Communities Information Digest

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region 7)

Communities Information Digest 

July 31, 2012
For questions or to subscribe contact Tegan Vaughn @ 913-551-7326,
Note: New items are in *asterisks*


*EPA Provides $950,000 to Improve Water Quality Using Green Infrastructure in 17 Communities*
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it is providing $950,000 to help 17 communities expand green infrastructure use to improve water quality and protect people’s health and benefit communities. Green infrastructure uses vegetation and soil to manage rainwater where it falls, keeping polluted stormwater from entering sewer systems and waterways in local communities. The EPA funding is intended to increase incorporation of green infrastructure into stormwater management programs, protect water quality, and provide community benefits including job creation and neighborhood revitalization. “Effective stormwater management is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in the nation,” said Nancy Stoner, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Water. Polluted stormwater can be harmful to the health of our nation’s waterbodies. These funds will help expand the use of green infrastructure, revitalize local neighborhoods and help safeguard people’s health and the environment.”
EPA is awarding the funds to diverse communities across 16 states. Some communities – like Beaufort, South Carolina and Neosho, Missouri – are small towns in urban growth areas interested in preserving and protecting their healthy waterways. Others – such as Camden, New Jersey and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – are large cities interested in adding green infrastructure into their redevelopment projects to restore degraded urban waters and help revitalize their communities. The selected communities also provide an opportunity to demonstrate the potential of green infrastructure across a range of climate zones.  For more information, please visit:
*New Federal Resource Guide to Assist Rural Communities*                  
The new publication “Federal Resources for Sustainable Rural Communities” is a collaborative effort among the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The guide outlines programs the federal government has available to support rural communities as they promote economic development and enhance the quality of life for rural residents. It ensures rural communities have access to all of the federal resources that can support their efforts to promote economic competitiveness, protect healthy environments modernize infrastructure and provide services to residents. The guide has key information on funding and technical assistance opportunities available from the four agencies, as well as examples of how rural communities across the country have benefitted from federal resources. A copy of the resource guide is available at:
*Department of Transportation Announces $787 million in Transit Grants
to Add Jobs, Increase Safety, and Reliability*
The Department of Transportation recently announced a significant round of funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Through the FTA’s State of Good Repair and Bus Livability programs, DOT is providing a total of $787 million dollars to support 255 different projects in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. For the third year in a row, FTA is providing funds to help transit agencies around the country build, repair, and modernize their transit systems. For more information, please visit:

    Funding Opportunities

August 6:  USDA Offers Rural Business Opportunity Grants ($2.4 million)                                                                  
August 9: Convergence Innovation Fund Request for Proposals (~$200,000)                                                     
August 10: Affordable Green Neighborhoods Grant Program ($25k each)                                       
September 7: IBM Smarter Cities Challenge – Technical Assistance                                                              
September 14: EDA Economic Development Assistance Programs Federal Funding Opportunity (~$50.06 million)
October 12: AIA Sustainable Design Assessment Teams (SDAT) – Technical Assistance
*November 16: 2013 Sustainable Design Assessment Team Program* –
Meeting Table

Meetings, Conferences, & Events

August 1: Sustainable Ozarks Partnership’s Regional Sustainability Team Conference— Rolla, Missouri
August 15-18: Urban Agriculture Summit: Building Capacity for Action — Toronto, Canada
August 16-17: Southeast Regional Environmental Justice Conference — Atlanta, Georgia, for more information contact Sheryl Good, (, (404)-562-9559
September 10-12: Missouri Recycling Association (MORA) Annual Conference — St. Louis, Missouri
September 10-13: National Home and Community Based Services Conference Arlington, Virginia
September 10-13: ProWalk/ProBike Conference — Long Beach, California
October 3: Growing Sustainable Communities - Midwestern Region – Dubuque, Iowa
*October 7-8: Ozarks New Energy Conference* – Springfield, Missouri,
October 14-16, 2012: 7th Annual Land Bank Conference — Kalamazoo, Michigan
*October 17-20: CitiesAlive 10th Annual Green Roof and Wall Conference* – Chicago, Illinois
*October 31: National Preservation Conference in Spokane, Washington* –

Webinars & Conference Calls

*July 31, Free Webinar: Plastics Recycling: Education Without Numbers*
True or false - the little numbers on the bottom of a bottle were put there to help communicate with the public?  False!  The Resin Identification Code is an industry tool to identify the plastic container's past, not future.  So what's a community to do when it comes to easily discussing plastic recycling with local residents?  This web seminar will highlight new graphics and language designed to help communities in their recycling education and outreach.  All attendees will receive free graphics and language to put to use in their programs. To register, please visit:
* The Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities (OSHC) 2012 Summer Smarts Series (All webcasts at 2:00 – 3:30pm Eastern Time)
* Session 2: MON, 8/6 Economic Development Administration (EDA)
Session 3: THU, 8/9 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Session 4: THU, 8/16 CDC Division of Community Health
Session 5: MON, 8/20 Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (Promise, Choice, DOJ, HHS)
Session 6: THU, 8/30 USDOT on the Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program
Web links for individual webinars will be sent out prior to each date.
Reservations are not necessary; however, this webcast series is intended specifically for HUD's Sustainable Communities grantees, those with Preferred Sustainability Status, and grantee partners and consortium members. For more information, contact Rachel Kirby at
Webinar Series: Country Health Rankings and Roadmaps. Org Offer “Take Action Cycle Webinar Series- Learn how to improve the health of your community”
The Country Health Rankings and Roadmaps organization is hosting two webinars each month (until October) focusing on a step in the Take Action Cycle. The first will provide an introduction to the Action Step - what the step is, why it's important, and how to apply it to your own work. The second webinar will be limited to the first 40 registrants, and will be a more in-depth and interactive discussion of the Action Step. Note: The webinars will be limited to the first 40 people who register. Please email with any questions.
Take Action Cycle Webinar Series - All on Tuesdays, 
3-4pm EST / 2-3pm CST / 1-2pm MST / 12-1pm PST  
Act on What's Important - September 11
Evaluate Actions - October 9
Evaluate Actions: In-depth - October 23    
To register, click on the link(s) above; or for more information, please visit:
August 1, 4:00-5:30 p.m. (EST) – Conference Call: EPA Seeks Public Comment on Proposals for Promoting Public Participation in Permitting
To implement Administrator Lisa P. Jackson's priority on environmental justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing a federal register notice for public comment regarding "Proposed Regional Actions to Promote Public Participation in the Permitting Process" and "Draft Best Practices for Permit Applicants Seeking EPA-Issued Permits: Ways to Engage the Communities at the Fence-Line." You can view and comment on the federal register notice on (Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2012-0452). EPA is also using the Environmental Justice in Action Blog at  EPA is hosting a call to discuss the details of the proposed guidelines and best practices. To attend the call, please RSVP to indicating which call(s) you wish to attend and you will receive a reply with call-in information.
August 8, 2:00-4:00 p.m. (EST) - EPA Webinar: ‘Beating the Heat: Effective Approaches to Heat Island Reduction’
 The heat island effect can increase summertime energy use, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and reduce water quality. In this webcast: Learn about the benefits of taking local action to reduce heat islands, Hear from local governments and organizations about heat island reduction strategies, monitoring and evaluation, and Listen in as cities share lessons learned on how to design and implement effective programs and policies, including cool pavements, shade trees, and cool roofs. Reserve your webcast seat now at:
August 9, 1:00-2:30 p.m. (EST) – Webinar: Advancing Livability with Geographic Information Systems
This webinar will help planning and development practitioners to better understand the potential applications of geospatial technologies for advancing livability.  Presentations will include:
-HUD/DOT Location Affordability Index (Josh Geyer, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)
-Boston Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) pilot scenario modeling package (Tim Reardon, MAPC)
-Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) I-PLACE3S and Urban Footprint (Gordon Garry, SACOG)
Webinar Series: Improving Children’s Health through Federal Collaboration, Second Thursday of every month from 2:00-3:30 p.m. (MST)
The Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8, and the Health Resources and Services Administration, Region 8, have organized, in collaboration with other Federal partners, a one-year-long webinar series titled Improving Children’s Health through Federal Collaboration. Protecting the health of children where they live, learn and play is fundamental to making the world a better place for future generations. The purpose of this webinar series is to encourage coordination, collaboration and information sharing across government agencies and organizations, health care providers, educators, and the general public in addressing children health issues. Please save these dates for the following FREE webinars. For additional information about each of the webinars, including registration information, please visit:
August 9, 2012 – Children’s Environmental Health Research
September 13, 2012 - National Children Study
*September 25, Free Webinar: Plastics Recycling: Moving Beyond Bottles*
The public is anxious to recycle more types of plastic packaging but before a community can commit to program expansion, it needs to evaluate market concerns specific to the region.   This web seminar will outline steps, tools, and evaluations communities should use as they decide when and how to move beyond bottle collection. To register, please visit:

Other Community Related Information & Events

*More than 500 State, Local, Tribal Facilities Participating in ENERGY STAR Battle of the Buildings*
EPA’s third annual ENERGY STAR National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings has attracted 3,200 contestants nationwide, including more than 500 facilities from state, local, and tribal governments. Among the participating facilities are 225 K-12 schools, 89 state or municipal office buildings, 86 fire and police stations, 16 city libraries, 8 courthouses, and 7 museums and convention centers. Phoenix, Arizona alone has 166 facilities entered in the competition. Alachua County Public Schools in Florida has 44 facilities competing, and Louisville, Kentucky, has 30.Two EPA Climate Showcase Communities are participating: Cary, North Carolina, which has six fire stations competing, and Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, which has four buildings entered in the competition. For more information, visit the ENERGY STAR Battle of the Buildings page.
*Three New Reports from EPA's Smart Growth*
1) Greening America's Capitals: The Anacostia Metro Station Area, Washington, D.C. - The District of Columbia asked EPA to help create a plan for the streets and intersections around the Anacostia Metro station. The project team developed a menu of potential changes, including green infrastructure strategies to improve the Anacostia River's water quality.
2) Maryland Clean Water State Revolving Fund Sustainable Communities Pilot Project Report: Decisions about where to provide public wastewater infrastructure affect development patterns and influence where and how a community will grow. This report describes how EPA worked with Maryland's Clean Water State Revolving Fund program to consider ways to focus resources in existing communities and infrastructure systems.
3) Three Years of Helping Communities Achieve Their Visions for Growth and Prosperity is the Partnership for Sustainable Communities' third-year anniversary report. It includes case studies on Bridgeport, CT; Ranson and Charles Town, WV; Montgomery, AL; Cincinnati, OH; Moline, IL; Denver, CO; and Wellpinit, WA.
To view these reports, please visit:
*Health Impact Project: Advancing Smarter Policies for Healthier Communities
2012 Call for Proposals*
The Health Impact Project: Advancing Smarter Policies for Healthier Communities, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, encourages the use of health impact assessments (HIA) to help decision-makers identify the potential health effects of proposed policies, projects, and programs, and make recommendations that enhance their health benefits and minimize their adverse effects and any associated costs. For more information, please visit:
*New report: Chemicals and Our Health: Why Recent Science Calls Us to Action*
The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition released a new report, "Chemicals and Our Health: Why Recent Science Calls Us to Action" which summarizes the world's top science on how toxic chemicals are contributing to the growing disease burden in America. The report also offers an analysis of the economic benefits of chemical policy reform. To view the report, please visit:
*Small Amenities Make Big Difference in Bike Commuting*                                              
In an issue of Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, Ralph Buehler of Virginia Tech quantifies just how important seemingly small amenities can be: “Trip-end facilities at work appear to be significant determinants of cycling to work. Recent research conducted by Ralph Buehler of Virginia Tech found that commuters with cyclist showers, clothes lockers, and bike parking at work are five times more likely to commute by bicycle than those without trip-end facilities.” For more information, please visit:
*Sprawl May Worsen Impacts of Drought*
Sprawling development can exacerbate a drought's impact, according to a recent commentary by Kaid Benefield of the Natural Resources Defense Council. The large-lot residential development characteristic of sprawl uses significantly more water than do neighborhoods built to a more walkable scale, contributing to water shortages. Suburban sprawl also spreads more pavement around watersheds than compact growth, sending rainwater into streams and rivers as polluted runoff, rather than into the soil to replenish groundwater. For more information, please visit:
*Show Your Creativity: Join the National Conversation on the Future of Our Communities Blog!
What do you want your community to become? What’s the next set of issues we have to tackle to make our communities better? Share your ideas on the future of our communities through blog posts, videos, photos, and other multimedia presentations. The Smart Growth Network is now accepting submissions, which will be posted at the end of summer. Visit to send your post and review the Frequently Asked Questions.
*Home Depot Foundation Community Impact Grants
Community Impact Grants Program, grants of up to $5,000 are available to registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, public schools, or tax-exempt public service agencies in the U.S. that are using the power of volunteers to improve the physical health of their community. Grants are given in the form of The Home Depot gift cards for the purchase of tools, materials, or services. The Home Depot Foundation’s Community Impact Grant Program will accept proposals for grants beginning February 6, 2012 through August 13, 2012. For more information, please visit:
*Green Streets Can Cut Pollution, Says Study*
The creation of "green walls" in urban areas could cut pollution by up to 30%, scientists have suggested. UK researchers say more trees and other vegetation at street level would clean air in areas that are normally exposed to higher pollution levels. Plants in towns and cities have been shown to remove nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM), both of which are harmful to human health. The findings appear in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. "Up until now, every initiative around reducing pollution has taken a top-down approach, [such as] scrapping old cars, adding catalytic converters, bringing in the congestion charge - some of which have not had the desired effect," said co-author Rob MacKenzie from the University of Birmingham.
"The benefit of green walls is that they clean up the air coming into and staying in the street canyon," Professor MacKenzie observed.

*Watch EPA's Newest Video in the 20th Anniversary of Environmental Justice Series*

The video series features government officials, nonprofit and industry leaders, and students who share stories about the lessons they have learned working on environmental justice. This video features Susana Almanza, Executive Director of PODER-Texas. Susana Almanza tells an inspiring story about her efforts to protect her community from possible pollution from a gas tank farm. Watch EPA's newest video in our 20th Anniversary video series at:
*Report Showcases Clean Energy Solutions from Small- and Medium-Sized Cities*
A new report from the nonprofit organization Climate Solutions presents the early results of a range of small- and medium-sized cities that are testing and refining strategies for clean energy and energy efficiency. The report, entitled Powering the New Energy Future from the Ground Up, describes innovative financial mechanisms, pilot projects, and clean energy marketing strategies that can serve as models for other communities around the United States. Many of the communities profiled in the report used federal grants to jumpstart their clean energy initiatives. Among them are 14 recipients of EPA’s Climate Showcase Communities grants:
The report is available online from Climate Solutions’ New Energy Cities project website, along with a press release and a recorded telebriefing explaining the report’s findings.
*Submit Your Session Ideas for the EPA and ICMA Cosponsored National Brownfields Conference, May 15-17, 2013 in Atlanta, GA*
The National Brownfields Conference, co-sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), is the largest conference in the nation that focuses on environmental revitalization and economic redevelopment. Now in its 15th year, the event attracts over 5,000 attendees and 200 exhibitors for two and a half days of educational sessions, plenary sessions, training workshops, walking tours, volunteer activities, mobile workshops, film screenings and more. Brownfields 2013 will take place on May 15-17, 2013 in Atlanta, GA. The Call for Ideas is open on the official Brownfields 2013 website. Use the online submission tool to propose a full session idea for Brownfields 2013. The Call for Ideas closes on August, 3, 2012.The Brownfields 2013 Planning Committee is particularly interested in topics related to:
·         Technical Assistance
·         Financing Redevelopment Opportunities
·         Real Estate and Development
·         Planning for a Better Environment
·         Community Engagement
·         Redevelopment & Revitalization
·         Liability and Enforcement
·         Data, Research and Public Health
For more information please contact Grant Sparks at or 202-962-3657.

*Department of Energy awards $7M to Carbon Capture and Storage Projects*

The Department of Energy recently announced $7 million in funding to support a key technology for controlling carbon dioxide from coal plants. The cash will head to eight projects at universities, companies and research institutes to lower the cost of oxy-combustion, which involves burning coal in pure oxygen to create a pure stream of CO2 for later capture. The goal is to perfect the process so 90 percent of emissions are captured at a cost of less than $25 per ton of CO2, the Department said. "Advancing the development of clean coal technologies is an important part of President Obama's strategy to develop every source of American energy," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. For more information, please visit:
*Powering the New Energy Future from the Ground Up – Profiles in City Led Clean Energy Innovation*
A recent report entitled, Powering the New Energy Future from the Ground Up, profiles the early results of a diverse range of small- to medium-sized American cities with different economic and energy profiles that are pioneering the clean energy economy. Many communities used federal grants to jumpstart long-term strategies to test and refine various clean energy and energy efficiency solutions. Others developed innovative financing strategies in the absence of grant money. These city-led efforts to catalyze local clean energy economic development are important to watch as federal grants sunset, especially in the absence of a comprehensive national energy or climate policy. For more information, please visit:
*"Water Is Worth It" Video Contest by the U.S. EPA*
As a part of EPA's CWA 40th Anniversary celebration, the Agency is hosting a video project asking Americans everywhere to send in a 15-second video clip explaining the important role that water plays in their lives. EPA will feature selected video clips on its website and "Water Is Worth It" Facebook page as part of its anniversary celebration. Videos will be accepted through September 14, 2012. But don't wait. Submit your video clips today! You can view our Clean Water Act 40th Anniversary website at, join our Facebook page at, and follow EPA on Twitter @epawater to view video entries, learn about our anniversary events, or learn more about the Clean Water Act.To register, fill out a video entry form. Please remember to submit your entry as a video response to our promotional video on the YouTube EPA Clean Water Act 40th Anniversary Video Project Site. Please submit your video on or before September 14, 2012. .
The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority Utilizes $550,000 of its HUD Community Challenge Funding
The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority Utilizes $550,000 of its HUD Community Challenge Funding for sub-granting to 22 communities to improve land use regulations and create more resilient local economies.  These awards were made on a competitive basis from a pool of 32 applications collectively seeking nearly $830,000 in funding.  Local communities in NH will use this money to revise land-use regulations to promote mixed-use and multi-family housing in village centers, downtown infill, neighborhood heritage districts, form-based codes, building codes that focus on energy conservation, and related activities. For more information, please visit:
Maine Youth Take on Revitalization
A lot of people say they want to engage youth in community planning, but few have figured out how to do it and make it count. The usual perceived hurdles often stall out such efforts: high school kids just want to leave town; they don’t participate; it’s impossible to work with schools given curriculum requirements, and so on. Biddeford, Maine offers stories of success in the face of these barriers. Heart of Biddeford and the City of Biddeford embarked on a Heart & Soul Downtown Master Planning Project in 2008. Dubbed Heartworks, the project aimed to build on new energy downtown by creating a common vision and guidance for planning and future decision-making. More information, please visit:
IRS Releases Public Guidance on Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds                                                                                  
On June 25, 2012, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service released guidance regarding certain qualified conservation purposes eligible for financing with qualified energy conservation bonds (QECBs). The guidance is expected to make it easier for state and local governments to access more than $2 billion in existing low-cost financing to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through QECBs. QECBs provide state and local governments with access to low-cost financing to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. For more information, please visit:
More than 20 HUD Sustainable Community Grantees Develop Local Food Initiatives
More than 20 HUD Sustainable Community Grantees Are Developing Local Food Initiatives to improve food access and remove barriers to local food production, a regional economic development opportunity. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (Columbus, Ohio), for example, is identifying sites for local food production, developing a plan for a food processing facility, and identifying legal barriers to food production. In Madison, Wisconsin the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission is determining the feasibility of a Southern Wisconsin food hub. Visit to see videos of food projects in Mid-Ohio and Upper Valley Lake Sunapee, NH. 
Advancing Environmental Justice through Title VI Plan EJ 2014 Draft Supplement Comment Period Ends July 19th
Administrator Jackson has made improving EPA's civil rights program a priority. Complying with EPA's statutory civil rights obligations is a critical part of the Agency's efforts to advance environmental justice. As part of this effort, EPA is pursuing long overdue, vigorous, robust, and effective implementation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other nondiscrimination statutes. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), in consultation with the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) and the Office of General Counsel (OGC), have developed a draft supplemental implementation plan, "Advancing Environmental Justice through Title VI," for Plan EJ 2014. The draft focuses on Title VI of Civil Rights Act and its integration with Plan EJ 2014. EPA continues to ask for your comments on the Title VI Draft Supplement. Please visit to view and provide comments on the supplement.
New EPA Air Quality Planning Resources for State, Tribal, and Local Air Agencies
EPA has released a new Roadmap to help state, tribal, and local air agencies include emission reductions from energy efficiency and renewable energy in State and Tribal Implementation Plans (SIPs/TIPs) to improve air quality. The Roadmap focuses on emissions benefits from energy efficiency/renewable energy policies and programs in the electric power sector. It reflects input received from a number of stakeholders, including state and local energy and air quality agencies. Now is a great time to include energy efficiency/renewable energy strategies in SIPs and TIPs. First, many states have substantially increased their commitment to energy efficiency/renewable energy policies and programs over the last 10 years. The emissions impacts from these policies and programs are already happening: this manual outlines the latest tools, information, and approaches to quantifying those impacts. Second, emissions reductions from energy efficiency/renewable energy policies and programs can help states and tribes comply with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) at a lower cost than traditional control measures. Third, this information could be very helpful for areas participating in the Ozone Advance Program. Finally, these resources can help state, tribal, and local agencies estimate potential emissions reductions and determine whether they want to reflect those reductions in their SIPs/TIPs. To accompany the Roadmap, EPA is providing: A webinar on the Roadmap; Draft tool for quantifying the emissions impacts of state, tribal, and local energy efficiency/renewable energy policies and programs; Online training for air quality planners on the electric energy sector; Data on the projected energy impacts of existing state energy efficiency/renewable energy policies to help states and tribes account for policies not reflected in Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook 2010. For more information, please visit:
Financing Local Clean Energy Programs: Popular Webcast Recordings Now Online
In May and June 2012, EPA’s Local Climate and Energy Program held a three-part webcast series to help local governments learn how to secure adequate and sustained financing for their clean energy initiatives. This was one of our most popular webcast series ever, so we are very glad to announce that recordings, transcripts, and presentations from all three webcasts are now available on EPA’s local webcasts page, including the Q&A sessions from each webcast. Part I of the series discussed how to design and implement funding programs, line up partners, and gain support for clean energy programs through both conventional and non-conventional methods. Part II discussed how to locate available sources of funding, and Part III discussed how to leverage existing funds and make clean energy investments more affordable for clean energy program audiences. Direct links to the files are provided below: Part 1 (“Getting Started”), Part 2 (“Getting it Funded”), Part 3 (“Keeping it Going”). All three webcasts are now available at
Local Governments Codify Building Efficiency Standards, Mandatory Benchmarking, Auditing and Submetering to Create a Win-Win
As the Rocky Mountain region experienced scorching, record-breaking temperatures in late June, and as fires engulfed significant swaths of Colorado, energy policy experts convened in Denver to discuss ways to mitigate harmful greenhouse gas emissions by the nation's buildings. With climate scientists positing links between the temperature extremes and CO2 emissions, the recent events cast a suggestive backdrop to the gathering. The U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored conference, called the Better Buildings Summit for State and Local Communities, brought together close to 300 participants June 26-27 to share strategies to make buildings – whether commercial, multi-family residential or public-sector properties – more environmentally-responsible and energy-efficient. For more information, please visit:
Detroit Plans to Darken Street Lights to Tighten Up City
To save money and to rationalize civic services, Detroit is going to be turning out the streetlights in "distressed" areas. With the population in twenty of its neighborhoods dropping in some cases to only 10 or 15 percent of former levels, and its municipal debt in excess of $12 billion, Detroit is trying to rationalize many of its services, including sidewalk repair and bus service. Now the city is planning on cutting back on streetlights, thousands of which use 1920s technology that is too expensive to replace. Detroit’s dwindling income and property-tax revenue have required residents to endure unreliable buses and strained police services throughout the city. Because street lights are basic to urban life, deciding what areas to illuminate will reshape the city. For more information, please visit: .
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Fostering Livable Communities Newsletter
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Fostering Livable Communities Newsletter is intended to provide transportation professionals with real-world examples to help them improve the relationship between transportation and communities, such as providing access to good jobs, affordable housing, quality schools, and safer roads. The most recent issue focuses on rural livability initiatives. Rural communities across America are working to strengthen their economies, provide better quality of life to residents, and build on assets such as traditional main streets, working lands, and natural resources. To read past issues of the newsletter, visit:
White House Forum on Sustainable Communities Convenes Mayors, Business Leaders and Other Stakeholders
This group of stakeholders came together to discuss how sustainability strategies make regional economies more competitive.  This event, which celebrated three years of the Federal Partnerships for Sustainable Communities, brought together stakeholders to discuss how to eliminate barriers to private sector investment and spur long-term economic growth. Over the past three years the Partnership has provided over $3.7 billion in assistance to over 700 communities in all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico. To learn more about the Partnership’s accomplishments, click here.  Please click here to read a White House Blog on the Partnership. For more information, please visit:
Announcing the Smart Growth Network’s National Conversation Blog – Share your photos, videos, and thoughts about the future of our communities
The Smart Growth Network is looking for visual (videos, photos – be creative!) and written (no longer than 500 words) submittals for a blog about the future of our communities. What do you want your community to become? What’s the next set of issues we have to tackle to make our communities better? If you missed the deadline to submit a paper, this is your chance to contribute to the National Conversation (and even if you did submit a paper, the Network would love to hear from you again)! The Smart Growth Network is now accepting submissions, which will be posted at the end of summer (date to be determined). Visit to send your post and review the Frequently Asked Questions.
$100 Million Environmental Grant Program Launched
Wells Fargo & Company and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) are launching a new environmental grant program that will award $100 million to nonprofit organizations and universities by 2020. The five-year program will promote environmental stewardship in communities across the United States. Funded projects will include restoration of urban ecosystems, urban agriculture projects, and the development of community infrastructure for clean energy. . For more information, please visit:
Economic Development Administration (EDA) Brings a New Partnership Opportunity to the Table
Two recent developments with the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) represent an incredible opportunity for Sustainable Communities grantees:
- Last October, EDA senior officials announced that HUD regional planning grantees could leverage their planning efforts into a region’s Community Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) – meaning one planning effort could count toward multiple federal requirements. EDA field staff are now engaging regional grantees toward that outcome, most notably a 2011 grantee, Rutgers University and North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.
- EDA also has collaborated to help expand their definition of Environmentally-Sustainable Development Investment Priority, and has developed a fourth project output – Green Place. This project output infuses many of the Partnership's livability principles into one of EDA’s key priorities, which focuses investment on mixed-use, transit-oriented projects that increase community revitalization, improve job access and preserve undeveloped lands. Green Place has allowed EDA to leverage HUD’s Preferred Sustainability Status (PSS), allowing such status holders to meet EDA’s investment priority requirements.
Abandoned Grain Elevators Revitalized in Port Cities
As economies and shipping routes change, many grain elevators in port cities have been abandoned. Unlike old office buildings and factories, converting these structures is especially complicated--the typical grain elevator is windowless, tall enough to define a skyline, and contains only a ground floor. But developers in Buffalo, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and other cities are finding creative new uses for these concrete silos. For more information, please visit:
EPA Awards $69.3 Million to Clean Up Contaminated Community Sites
EPA has announced $69.3 million in grants to provide communities with funding needed to clean and redevelop contaminated properties, boost local economies, and create jobs while protecting public health. According to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, "These grants will be the first step in getting pollution out and putting jobs back into neighborhoods across the country." EPA is awarding a total of 245 grants to tribes and communities in 39 states. For more information, please visit:!OpenDocument
Department of Energy Publishes Plug-In Electric Vehicle Handbook for Fleet Managers
 The U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities Program has produced the Plug-In Electric Vehicle Handbook (PDF, 20 pages, 2 megabytes) to provide fleet managers with information on plug-in vehicles, their maintenance, safety, emissions, charging equipment, and other topics. The handbook covers technology basics for plug-in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, benefits, purchasing considerations, tips on maintenance, charging equipment, and more. State and local officials may want to consider plug-in electric vehicles for their fleets to demonstrate environmental leadership, reduce operating costs and emissions, and comply with fleet requirements. View the handbook at: