Cities

Global Sustainable Cities: Cities and Our Environmental Future

Over half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and this share is expected to increase in the coming decades. With growing urbanization, cities and their residents face substantial environmental challenges such as higher temperatures, droughts, wildfires, and increased flooding. In response to these pressing challenges, some cities have begun to develop local environmental …

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Breaking Down Urban Organics: Lessons from San Francisco’s Organics Program and Implications for New York City

The current efforts of the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to reduce the volume of organics sent to landfills focus on encouraging people to voluntarily separate their organics from recyclables and other waste. Most notably, in August 2022, DSNY announced that it will offer curbside organics collection throughout Queens between October and December …

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Policy Brief – Equitable Electrification: Could City and State Policies Aggravate Energy Insecurity?

Progressive cities and states have begun enacting policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, one of the leading sources of such emissions in the United States. The same jurisdictions have also generally committed to pursuing decarbonization equitably, without exacerbating the disadvantages faced by historically marginalized communities. Electrification is currently a favored policy for decarbonizing …

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Beyond Gas Bans: Alternative Pathways to Reduce Building Emissions in Light of State Preemption Laws

At the federal level, opportunities to advance emissions reductions from buildings have expanded due to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which aims to speed the nation’s transition to carbon-free energy sources. However, many municipalities have seen their powers to steer building decarbonization curtailed in recent years. Notably, between 2020 and 2021, 20 states …

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Urban Biodiversity: A Transatlantic Dialogue on the Role of Cities in Promoting Global Biodiversity Goals

Though seemingly at odds with one another, a wide variety of living organisms and habitats exist in and around dense urban areas. With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities, and the urban footprint steadily growing, policymakers must think about how to protect the biodiversity that remains within urban areas and …

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Equitable Electrification: Could City and State Policies Aggravate Energy Insecurity?

Progressive cities and states have begun enacting policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, one of the leading sources of such emissions in the United States. The same jurisdictions have also generally committed to pursuing decarbonization equitably, without exacerbating the disadvantages faced by historically marginalized communities. Electrification is currently a favored policy for decarbonizing …

Equitable Electrification: Could City and State Policies Aggravate Energy Insecurity? Read More »

Beyond Gas Bans: Expanding Local Strategies for Building Decarbonization and Energy Efficiency

At the federal level, opportunities and incentives to decarbonize buildings expanded in 2022 due to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.  However, many municipalities have seen their powers to steer building decarbonization curtailed in recent years. Notably, between 2020 and 2021, 20 states passed laws that limited local governments’ authority to regulate the installation …

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Impact Fees in NYC? A Summary of Potential Sources of Legal Authority, Constraints, and Options

New development offers a variety of potential social and economic benefits for New York City. At the same time, new development puts additional pressure on the local environment, including on critical physical and social infrastructure, much of which is already overburdened and in need of upgrades. In this context, some have called upon the City …

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Following the Money: The Role of Penalties in Encouraging Compliance with Building Performance Standards

In response to growing public concerns about climate change, many American cities have begun to set goals for reducing energy usage, decreasing reliance on non-renewable energy sources, and helping building owners upgrade inefficient properties. To aid in this transition, several jurisdictions have created Building Performance Standards (BPSs). BPSs regulate either greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or …

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