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VOLUME 30 January 2019



le City SustainaWbORK NET





Grand River Center | Port of Dubuque | Dubuque, Iowa

A two-day sustainability conference for municipal and business professionals. Ideas, plans and best practices. SPONSORED BY:



cover story


The Role of Urban Forests in Sustainable Communities


Ecotourism Can Benefit Rural Communities


Making Hazard Mitigation a Local Planning Priority


Chemists Develop Carbon Fibers from Greenhouse Gas


Photo: RTC Washoe County


VOLUME 30 January 2019


Transportation Demand Management: Taking Wheels Off the Road


Sustainable City Network Magazine

The Best of Sustainable City Network is a quarterly magazine highlighting the most popular articles posted on, an online trade publication that serves government, education and healthcare institutions in all 50 U.S. states and the provinces of Canada. The magazine is available in print or as a digital download at The opinions expressed in the magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sustainable City Network or WoodwardBizMedia. SUBSCRIPTIONS Contact 563.588.4492;

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BUSINESS MANAGER Kathy Goetzinger CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Julianne Couch Joan Mooney Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies CREATIVE DESIGN Eric Faramus Cover Photo: Great Reno Balloon Race, Natalie Lumbo Unless otherwise noted, all images used throughout © 2019 Ingimage, all rights reserved. Sustainable City Network 801 Bluff Street Dubuque, Iowa 52001 Visit Us On The Web Printed on recycled paper


Free 1-Hour Webinar – Jan. 17, 2019 – Sponsored by the Autocase Join us Thursday, Jan. 17, as Sustainable City Network hosts a free 1-hour webinar sponsored by Autocase and presented by David MacLean, president of McMac Cx, along with sustainability consultant Julie Hendricks of Kirksey and Stéphane Larocque of Autocase. The three will explain how Triple Bottom Line-Cost Benefit Analysis (TBL-CBA) is used to quantify the financial, social, and environmental impacts of a given project or proposal, all in dollar terms. This makes it possible to craft objective, transparent and comparable project proposals that can be justified to key stakeholders such as investors, government officials, building owners, tenants or the local community. Case studies showcasing how triple bottom line cost benefit analysis can be applied in different scenarios will be shared. This webinar qualifies for one Learning Unit (LU) through the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Register now at

Reno Resilience — Sustainability in the Wild West Free 1-Hour Webinar – Jan. 24, 2019 – Sponsored by Crescent Electric Supply Co. The 2014 local election brought new, progressive leadership to the city of Reno. The newly elected mayor and city council took immediate action to tackle climate change leading to the city’s first sustainability manager coming on board in late 2015. In just 3 years, Reno has earned a place on the map for building solutions around sustainability. Growth, innovation, inclusion, resilience: These are all words that define the culture of the new Reno. Presented by Reno Sustainability Manager Lynne Barker, the presentation will describe the sustainability principles reinforced in citywide goals and policies adopted in the city of Reno Master Plan, as well as the more specific strategies identified in the city’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. Register now at

from the editor Welcome to Sustainable City Network Magazine – the Best of! This quarterly magazine is a compilation of the most popular articles on our web site and in our email newsletter, the InBox, which is delivered to nearly 40,000 leaders in government, education and healthcare across the U.S. and Canada. Sustainable City Network produces advertiser-supported, non-partisan articles, webinars, trade shows and white papers that provide local institutions with quality, organized and timely information about sustainability projects, plans and best practices. This magazine is another way we fulfill our mission.

Randy Rodgers Publisher & Executive Editor SUSTAINABLE CITY NETWORK 801 Bluff Street Dubuque, IA 52001 563.588.3853

OUR MISSION “To make U.S. cities more sustainable through quality and well-organized information.”

In this issue, we continue our Leaderboard series by showcasing the city of Reno, Nev., the “Biggest Little City in the World” Reno is a rapidly growing city that is committed to using the principles of sustainability to reduce its emissions and adapt to climate change. In our cover story, you’ll hear from Reno Sustainability Manager Lynne Barker, who will describe the sustainability principles reinforced in citywide goals and policies adopted in the city of Reno Master Plan, as well as the more specific strategies identified in the city’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. You can learn more in a free 1-hour webinar featuring Reno on Thursday, Jan. 24. Register at http://sCityNetwork. com/Reno. In other top stories: We feature the role of urban forests in helping cities become more walkable and desirable places in which to live. While climate change and disease is ravaging trees across the continent, we describe tools some cities are using to recover their canopies. Other articles in this issue focus on ecotourism, hazard mitigation planning, transportation demand management and an exciting new technology that chemists in Germany have developed to make strong and light building materials out of carbon – a promising new weapon in the war on greenhouse gases. The articles in this magazine have been selected by our readers. We’ve packaged them together in this convenient magazine format, available as a digital download or in print. We hope you find value inside.

Randolph Farms Landfill, Indiana This Indiana site produces BioCNG, a renewable natural gas(RNG), up to 1,000 gasoline gallons equivalent (GGE) per day of RNG. A fueling station is located on site at the landfill and RNG is used to fuel refuse trucks. Dubuque, Iowa based Unison Solutions Inc. is proud to be part of the team at this landfill. This patented biogas upgrading technology, designed and manufactured by Unison Solutions, removes moisture and impurities from the biogas for use in CNG vehicles. Since 2000, Unison Solutions has designed and manufactured over 300 systems for biogas upgrading and conditioning systems. Learn more about it at [3]



Reno Brings Sustainability to the Wild West New Leadership and Changing Demographics Turn the High Desert Green BY RANDY RODGERS PUBLISHER & EXECUTIVE EDITOR





“We really tried to communicate to residents and businesses what STAR Communities is, what it covers, why it’s important and why they should care. …We worked really hard on telling that story.”

LYNNE BARKER is sustainability manager for the City of Reno, Nev.

In a region with one of the highest concentrations of ski resorts in the U.S. and a water supply that depends on mountain snowpack, the climate trends in Reno, Nev., have not been promising.

Barker, who was director of the STAR Community Index project when it was being launched by ICLEI USA, the U.S. Green Building Council and the Center for American Progress from 2008 to 2011, said she’s proud of the Reno Resilience report for its emphasis on outreach to the community.

“Reno is the fastest warming city in the nation,” said Lynne Barker, the city’s sustainability manager. “Our average annual temperature has increased more than five degrees over the past five decades.”

“We really tried to communicate to residents and businesses what STAR Communities is, what it covers, why it’s important and why they should care,” Barker said. “…We worked really hard on telling that story.” She said the report has received accolades from STAR Communities and has been emulated by other cities in the program. The Reno Resilience report also identified the alignment between the STAR Communities goals and the goals in the city’s newly adopted Master Plan, ReImagineReno, which will guide Reno’s development over the next 20 years.

The hotter, dryer climate means longer and more severe droughts, less water for ranching and farming, and more frequent and intense wildfires, Barker warned in a recent report on the city’s resilience. As Reno begins to feel the increasingly dire impacts of climate change, a new administration buoyed by changing demographics in the electorate is coalescing around the principles of sustainability.

In 2017, Reno was ranked the 31st greenest city in America by WalletHub after a comparison of the top 100 cities. Later that year, the city was certified as a 3-STAR Community by STAR Communities, a rating system that helps cities track their progress toward sustainability on a 5-point scale. Following the certification, Barker and her team drafted Reno Resilience, the city’s 2017 Sustainability Report, which benchmarked current metrics and outlined the city’s evolution toward 44 objectives in STAR’s seven thematic goal areas.

Photo: City of Reno

Barker is Reno’s first sustainability manager, hired after a new, more progressive administration took over city government in 2015. That year, the Reno City Council and newly elected Mayor Hillary Schieve voted unanimously to join the Compact of Mayors, now the Global Covenant of Mayors, an international coalition of mayors and city officials committed to reducing local greenhouse gas emissions and promoting resilience to climate change. Among Barker’s first assignments was to meet the requirements of that covenant, starting with the city’s first greenhouse gas inventory, conducted in partnership with the University of NevadaReno, Washoe County Health District, and the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority.


Fiesta Latin@

A dancer performs at Fiesta Latin@, an event celebrating the cultural diversity of Reno during the city’s sesquicentennial in 2017. About a quarter of Reno’s population is Latino.




renewable sources by 2030. If the measure is approved by voters again in 2020 the mandate will be written into the Nevada Constitution.

Photo: TMWA

Barker said NV Energy, the state’s primary electric utility, has remained neutral on the ballot measure, but has already committed to doubling its current renewable energy output by 2023 and plans to eventually become 100 percent renewable. It currently generates 24 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and only 8 percent from coal.


Watching the Water

A state-certified water treatment professional helps ensure the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) treatment facilities continue to meet and exceed all state and federal drinking water standards. TMWA’s primary source of water is the Truckee River, which flows for 120 miles from Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Pyramid Lake in the Nevada desert. The utility, which serves the Reno area, has received national recognition for water quality.

Reno, with a population of just under 250,000, is part of the RenoSparks metropolitan area in western Nevada, home to about half a million people. The area’s primary source of water is the Truckee River, which flows out of Lake Tahoe 22 miles south of the city. The region sits in the “rain shadow” of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and therefore relies mostly on snowmelt for its water. The snow also helps fuel the economy, with more than a dozen ski resorts in the area. But, besides bringing hotter, dryer summers, climate change is also bringing more rain and less snow in winters, Barker said. That reduces the snowpack even more and causes dangerous flash floods.

According to a 2017 report, NV Energy says coal will no longer be in use in southern Nevada and will represent less than 3 percent of its generating capacity throughout the state by the end of 2019. In 2018, the utility announced plans to add more than 1,300 megawatts of solar energy to its existing portfolio, along with the state’s first battery storage facility that will have the capacity to store up to 100 megawatts. The additions will bring NV Energy’s total renewable energy portfolio – which includes geothermal, hydro, biomass, wind and solar facilities – to more than 3.2 gigawatts of power generation. “Our community is very invested in sustainability. It’s also a changing community,” Barker said, describing a rapidly growing population with increasing numbers of university students, retirees and a Latino population that now accounts for nearly 25 percent of residents, up from 19 percent in 2000.

Reno’s greenhouse gas inventory showed the city had already made progress, decreasing its carbon footprint by nearly 14 percent between 2008 and 2014, largely as a result of more fuel efficient vehicles, increased use of renewable energy and converting power plants from burning coal to cleaner natural gas. But, Nevada voters have demanded more: They approved a ballot measure in November that will require electric utilities in the state to acquire 50 percent of their electricity from [6]

Photo: Waste Management

Gaming and tourism dominated Reno’s economy in the 20th Century, but in recent years the city has seen a boom in the technology sector with companies like Apple, Amazon, Rackspace, Blockchain and Switch bringing new distribution and data centers to the area. The Tahoe Reno Industrial Center is promoted as the largest industrial park in the world and is home to the 5.8-million-square-foot Tesla Gigafactory and Switch’s SuperNAP campus, one of the largest data centers in the world. More than 100 companies operate warehouse, logistics and fulfillment centers in the industrial complex, including such companies as PetSmart, Home Depot, Walmart and others.

■■ Helping the Planet

Reno’s current recycling rate is about 30 percent. The city plans to increase the rate to 50 percent by 2025 and 75 percent by 2050, with new programs targeting construction and demolition waste and compostables.



Photo: University of Nevada Reno


■■ Improving Grades

Reno’s high school graduation rate has increased from 66 percent in 2012 to 84 percent in 2017. In fall 2017, the University of Nevada-Reno reached an all-time high enrollment of 21,657 students. Pictured here are students outside Peavine Hall, a LEED-Gold residence hall built in 2016.

Reno, known since the 1920s as “the Biggest Little City in the World,” is beginning to experience some growing pains. The prospect of good jobs and relatively low housing costs have attracted newcomers from northern California, where an affordable housing crisis and recent wildfires have displaced many. Concerns over the “Californiacation” of the city have sparked debates about “gentrification, traffic and lifestyle changes,” according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

(EDAWN) for improving access to a quality education throughout the region. She said the school district’s Every Child, By Name and Face, to Graduation program was particularly instrumental in increasing Reno’s high school graduation rate from 66 percent in 2012 to 84 percent in 2017.

Barker said social equity is a growing concern for city officials. “Just this past year the mayor and city council adopted our first-ever diversity plan,” she said. The plan provides guidance on how the city can diversify its workforce and “address the issues of institutional racism to make sure that we are providing services and making investments that are equitable,” Barker said. The city now publishes its literature in both English and Spanish, and provides Spanish translators when citizens call for city services. She said the draft Sustainability & Climate Action Plan for 2018-2025 emphasizes the equitable allocation of resources, services and opportunities, specifically access to fresh, healthy foods, tree canopy and bikeshare services. Barker credited the efforts of a workforce development coalition that includes the University of Nevada-Reno, the Washoe County School District and the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada

Photo: City of Reno

“With big-city culture, comes more creative food, dining, shopping and recreation options, but also more expenses,” bemoaned City Life Reporter Mike Higdon. “Reno’s cost of living is already high while house and rental prices outpace wages.”

■■ On the Street Beat

Reno has been nationally recognized for its community policing. The Reno Police Department trains its officers in community-oriented policing and problem solving, which involves partnering with neighborhood groups, schools, recreation centers and other groups to build strong relationships and help fix the source of criminal activity rather than just arresting and prosecuting offenders.



Barker said Reno is also a nationally recognized leader in community policing. The Reno Police Department trains its officers in community-oriented policing and problem solving, which involves partnering with neighborhood groups, schools, recreation centers and other groups to build strong relationships and help fix the source of criminal activity rather than just arresting and prosecuting offenders. The department has a community ride-along program, a downloadable mobile phone app, a Neighborhood Watch program and conducts regular presentations throughout the city. The mobile app contains staff profiles, news, incident reports, navigation tools to find the nearest station, police contact information, local crime statistics and information on how to engage with the department. Barker said each of the city’s five wards has a citizen advisory board that meets regularly and provides input to city leadership and the police department.

Photo: City of Reno


■■ Rain Shadow

Reno sits within the “rain shadow” of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which limits the city’s rainfall totals, especially during the hot, dry summers. Reno’s average annual temperature has increased five degrees in the past 50 years, making it the fastest warming city in the country, followed by Phoenix and Las Vegas.

According to Barker, Reno’s key sustainability priorities in the next few years will include: • Greening the Energy Supply - Transition the local energy supply for both transportation and non-mobile sources toward the use of renewable, less carbon-intensive, and less toxic alternatives. Increase distributed, renewable energy generation 15 percent by 2025 through streamlined permits, reduced fees, and technical assistance. • Reducing Emissions through Energy Efficiency - Convert 90 percent of streetlights and traffic signals to LED by 2025. Implement the city’s newly adopted Building Energy Use Benchmarking and Transparency Policy for large commercial, industrial and multifamily buildings. • Reducing Transportation Emissions - Adopt form based code to improve predictability and quality of compact and complete, walkable, and mixed-use centers and corridors. Install bikeways, bicycle parking, lockers and shower facilities to encourage the use of bicycles for commuting. Reduce city fleet emissions 30 percent by 2025 by transitioning to electric or low emission vehicles where feasible. • Developing a Pathway to Zero Waste - Increase the recycling rate from 30 percent to 50 percent by 2025 and 75 percent by 2050. Partner with industry to implement a construction and demolition waste recycling program, a local green waste and food waste recycling facility, and implement curbside collection of compostables. [8]

• Expanding Access to Healthy, Local Food - Allow community gardens, demonstration gardens, small-scale agriculture, community supported agriculture (CSA), the raising of some animals for food purposes, and other efforts. Incentivize development of grocery stores in areas determined as food deserts, and allow for mobile food pantries for underserved communities. • Increasing Reno’s Tree Canopy - Expand the city’s ReLeaf Reno program, which accepts donations from the public to plant and maintain trees on private and public property, especially in low-income neighborhoods. (Reno, which is in a “high desert” region of the country, currently has a tree canopy of only 5.2 percent.) • Reducing Water Consumption - Promote the responsible use of water in partnership with Truckee Meadows Water Authority, the city’s water utility. Enforce existing and implement new stormwater management practices and standards to protect water quality, including Low Impact Development (LID) standards for new development, green infrastructure, and sustainable, site development standards. Expand use of waste water for beneficial reuse. n Sustainable City Network will host a free, 1-hour webinar on Thursday, Jan. 24 on the sustainability initiatives of the city of Reno, Nev. Presented by Reno Sustainability Manager Lynne Barker, the presentation will describe the sustainability principles reinforced in citywide goals and policies adopted in the City of Reno Master Plan, as well as the more specific strategies identified in the city’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. Register at

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Sustainable City Network Magazine

The Role of Urban Forests in Sustainable Communities A Mix of Native and Non-Native Trees Is Best BY JULIANNE COUCH Urban trees should not be an afterthought or taken for granted like, well, something that grows on trees. Instead, they should be included in all stages of planning for sustainable communities.

DAN BUCKLER is an urban forest analyst with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

JUSTIN EVERTSON is assistant director of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.

Whether you see urban trees as art, infrastructure or the lungs of a city, they are important assets in a community. They not only help establish a sense and pride of place, but they also provide many critical ecosystem services along with measurable benefits related to human health and infrastructure. In spite of the irony of housing developments being named for the trees they’ve displaced, Dan Buckler of the Wisconsin Division of Natural Resources argues that people do like and value trees, both at the personal and community level. Findings from a recent Wisconsin DNR study showed people value trees for the way they improve the appearance of property, provide shade on hot days, improve air quality, and make the neighborhood a better place to live.

Buckler said trees can be the answer to bringing life back to urban environments that have become hot, depressing “cathedrals of concrete.” Trees provide three important benefits that make their incorporation into city planning vital: 1) Environmental benefits, such as erosion control, air purification, storm water management and carbon reduction. 2) Economic benefits such as higher property values, environmental savings, more money spent in an area that is regarded as pleasant, and more jobs. 3) Social benefits including improved human health and a sense of place and beauty. A neighborhood with trees is also correlated with lower crime, because they improve walkability, putting more people on the street and lowering opportunistic crime.

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“Trees are more than just pretty,” Buckler said. “They are doing heavy engineering work. If we’ve recognized the benefits, then we should plan for that.” The good news is that there are tools planners can use to incorporate trees into their communities. The iTree suite of software is a free tool communities can use to map their urban tree canopy, inventory existing trees and calculate the ecological, economical and health benefits of current or future plantings. “By knowing the leaf area of a tree or group of trees you know how many pollutants it can remove,” Buckler said. That way its value can be quantified, which goes a long way at city budget time. The iTree tool helps planners know where to put trees and how to put the right tree in each location. “You can put in your priorities, and it can show a general area where trees can do the most good,” Buckler said. For instance, if your priority is public health, you might be looking at how to make the air cleaner to breathe in an area with heavy traffic or industry. Planting trees there could be part of a strategy to improve the air in that vicinity. Buckler said there are observable and predictable public health patterns related to demographics. There is a consistent correlation between income and canopy cover, with concentrations of minority populations typically corresponding to areas where trees are scarce. That’s why trees should be included in the environmental justice aspects of city planning, he said. “We are going to put trees where they are most needed to make it equitably,” Buckler said. Putting the right tree in the right place has been a concern for humans dating back centuries, said Justin Evertson, assistant director of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum. He understands the tension between the desire to plant only native vegetation for ecological reasons, as well as the desire for decorative non-native trees that tend to be drought and insect resistant. “People and animals have been moving plants around for a long time,” Evertson explained. Describing the phytogeography of the area around Lincoln, Neb., at the time of settlement, Evertson said the city in the 1850s was a treeless plain. “Now we’re a community of forests because we understood the benefits of trees before air conditioning.”


Photo: Nebraska Forest Service

■■ The Benefits of Trees

Trees provide beauty, comfort, shade, energy conservation, stormwater absorption, wildlife habitat, human health, food, lumber and many other benefits.

Evertson takes a long view of which plants are native and which are not. How far back does a tree’s credentials need to go? After all, glaciation was a major contributor to the shifting of where plants could grow. Since the vast ice sheets melted, the last 10,000 years have provided a warming and drying period that has dramatically changed the landscape. Evertson said some trees are “ghosts” of another time that survived because they were eaten and distributed by big herbivores that existed in the Pleistocene epoch. The ginkgo tree is an example of a Nebraska native tree that flourished 50 to 60 million years ago. Today, people are planting them again, with success, although their appeal to current wildlife species may be limited. A native tree can support hundreds of native bird and insect species. For example, an oak tree supports more than 500 species of moths and butterflies. By contrast, the frequently planted and non-native ornamental pear tree is not known to provide habitat to any moths or butterflies. Trees that are native or near-native have an important role to play, Evertson said. They offer adaptability, survivability, cultural connections, a sense of place and biodiversity. However, they can’t do it alone. “Trees aren’t native to a place. They are native to ecosystems. Trees in the forests share canopy and root space and help sustain each other.” This doesn’t mean communities and individuals should feel free to plant anything, whether native or non-native, because anything can get out of control and become undesirable. For example, the only evergreen native to Nebraska is the eastern red cedar. “It used to be planted in small pockets as farmstead windbreaks. Now it has run amok in woods and is overtaking grasslands, advancing north and displacing prairie where we raise beef,” Evertson said.

Native plants alone cannot be chosen for planting in an urban environment, because that landscape itself is not native. There are conflicts, such as pavement being poured around and over the top of tree roots; trees being absent from subdivisions but marshaled into unnatural rows on their edges; pavement conflicts; poor nursery stock and poor care. There are also lawn-related impacts such as trees taking overspray from lawn herbicides or damaged by weedwhackers. There are also insects, diseases, and climate change exacerbated by heat islands and low biodiversity. All this adds up to the idea that it is preferable to make room for non-natives plants. “We need these immigrants to help us out,” Evertson said.

Non-natives can successfully ward off insects that could quickly bring down a native. For example, the Japanese beetle is an insect that seemingly has never encountered a leaf it wouldn’t eat, but not so, Evertson says. The silver linden is a non-native plant that the insect doesn’t like. Another virtue of non-natives is that they help expand the palate of suitable trees for landscape use. Many are highly tolerant of urban conditions, including horse chestnut, Miyabe maple, and European beech. Evertson says the line between native and non-native is “not a litmus test” to determine what to plant. Species are only “invasive” when they are “non-natives that harm native ecosystems.” Non-natives have a role to play because native plants are often not suitable to urban conditions. Some native species are fussy about where they are sited. They can be prone to invasive insects and diseases. They produce fruits and seeds which may make an unwelcome mess on public sidewalks or other locations where trees cannot receive constant attention. Non-natives have disadvantages too, because many are invasive, many are over planted, and they do relatively little to sustain biodiversity. Evertson says communities are contrived spaces that can’t function like native ecosystems, because there are too many human needs and desires in conflict with natural processes. However, people can do much more within communities to help sustain native biodiversity. “We should strive for a smart balance of native and non-native species. Perhaps 50/50 would be a good ratio.” n

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Sustainable City Network Magazine

Ecotourism Can Benefit Rural Communities How to Turn Isolation into a Destination BY JOAN MOONEY

FRED LOCHNER is senior development specialist at MSA Professional Services in Baraboo, Wis.

GREG BRUCE is principal of sustainability on the Townsville City Council in Queensland Australia.

CINDY ADAMS DUNN is secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

MEREDITH HILL is director of the Pennsylvania Wilds for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural.

JAKE JENSEN is a student at Loras College in Dubuque, who helped start the Dubuque Area Reduce Reuse Recycle Network.

In 2006, Fred Lochner was hired by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to help it decide what the group could do with some land it had bought in a remote part of Pennsylvania. (Lochner, an engineer who has long worked in parks and recreation, is now senior development specialist at MSA Professional Services in Baraboo, Wis.)

The role of local government, said Bruce is “to build and provide investment opportunities, so investigating all evolving markets matters.” The important areas for ecotourism are ones that can make money but also protect the environment and social conditions of the people living there.

He went to visit the area and stayed in a farmhouse on the property. The next morning, he found a herd of elk outside the window.

Millennials are a particularly good audience for ecotourism, Bruce said, as they “want to tread lightly and gain a full experience.”

Lochner thought, “What if people who grew up in the city could experience this?” Pittsburgh was only two and a half hours away, and New York, Baltimore and Washington were less than a day’s drive.

Where has ecotourism been successful?

His idea turned out to be an inspired way to revive an economically depressed area decimated by strip mining. Lochner saw it as an opportunity for nature tourism, now expanded to ecotourism. Ecotourism is distinguished from most visits to natural areas by its “emphasis on conservation, education, traveler responsibility and active community participation,” according to the Nature Conservancy. It can be a path to economic self-sufficiency for rural areas whose main assets may be their natural resources.

The Pennsylvania Wilds, which grew out of Lochner’s vision of urban residents driving to enjoy the elk and natural landscape of the area, has become an ecotourism success story.

“Ecotourism is a driving force for economic, social and environmental change in the world,” said Greg Bruce, principal of sustainability on the Townsville City Council in Queensland Australia. Bruce participated in a recent international conference on ecotourism in Queensland. “Ecotourism includes a different way of thinking about the environment, whilst accounting for the social and economic needs of people in the areas that the activities are occurring in.”

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Pennsylvania Wilds

“We wanted to deliver all the assets we have to all Pennsylvanians in a place-based approach that makes public lands an economic and community asset,” said Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Initially, residents whose property was surrounded by public lands felt that the restrictions on the land limited the area’s economic potential. But the county planning offices in the 13-county area saw the public land as an asset. One-quarter or more of the state parks are in the region, plus 3.1 million acres of state forest land. The Civilian Conservation Corps was active in the area during the 1930s, and conservation was always a high priority.


That was before logging destroyed much of the area’s natural beauty. But Gov. Ed Rendell, who served from 2003 to 2011, saw the value of bringing the land back, making it into a destination for outdoor recreation. To make the region accessible to visitors, the state has spent close to $130 million over the past decade to upgrade the infrastructure. That included everything from improving the roads and signage, to building hiking trails along old railroad beds, to building modern restrooms. The aim was to create a regional destination focused around ecotourism assets. One major asset is the elk, the largest free-ranging herd in the Northeast. Visitors can learn more about the elk at the Elk Country Visitors Center that has been built in the small town of Benezette, Penn. Another asset is the dark sky natural to a rural area and pronounced in the Pennsylvania Wilds because of the isolation. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared the area the number one place for stargazing east of the Mississippi. Now Cherry Springs State Park has observation domes and astronomers teaching visitors how to photograph the night sky. One key to the project’s success is state officials’ efforts to engage local residents, said Meredith Hill, who works in DCNR as director of the Pennsylvania Wilds. “That’s an area of the state that’s never done strong zoning,” said Hill. “But the planning office of the country offered a lot of assistance.” The office created a design guide for the community, asking residents what they want their community to look like and what story they want to tell to visitors. For instance, the exhibits in the Visitors Center talk about lumbering as an important part of the region’s history. The region has some of the most valuable hardwoods in the world, and the cherry wood is exported to China as part of an effort to diversify the economy, Hill said. “When the Pennsylvania Wilds started, it was all about tourism,” said Dunn. But planners learned that boosting tourism should never be at the expense of the community’s wishes. “We worked deliberately to engage our youth,” Hill said. They developed a workshop exploring entrepreneurship around the area’s outdoor assets. The message, said Hill, was, “You don’t have to necessarily leave the area to make a living.” Today, visitors spend an estimated $1.7 billion annually in the Pennsylvania Wilds. Between 2009 and 2014, the latest data available, visitor spending grew an average of 33.7 percent; tourism employment grew 13.4 percent, and labor income from tourism jobs grew 26 percent.

“Understand the natural assets you do have,” said Dunn, “a river system, an old rail trail, state parks that have a theme and could be connected.” It’s important to work with community members. Then, figure out current visitor numbers and how you can enhance them, market the region and bring new people to the area.

Driftless Region Lochner, whose trip to north central Pennsylvania sparked the idea that grew into the Pennsylvania Wilds, is now focusing on an area in the Midwest that he feels has great ecotourism potential, the Driftless Region. Its cuts across Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. During the glacial period, each time the glaciers came down and receded, they missed this area, leaving layers of limestone sediment that creates a unique geology, Lochner said. It has a cold-water ecosystem so that a visitor who goes there in the summer and digs a hole will find extremely cold, fresh water. The Driftless has cliffs with rare wildflowers, dramatic caverns and a world class trout fishery. Sustainable Driftless, a nonprofit group, is promoting the idea that “you build vibrant, sustainable communities through nature tourism,” said Lochner. “You’re protecting that environment at the same time you’re promoting the economy.” Lochner is working with Sustainable Driftless to champion the idea that a large green space like the Driftless Region should be protected as cities grow around it. Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay and Minneapolis, with a total of 20 million people, are all within 225 miles of the Driftless. Several attempts have been made in the past to promote the natural assets of the Driftless, said Lochner, but working with four states has made it difficult. He is convinced that promoting the Driftless as an ecotourism destination can attract more young people. “Parks, trails and recreational amenities pump up the value for young people,” Lochner said. One of the benefits of tourism is that it allows people to live, work and play in that area. The Driftless has already seen a big economic payoff from promoting one of its biggest natural assets, excellent rivers for trout fishing. In 2016, trout fishers brought $1.6 billion to the region, up from $1.2 billion in 2008. Promoting an area as a nature tourism destination can also bring health benefits, Lochner said. His firm, MSA Professional Services, works with communities in the region, many of them below the poverty line. The University of Wisconsin extension plotted obesity rates by Zip code and found that the farther people live from urban areas, the higher their obesity rate and the worse their health. One explanation is that rural residents must drive everywhere, while city dwellers walk a lot.

What advice would Dunn and Hill have for other state and area officials who want to market an area as an ecotourism destination? [ 13 ]

Photo: Tim Jacobson

Sustainable City Network Magazine

■■ Nature as a Destination

The Driftless Region is an area in the American Midwest that was untouched by the continental glaciers of the last Ice Age. While the region has been protected from urbanization largely due to its rugged topography, that isolation has also threatened its sustainability. As Americans continue to migrate to cities, some rural areas like the Driftless Region are turning to ecotourism to both protect their treasured landscapes and produce sustainable vibrant rural communities as a result.

So, the multiuse bike trail that has been built in the Driftless area makes sense for everyone, not just tourists. Local citizens can use it to walk their dogs or ride their bicycles. What advice does Lochner have for state officials who want to promote ecotourism in their area? “If you’re in a region that’s lucky enough to have those natural resources, look to preserve them,” he said. “Also create a guest experience, and promote it. “If you have areas that don’t have beautiful scenic aspects but you’re still trying to compete, look at other aspects,” Lochner said. For example, planners could develop splash pads, a low impact recreational offering that does not need lifeguards.

Sustainable Dubuque Ecotourism is not just for wild rural areas. Dubuque, Iowa, is starting to promote itself as an ecotourism destination. One step is its use of a mapping system, where people looking for ecotourism destinations can find points of interest, from the Dubuque Arboretum to the Global Goods

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store that sells handmade articles created by artisans from developing nations. OpenGreenMap extends to 65 countries. Jake Jensen, a student at Loras College in Dubuque, helped start the Dubuque Area Reduce Reuse Recycle Network. He attended the ecotourism conference in Australia in November, sponsored in part by Green Dubuque. Jensen plans to give a presentation on Dubuque as a sustainable destination, including the Driftless Region and the importance of water quality. The area’s natural assets “should hopefully economically support our community,” Jensen said. At first blush, tourism might not seem environmentally friendly, he added. Tourists use carbon to drive or fly to their destination and produce waste by eating out while they are traveling. But “[tourists] are temporary locals, they’re part of your community,” said Jensen. “They want to come to your city because it’s environmentally friendly.” That’s the vision. And in some places, it’s already happening. n


Making Hazard Mitigation a Local Planning Priority Experts Advise Cities of Any Size to Plan Ahead for Disaster BY JULIANNE COUCH Through good urban planning, communities determine with logic and order how land is developed, how transportation systems work, and how water flows into and out of homes. At the same time, local governments work hard to be equitable, attractive, efficient and sustainable.

JAMES C. SCHWAB is chair-elect of the American Planning Association’s Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Division.

JENNIFER ELLISON is a planner in the Public Works department of Polk County, Iowa.

DOUG ONGIE is an environmental planner with Impact7G, based in Iowa.

But what happens when things don’t go as planned; when natural or manmade disasters unexpectedly bring chaos, confusion and tragedy? James C. Schwab, chair-elect of the American Planning Association’s Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Division, believes communities can and should make hazard mitigation a priority in their local planning process to become more resilient and better prepared for future disasters. As the now-retired senior research associate with the American Planning Association, he has been involved in disaster planning since 1990. Schwab and others spoke at the recent 11th annual Growing Sustainable Communities Conference in Dubuque, Iowa. He and Jennifer Ellison, a planner in the Public Works department in Polk County, Iowa, described various community responses to disastrous flooding and their varying degrees of success. They explained the Hazard Mitigation Act passed by Congress in 2000, which took into account the needs of emergency managers during a disaster, but included very little input from planners. At the time, Schwab believed the mode of operation needed to change to put planners at the table.

“There is only so much emergency managers can do because a lot is embedded in land use and building codes, which is not the stuff emergency managers are good at,” he said. Because of that, he went on to prepare a report, with the support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, titled Hazard Mitigation: Integrating Best Practices into Planning (2010). The report includes six case studies, including the 2008 Iowa floods that affected several large communities along major waterways. Ellison said 85 of 99 Iowa counties contained designated federal disaster areas that year. In Cedar Rapids, 10 square miles were flooded. In the college town of Iowa City, 1,600 acres were inundated. “It was one of Iowa’s largest natural disasters, and much of it was considered a 500-year flood. But now they happen more frequently,” she said. In Cedar Rapids, numerous essential services were completely destroyed, in part because they were located on an island in the Cedar River. The city hall, jail, municipal court facilities, central fire, central library, and the police headquarters were all flooded. The city’s municipal transportation hub and other local ground transportation facilities were also displaced. Three of four city collector wells and 46 vertical wells were disabled. Ellison outlined numerous lessons that can be learned from that experience. One is to “think before developing vulnerable floodplain locations and suffering the consequences.” It is better to minimize development in vulnerable areas by public acquisition for open space or parkland. She suggested either a public or private buyout of these lands, or at least development of one area while leaving vulnerable spots for parkland. “Roads can be overtaken by water, so emergency service response to these locations is a problem,” she added. As a result, planners should consider elevating roads and bridges, or planning detours. In a response to the flood of 2008, the Iowa Smart Planning Act was signed into law in 2010, as a way to guide and encourage the development of local comprehensive plans. The bill included 10 Smart Planning Principles to aid in local comprehensive plan development and public decision making. A sampling of these principles includes collaboration of public and private stakeholders; efficiency, transparency, consistency in planning, zoning, development, and resource management; natural resources and agriculture protection; and sustainable design, which results in efficient use of land, energy, water, air and materials. [ 15 ]

Sustainable City Network Magazine

Schwab said his report included case studies from large, medium and small jurisdictions to prove that disaster planning can be effective even is small communities with limited resources. He said planners in Lee County, Fla., based in Ft. Myers, set a good example by starting with a clear vision, setting reasonable goals and integrating their hazard mitigation plan into the county’s comprehensive plan, which brought together mitigation for the county and five municipalities into a unified plan. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg MultiJurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan in North Carolina is a good example of a plan drafted for a major regional commercial hub, Schwab said. He said Charlotte was one of the first communities to quantify and map flood elevations and floodplain boundaries. It was a vanguard community in educating, involving, and helping constituents to reshape settlement patterns to avoid highrisk flood zones. They secured buy-in among stakeholders and elected officials through transparent methods, understandable data, and interactive mapping to illustrate future results.

“ It is better to minimize development in vulnerable areas by public acquisition for open space or parkland. She suggested either a public or private buyout of these lands, or at least development of one area while leaving vulnerable spots for parkland.”

Other case studies in Schwab’s report include mitigation plans from Roseville and Berkeley, Calif.; Bourne, Mass., and Morgan County, Utah. These medium and small jurisdictions each have unique circumstances that can create storm water hazards and topographical issues that exacerbate them. They also have challenges in working together across jurisdictions and factions. But Schwab said those locations with a strong tradition of communicating together are able to plan successfully, and create solutions that do not push problems down the road. “The idea of working together is key to all of these,” Schwab said. “That means finding what does not work and remembering that what you put off today will bite you tomorrow.” To help with that sort of cooperative long-range natural disaster planning, many communities turn to professional environmental services. Doug Ongie, an environmental planner with Impact7G, based in Iowa, defined a resilient community as one that is “able to resist and rapidly recover from disasters or other shocks with minimal outside assistance.” However, many communities are paralyzed after a disaster because their planning has been inadequate. For example, what happens if you lose a major facility overnight, such as a school?

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“Something as basic as where people are to go the day after should not be overlooked,” Ongie said. “A simple disaster plan could go a long way.” He noted that the Upper Midwest is having more frequent severe storm events and higher levels of precipitation. That has led to more billion-dollar disaster events, meaning higher flood and home insurance rates. Comparing the average observed total precipitation in the Midwest from 1901-1960 to the years 1991-2012 shows there has been a 9 percent increase in precipitation, Ongie said. Over the last 10 years, severe storms including tornadoes, wind, and hail are the most common and most expensive large events. “Tornadoes, wind and hail cause the most damage because they... cover large areas,” Ongie said.

A resilient community and a resilient state can adopt policy or building codes that minimize the dollar amount of these claims, he said. For example, Iowa and Illinois have among the highest costs for flood insurance because claim numbers are up. Interestingly, claims are down on flood insurance in many parts of the country, perhaps because people are proactive and moving out of flood plains or because high premiums are chasing them away, Ongie said. Ongie described strategies and tactics he recommends to any community, noting that it can be difficult to get all local entities on the same page. First, know that resilience planning can take place at the regional, city or site level. There should be planning for hazard mitigation, a comprehensive plan, a school district plan and an infrastructure plan. “Go beyond checking the box with hazard mitigation plans and identify areas of high risk,” Ongie said. He encouraged planners to consider changes to zoning and building codes prior to major disasters. As storms increase in frequency and intensity, it might not make sense to rebuild the same structures in the same locations, he said, and these decisions are best made before the chaos of a catastrophic event. Planning for when, where and how to relocate people is also important from a social equity standpoint, as flood plains are often where the most vulnerable people live. It is essential to identify vulnerable populations and plan for relocation or assistance programs before the disaster strikes, Ongie said.


Photo: FEMA/Mark Wolfe

■■ Historic Storm

As many as 1,145 homes were damaged and 200 destroyed in Sumter County when an outbreak of three tornadoes hit central Florida over the course of one hour and seventeen minutes on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, 2007. The “supercell” line of thunderstorms resulted in a 70-mile trail of damage, killing 21 people.

Sustainable City Network hosted two online courses in 2018 focusing on hazard mitigation and post-disaster recovery planning. Recordings and course materials can be purchased and downloaded in our online store:

Hazard Mitigation Planning Fundamentals, featuring instructor Kimberly Burton; and Post-Disaster Recovery Planning Before and After, featuring instructor James Schwab. n [ 17 ]

Sustainable City Network Magazine

Chemists Develop Carbon Fibers from Greenhouse Gas Algae Could Sustainably Reduce the CO2 Concentration in the Atmosphere BY THE CARY INSTITUTE OF ECOSYSTEM STUDIES

PROF. THOMAS BRÜCK is chair of synthetic biotechnology in the Chemistry department at the Technical University of Munich..

Photo: Kolja Kuse/TechnoCarbonTechnologies

In collaboration with fellow researchers, chemists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed a process that, according to initial calculations, can facilitate economically removing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The latest World Climate Report (IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5° C) acknowledges the global relevance of the process.

There is an acute need for action if global warming is to be mitigated to a reasonable extent. In this context, the current World Climate Report winks at a technology developed by chemists at the Technical University of Munich. Opening an option for a net carbon sink, the technology tackles the problem of atmospheric warming at the root.

A beam made of carbon fiber reinforced granite is load-bearing like steel, light as aluminum and extremely durable.

A Climate-Neutral Process Important technical groundwork was done by Professor Thomas Brück and his team at the Algae Cultivation Center of the Technical University of Munich. The algae investigated at the center not only produce biofuel, but can also be used to efficiently produce polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fibers. The energy of parabolic solar reflectors then chars the PAN-fibers to yield carbon fibers in a CO2-neutral manner.

Photo: A. Battenberg/TUM

Algae convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, power plants or steel processing exhaust into algae oil. In a subsequent step, this is then used to produce valuable carbon fibers – economically, as initial analyses show.

■■ Carbon Fiber Reinforced Granite

■■ Strong and Light

The carbon fiber reinforcement gives the granite plate an extremely high strength, enabling completely new, efficient constructions.

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A Climate-Friendly Economic Model Brück’s colleague Prof. Uwe Arnold and engineer Kolja Kuse also examined the economic aspects, technical applications and environmental impact of the entire process. “This is a novel, climatefriendly economic model in which we intelligently combine standard processes with innovations,” says Arnold. “When you make plastics from carbon dioxide, it is quickly returned to the atmosphere through waste incineration plants following a few years of use,” says Kuse. “With the final safe storage, we remove the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for millennia. This also makes the process clearly superior to carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the underground.” Carbon fibers from algae are no different from conventional fibers and can therefore be used in all existing processes. Another important field of application could be the construction industry, which accounts for a significant proportion of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Carbon fibers can replace structural steel in construction materials. Thanks to their strength, they save on cement, and granite reinforced with carbon fiber can even be used to produce beams that have the same load-bearing capacity as steel but are as lightweight as aluminum.

Algae Farms the Size of Algeria Brück now plans to further improve the algae technology. Large-scale plants are conceivable in southern Europe and North Africa. “The system is easily scalable to large areas,” says Brück. “Plants which together would cover the size of Algeria would offset all CO2 emissions from air transport.” Brück rejects any suggestion that the technology would compete with the agricultural use of land, as is the case with biogas. “Saltwater algae thrive in sunny areas. In North Africa, for example, there are ample stretches of land where agriculture makes no sense.” The research was funded by the Werner Siemens Foundation and the European Business Council for Sustainable Energy (e5), among other groups. n

■■ AlgaeTec

Chemists working in the AlgaeTec facility at the Technical University of Munich have developed a process that can make strong and light construction materials out of greenhouse gases.

Photo: Andreas Heddergott

Carbon fibers can be deployed to produce lightweight and highstrength materials. At the end of their life cycle, the carbon fibers can be stockpiled in empty coal seams, permanently removing the associated carbon dioxide equivalents from the atmosphere.

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Sustainable City Network Magazine

Transportation Demand Management: Taking Wheels Off the Road Planners Make It Easier to Travel Without Driving BY JOAN MOONEY Eric Sundquist, managing director of the State Smart Transportation Initiative at the University of Wisconsin, said we have been going about the problem of traffic congestion all wrong.

ERIC SUNDQUIST is managing director of the State Smart Transportation Initiative at the University of Wisconsin.

Instead of “destroying the village to save it” – making roads wider and development more auto-centric – we should approach traffic from the demand perspective. That means figuring out how to reduce traffic and reduce the number and length of car trips, especially singleoccupancy vehicle trips. That’s more complicated, but it may be less expensive than widening roads. And it is likely more effective in the long term. Cities and drivers alike have seen areas where there’s a short period of relief after roads are widened, only to see the wider roads just as clogged six months or a year later.

LAURA LOGES is director of marketing and public affairs for the Miami Valley, Ohio, Regional Planning Commission.

KIMBERLY BURTON is president of Burton Planning Services in Westerville, Ohio.

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There’s another problem with focusing on the supply part of traffic management. “When you put in wider roads, that squeezes out other modes of transportation,” said Sundquist. “Let’s put a thumb on the scale (to favor other modes).” That’s transportation demand management, which focuses on reducing the number and length of auto trips, especially in peak travel times. TDM includes a variety of measures, ranging from subsidized carpooling apps run by the city to make carpooling easier, to incentives such as subsidized transit passes, to bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

California led the way in 2013 City planners have focused more on TDM in the past five years. Pasadena, Calif., led the effort when it passed a new set of planning metrics in 2013. “(The city was) responding to this notion that they kept widening the roads but it didn’t make things better,” said Sundquist. “It made it harder to walk, and there was more traffic because of that.” Pasadena was responding to a new California law, SB 743. The state law changed the focus of the environmental review process from measuring cars’ wait time at intersections and their ability to drive at the speed limit, to instead measuring vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The change was made largely because VMT “is a better indicator of vehicle emissions – the true environmental impact – and to better support active transportation modes” such as walking and biking. The quote is from Modernizing Mitigation: A Demand-Centered Approach, published in September 2018 by the Mayors Innovation Project and the State Smart Transportation Initiative. Sundquist is a lead author. In California, “the new law prompted several cities to broadly rethink supply-side mitigation and reorient their mitigation framework toward demand management,” the report says. In this context, mitigation means “actions taken to address transportation impacts from land use changes.” Pasadena, for example, adopted a set of metrics that all large new developments must adhere to, including maximum VMT per capita (22.6 daily), maximum vehicle trips per capita, and other metrics such as bicycle facilities, transit facilities and the city’s Pedestrian Accessibility Score. “Meeting the requirements is relatively easy in the urban core,” the report says. “For developers that are farther from the urban core, developers may need to add a mixed-use component, build a bike facility, or improve transit access by providing shuttle service or paying for a route modification.” All of those measures are less costly and less disruptive than widening roads.

From employer-run to city-run mitigation measures “There are a fair number of TDM measures that are run through employers,” Sundquist said. Large employers may offer subsidized transit passes or bike lockers. “What’s less common is to push that notion to the way the city operates as a whole.”


For example, as part of an effort to lower VMT, a city can change the traditional parking requirements for new developments. Historically, cities have required new residential developments to have a minimum number of parking spaces per residential unit. But a plan being developed in Los Angeles takes the opposite approach, requiring mitigation measures to “offset” parking spaces they provide as part of a development. In some cities, such as San Francisco, developers can earn mitigation points or credits by implementing a variety of measures. These can include improvements in bicycle infrastructure and amenities, a bikeshare program, a carpooling program (more on that below), and improvements to the pedestrian network, among others. The aim is to involve developers in the effort to lower the city’s VMT. More broadly, “a city can try to reduce the need to travel for all kinds of things, or reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles,” he said. “What congests the roads the most, for travelers and governments, is single-occupancy vehicles.”

Setting up carpools to decrease VMT One way to cut the number of single-occupancy vehicles is to encourage carpooling. Many large employers organize carpools for their workers. City and regional governments have started to do the same. Some, such as Miami Valley, Ohio, use a centrally run computer program, and others, such as Palo Alto, Calif., use carpooling apps such as Scoop and Waze. Nearly 40 years ago, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission started a region-wide carpooling program in response to the oil embargo of the mid-1970s. The RIDESHARE program now uses a software program, RideAmigos, that allows users to fill in information about where they live and work so it can look for carpool matches. Users receive a list of carpool matches, and the rest is up to the individuals. Organizers encourage people to meet ahead of time in a neutral location and figure out the route and timing. “It’s a way to try to eliminate the uncertainty of getting in a car with a stranger,” said Laura Loges, director of marketing and public affairs for the Miami Valley RPC. Members of the carpool can decide if they want two or three people in the group. “If it’s over four, we try to get them into a vanpool,” Loges said. RIDESHARE has several vanpools that go to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the largest employer in the area. RIDESHARE provides a $700 monthly subsidy to encourage the vanpools. The efforts are paying off. In 2010, the Brookings Institution found that while carpooling declined nationwide in the 2000s, of the 100 largest metro areas, only Dayton saw an increase.

Carpooling – There’s an app for that Many urban dwellers are accustomed to using an app for transportation, to call an Uber or Lyft. But some research has shown that such ridehailing companies increase the number of cars on the road. So what about using an app to create carpools? Miami Valley RIDESHARE looked into that and was dissuaded by research showing that people don’t want to download one more app. But some do. And Google is ready to serve them with its new Waze Carpool smartphone app, which rolled out nationally in October. Like RideAmigos, users type in their home and work location and commuting hours to look for a ride or offer one. One advantage to users is that they can then drive in the carpool lane in large urban areas. Cities are starting to sign up. Palo Alto uses both Scoop, another carpooling app, and Waze. It’s another tool for the Palo Alto Transportation Management Association, which was formed in January 2016 to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles downtown. Besides carpooling, it also uses transit subsidies and bicycling incentives. Users who download the city’s free Scoop app are guaranteed a price of just $2 — subsidized by the city – for pickup from their home (within a 40-mile radius of downtown Palo Alto) to their job in the city. In thirdquarter 2018, Scoop had 207 active users a month, with a slight increase in each of the first three quarters of the year. Waze Carpool, which was being tested in California before being rolled out nationwide, had 90 active users a month in the third quarter. What are the downsides to carpooling apps? Safety and reliability may be two. “Do you want to get in a car with a complete stranger?” said Kimberly Burton, president of Burton Planning Services, Westerville, Ohio. She notes that young people are more trusting and perhaps more willing to take such a risk. Waze does offer the option for women to request a female driver. Another potential downside is the social equity component, Burton said. Lower-income urban residents may not have smartphones and cannot download a “free” app. Transportation demand management measures such as city-organized carpooling and subsidized transit may require a change in priorities for many cities. “None of these things are brain surgery,” said Sundquist. “The hardest things are the requirements you’re under as a developer to provide a lot of parking and make it easier to drive. We can’t make everything super-caraccessible and expect people to walk. They’ll drive because it’s easier.” The job of cities that care about sustainability is to make it just as easy to use other modes of transportation. n

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SEE YOU NEXT YEAR! Ideal crop marks

March 31–April 3, 2019 Tucson, Arizona

Sustainable City Network Magazine Vol. 30  

Sustainable City Network Magazine, Vol. 30, is a compilation of the most popular articles on in the fourth quarter of 2018....

Sustainable City Network Magazine Vol. 30  

Sustainable City Network Magazine, Vol. 30, is a compilation of the most popular articles on in the fourth quarter of 2018....