Sustainable Cities

Investment and Innovation for a Livable Urban Future

The U.S. infrastructure and green building industries still face a lack of sufficient funding and market adoption that impede the advancement of integrated, sustainable urban systems at scale. Resilient, inclusive, and resource-efficient development is vital for connecting populations to economic opportunity, protecting against climate impacts, and promoting community health. In 2016, Sustainable Cities Working Group attendees will explore innovative financing, resilient planning, and high-performance building strategies that cultivate a more equitable and sustainable built environment.

2016 Subtopics

Transit-Oriented Development and Urban Mobility

Attendees will craft urban planning solutions that address mobility issues and widen transit access to connect underserved populations with economic opportunity and to foster equitable socioeconomic development. Discussions will address public-private partnerships and innovative technologies, among other issues.

Resilient and High Performance Infrastructure

Attendees will build effective planning approaches for disaster preparedness and recovery, as well as urban development that joins considerations of health, equity, and sustainability. Discussions will include public-private partnerships, municipal best practice sharing, and local crowdsourcing.

Integrated Water Resources Management

Attendees will develop water management strategies that address stormwater risk and water scarcity by replicating successful projects, employing cross-sector partnerships and financing mechanisms, and scaling innovative tools like green infrastructure.

High Performance Buildings and Green Affordable Housing

Attendees will explore programs facilitating water and energy efficiency in new and existing buildings, housing strategies that use retrofits to foster affordability, and data approaches linking retrofits to improved resident health.

Innovative Commitments

Investment and Training for American Infrastructure

Commitment by: AFL-CIO
Commitment Partners: California State Teachers Retirement, California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS); Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Fund; AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust; New York City Employee Retirement System (NYCERS); New York City Teachers Retirement System (NYCTRS); Oregon Public Employee Funds; Illinois State University Retirement System; AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust (BIT), ULLICO Inc.; American Federation of Teachers; American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees; Union Labor Life Insurance Company

In 2011, the AFL-CIO committed to encourage workers’ capital and skilled labor to invest $10 billion in large-scale improvements to America’s built environment. By March 2015, nearly $14 billion had been allocated to U.S. infrastructure as a result of this commitment, with over $6.5 billion deployed into infrastructure projects. Partners report that at least 50,000 jobs have been created due to these investments.

Empowering Collegeville Through Neighborhood Renewal

Commitment by: City of Birmingham
Commitment Partners: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham; State of Alabama; University of Alabama, Birmingham

In 2014, the City of Birmingham and its partners committed to empower and renew the community of Collegeville by revitalizing the local EPA Superfund site, developing green space around Bethel Baptist Church, constructing a vehicular/pedestrian bridge, renovating Maclin Park, resolving floodplain issues, and developing affordable housing. As of April 2015, the official groundbreaking had taken place and several more partners identified.

Addressing Infrastructure Needs Through Volunteer Services

Commitment by: Community Engineering Corps (CEC)
Commitment Partners: American Society of Civil Engineers; American Water Works Association; Engineers Without Borders

In 2014, the CEC—a partnership between Engineers Without Borders USA, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the American Water Works Association—committed to provide pro bono engineering expertise to 50 new communities. As of February 2015, the CEC had engaged with 15 new communities. By 2016, the CEC expects to have trained 1,000 volunteers and benefited 25,000 people in 50 communities.

EcoDistricts Target Cities Pilot Program

Commitment by: EcoDistricts
Commitment Partners: City of Austin; Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation; NeighborWorks America; Boston Redevelopment Authority; City of Cambridge; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ; Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc.; Biogen Idec Inc.; Biomed Realty Trust Inc.; Boston Properties; Georgetown University; U.S. Green Building Council; City of Atlanta; Enterprise Community Partners; Morehouse College; Spelman College; Clark Atlanta University; University of British Columbia; U.S. Department Of Transportation; City of Los Angeles

In 2014, EcoDistricts and its partners committed to advance district-scale sustainability work in eight projects through a pilot program called Target Cities. This program targets cities undergoing significant change and helps city leaders, planners, and residents build a decision-making body, project roadmap, and infrastructure masterplan to foster equitability, sustainability, and resilience. As of March 2015, Target Cities had developed leadership groups and governance models for every city identified through the Commitment to Action.

Featured Past Participants

American Federation of Teachers 
American Institute of Architects 
CH2M Hill 
Ford Foundation
Johnson Controls 
Lafarge North America 
Lend Lease Group 
Macquarie Infrastructure Partners Inc.
Natural Resources Defense Council 
North America’s Building Trades Unions
The U.S. Conference of Mayors 
U.S. Department of Transportation 
U.S. Green Building Council