More than 80 percent of Americans live in cities and suburbs—and this number is skyrocketing.

NRDC programs help create strong, just, and resilient communities—making cities healthier, more sustainable places to live. We work to lower energy bills, reduce flooding, improve access to healthier food, and make it cheaper and easier for everyone to get around. And when polluters threaten communities, our lawyers go to court on their behalf. 

Our Priorities

Protecting Communities

Low-income communities are disproportionately affected by health problems associated with fossil fuels.

Sustainable Cities

More than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in and around cities.

Energy-Efficient Buildings

Buildings are the single-biggest source of carbon pollution in most U.S. cities.

Climate-Resilient Cities

Thanks to better efficiency standards, Los Angeles now uses only as much water it did in the 1970s.

Local Food Systems

A typical American meal contains ingredients from five foreign countries.

What's at Stake

What you can do

5 ways city dwellers can spur climate action

What is your city doing about climate change? Ask your local leaders these five questions.

How to tackle fracking in your community

Take recycling to the next level—at home, at work, and in your community

How to protect your community from crude oil "bomb trains"

7 ways to flood-proof your house

More sustainable (and beautiful) alternatives to a grass lawn

How to call Congress

Ways to make change globally by acting locally

A step-by-step guide to protecting your community from dirty development projects

Keep the KXL tar sands pipeline out of Nebraska

Urge your governor to lead on climate action

Tell Trump we won't stop fighting global climate change

Smart Cities: Solutions for China's Rapid Urbanization
Issue Paper

During the next two decades, the number of Chinese residents migrating from rural to urban areas will be roughly equivalent to the relocation of the entire current population of the United States. As China's own leaders recognize, without careful planning this urban transformation may bring disastrous consequences, including the exacerbation of the so-called "city diseases" of traffic congestion, air pollution, and water pollution. Grounded in experiences in both the United States and China, this December 2007 issue paper provides a comprehensive set of recommendations for balancing the needs of the economy, the environment, and the community through the implementation of smart growth strategies that promote more efficient use of land, services, and resources.

Safe at Home: Making the Federal Fire Safety Budget Work for Communities
Issue Paper

Every summer, images of wildfires dominate TV screens and newspaper headlines. Yet despite the effort -- and the money -- that goes into emergency response, fires destroy hundreds of homes and whole neighborhoods in the American West during wildfire season. This 2007 issue paper outlines NRDC's pilot study of fire protection in the Love Creek community in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and describes how Western communities and homeowners can protect themselves against fire threats with proven techniques known as "firewise" measures. In addition, we recommend changes to federal fire policy to prioritize community and resident safety.

Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change
Report

Meeting the growing demand for conveniently located homes in walkable neighborhoods could significantly reduce the growth in the number of miles Americans drive, shrinking the nation's carbon footprint while giving people more housing choices, according to a team of leading urban planning researchers. In a comprehensive review of dozens of studies, published by the Urban Land Institute, the researchers conclude that urban development is both a key contributor to climate change and an essential factor in combating it.

Environmental Policy Discussions After Hurricane Katrina
Overview

Hurricane Katrina spurred widespread debate about environmental policies: those that may have contributed to the devastation and those that can help avert future disasters. NRDC is contributing our expertise where it can help meet immediate challenges. And we will work to meet the longer-term challenge of ensuring that our leaders take away the right lessons from this disaster, and respond with real solutions. On this page, NRDC experts on public health, urban design, coastal protection, energy security and global warming recommend policies and analyze opportunities and pitfalls for the post-Katrina recovery period and beyond.

Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty: 1987—2007
Report

In 1987, the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice released its groundbreaking study Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States. The report was significant because it found race to be the most potent variable in predicting where commercial hazardous waste facilities were located in the U.S., more powerful than household income, the value of homes and the estimated amount of hazardous waste generated by industry.

This year, the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries commissioned a new report as part of the twentieth anniversary of the release of the 1987 report. The 2007 Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty report uses 2000 census data. The report also chronicles important environmental justice milestones since 1987 and includes a collection of “impact” essays from environmental justice leaders on a range of topics. This new report also examines the environmental justice implications in post-Katrina New Orleans and uses the Dickson County (Tennessee) Landfill case, the "poster child" for environmental racism, to illustrate the deadly mix of waste and race.

Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty is designed to facilitate renewed grassroots organizing and provide a catalyst for local, regional and national environmental justice public forums, discussion groups and policy changes in 2007 and beyond.

A Report Prepared for the United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries
Laura
Goldberg

Laura Goldberg focuses on energy efficiency across the Midwest, working with state and local partners in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri. She works to make multifamily housing healthy and affordable as a part of the national Energy Efficiency for All project. Before joining NRDC, Goldberg focused on energy-efficiency policy and outreach with the Citizens Utility Board of Illinois. Goldberg is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and based in Chicago.

Midwest Energy Efficiency Advocate
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Trash Landings: How Airlines and Airports Can Clean Up Their Recycling Programs
Report

The U.S. airline industry discards enough aluminum cans each year to build 58 Boeing 747 airplanes, along with thousands of tons of plastics, magazines and newspapers. All of this waste represents unrealized potential for airlines and airports to save money, reduce global warming pollution and improve efficiency. The December 2006 report presents the findings from NRDC's yearlong study of the airline industry and outlines clear steps that airlines and airports -- and other large municipal operations -- can take to put effective recycling initiatives into place.

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