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  • From coast to coast, American cities are shaping a sustainable future

    From writer Rachel Signer and our friends at Collectively:

    When it comes to climate change, we usually look to world leaders and national governments to take responsibility for building a more sustainable future. But with the formation of organizations like Cities Climate Leadership Group, or C40, a global network of city mayors focused on sustainability, city governments are taking increased responsibility to find ways to tackle the same urban and environmental issues on local levels. 

    Of course, citywide sustainability projects often rely heavily on citizen participation, and they are often both initiated and spearheaded by passionate activists. Regardless, green policy initiatives are taking off in cities across the U.S. Here at Collectively, we're excited about these promising stories of greening cities.

    Philadelphia's "Green City, Clean Waters" initiative is dealing with excessive storm water runoff by encouraging rain gardens and green roofs. They're also lining the streets with absorbent trees and bushes to help water soak into the soil. All of which also gives the city more lush beauty and shade while reducing carbon dioxide. Aside from beautifying the city, this kind of green infrastructure offers the double-punch practical benefit of less flooding and cleaner public water systems.

    Chicago launched its bike-share program in 2013, and is planning to expand in spring 2015-at which point it will have the nation's largest bike-share program, with a total of 475 stations. The city is also aiming to create 100 miles of protected bike lanes in the near future.

    L.A. County offers a program called Telework to its government employees, which allows them to save money on gas and reduce pollution by opting to work at home one day per week. The reported results in 2012 include improved productivity by about ten percent per employee on average, as people were less distracted, less stressed, and able to work at their peak times. This initiative also reduced sick leave due to more flexible scheduling and commuting to doctors' appointments. Today, roughly 5,000 L.A. County employees of all ranks were taking advantage of Telework.

    New York City was named by Bicycling Magazine as the number-one U.S. city for bicycling in 2014, thanks to more than 350 miles of new bike lanes added over the last few years, resulting in the city's number of bike commuters doubling between 2007 and 2011, as well as the CitiBike program, which boasts 96,000 members.

    Over the last few years, Seattle has been pioneering a nation-wide move in urban areas toward "benchmarking," a program that helps building owners achieve lower levels of energy by measuring and rating a building's energy performance, and making that information publicly available. Benchmarking aims to help building owners identify ways to increase building energy efficiency and lower energy costs.

    This article originally appeared at Collectively, our new content partner. Thanks Collectively!

    Photo credit: Philippe Boivin / Flickr

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