environmental Issues: Urban Solutions

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All Documents in Urban Solutions

LEED for Neighborhood Development
NRDC's Citizen's Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development helps you know when it's green

A Citizen's Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development is a hands-on introduction that NRDC developed for local environmental groups, smart growth organizations, neighborhood residents and just about anyone interested in making our communities better and greener.
First and Last Mile Connections: New Mobility
Innovation, strategic planning, and collaborations are driving creative solutions to the unrelenting need for more transportation choices. New "shared mobility" programs, policies, tools, and techniques are emerging around the country as a result of their wide range of economic and social benefits.
Solar Electric Energy for Your Stadium or Arena
A Guide to Help Professional and Collegiate Sports Teams and Venues Develop Successful On-site Solar Power Generation

Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and Major League Soccer recently distributed this solar development guide produced on their behalf by NRDC and Bonneville Environmental Foundation outlining the work necessary for each stadium to add on-site solar power generation to its energy mix.
Metropolitan Land Use & Transportation Planning
Solutions for Sustainability

Metropolitan regions have become increasingly important as they continue to guide our land use and transportation, in addition to our economy.
Sustainable Neighborhoods
Solutions for Sustainability

One of the most important models of sustainable growth is the neighborhood, where increments of development actually occur and where most people connect with their cities, their environments, and each other on an everyday basis.
Sustainable Practices on Key Urban Issues
Solutions for Sustainability

Specific issues like water quality and sustainable food are a challenge in all cities.  NRDC is creating models to solve a selected set of key urban challenges that can be applied to other cities nationwide.
Sustainability Achievements of the 2011 NCAA Final Four in Houston, Texas
In an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, the producers of the NCAA Final Four have integrated ecologically intelligent practices into the event’s planning and production. The paper products and other supplies we have bought and the facilities and services we are relying on have all been selected with a sensitivity towards reducing the threats we all face from global warming, deforestation, toxic wastes, and hazardous chemicals in our water and food. This year the NCAA teamed up with LG Electronics USA, Waste Management, Reliant Park, the City of Houston, George R. Brown Convention Center, and the Natural Resources Defense Council to launch the long journey they need to take to reduce their collective ecological footprint. This document explores their achievements.
Get document in pdf.
Getting Back on Track
Climate Change and State Transportation Policy

With a comprehensive climate bill stalled at the federal level, many are turning to the states to make progress toward reducing carbon emissions. In Getting Back on Track, NRDC examines what states are doing to curb emissions caused by transportation, compares state transportation policy as it affects greenhouse gas emissions, and compares performance across the states.
Communities Tackle Global Warming
A Guide to California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (SB 375)

Issue Paper
California's Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act, SB 375, is the nation's first legislation to link transportation and land use planning with global warming. SB 375 is an important step toward a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous California. Locating housing closer to jobs and transit choices and creating walkable communities can reduce commute times, cut millions of tons of global warming pollution, and improve quality of life.
Picturing Smart Growth
Visions for Sustainable Communities Across America


Cities and towns across the country are embracing smart growth as a better solution to meet the needs of their growing populations. Smart growth principles accommodate growth and development while saving open space, revitalizing neighborhoods and helping cool the planet. See visions created through photo-editing software for how 70 communities across the country could apply smart growth principles to improve their streets and neighborhoods.

Smart Cities
Solutions for China's Rapid Urbanization

Issue Paper
The number of Chinese residents migrating from rural to urban areas in the next two decades will be roughly equivalent to the relocation of the population of the United States, a transformation that may bring disastrous consequences without careful planning. This December 2007 issue paper provides a comprehensive set of recommendations for smart growth strategies that promote more efficient use of land, services, and resources.
Close to Home: Smart Growth Helps Solve Global Warming
Smart community planning can cut down drive times and reduce America's greenhouse gas emissions.

Smart community planning can cut down drive times and reduce America's greenhouse gas emissions.
If You Build It, They Will Come
Americans Want Smart Growth Alternatives to Conventional Transportation

Fact Sheet
Smart growth land-use strategies, also known as location-efficient development or “new urbanism,” can save Americans saving thousands of dollars a year in transportation costs, improve quality of life, and provide significant benefits for the environment. Get document in pdf.
Environmental Characteristics of Smart Growth Neighborhoods
Case Studies in Sacramento and Nashville

Issue Paper
These studies, published in October 2000 and February 2003 for NRDC in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, suggest that the environmental benefits of smart growth are real and can be measured.
Solving Sprawl
Models of Smart Growth in Communities Across America

Sprawl is taking a grave toll on our environment and the way we live, giving us mind-numbing traffic, ugly strip development, fragmented communities, and loss of open space. This November 2001 book from NRDC, Solving Sprawl, offers an inspiring contrast to these grim trends. Through 35 real-world stories, the book illustrates how people in cities, suburbs, and rural areas have found profitable, community-oriented alternatives to sprawl.
Solving Sprawl: An Overview
Across America, communities are finding ways to ensure that the growth they get is the growth they want.

Sprawl -- the blighted landscape of cookie-cutter suburbs, strip malls, and far too many highways that has spread across so much of America -- is a hot topic. But all across America, communities are finding alternative ways to grow and prosper that beat back sprawl, save landscapes and improve quality of life. A new book from NRDC, Solving Sprawl, tells this heartening story.
Developments and Dollars
An Introduction to Fiscal Impact Analysis in Land Use Planning

This guide provides citizens, planners, local officials and others concerned with sprawling development and growth issues with tools they need to examine the likely impacts of development proposals on local taxes and municipal budgets. It also offers advice on accounting practices sometimes used to make development appear more attractive to local governments than it really is.
Paving Paradise
Sprawl and the Environment

Expanding metropolitan areas into the countryside at rates many times faster than population growth, as we have been doing for decades, is not good for the environment. Whether we can improve the pattern in the coming decades will be critical because, in the first half of the 21st century, the U.S. population is expected to grow by half.
Another Cost of Sprawl
The Effects of Land Use on Wastewater Utility Costs

A 1998 NRDC study that adds to the growing body of literature demonstrating that low-density sprawl development is costly, inefficient, and inequitable.

For additional policy documents, see the NRDC Document Bank.

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Kaid Benfield's Blog

Kaid Benfield writes about development, community and the environment on Switchboard.

Kaid's Recent Posts

New guide from ASLA highlights urban green, literally, in Portland
posted by Kaid Benfield, 10/27/14
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For smart growth, not all urban density is created equal
posted by Kaid Benfield, 10/6/14

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