Sustainable Environments Program
We're working to overhaul our country's outdated and crumbling infrastructure with a new approach, what we call "next generation" infrastructure. We seek solutions that connect four major systems — transportation, buildings, water and food — to build healthier, sustainable and just communities.
Sustainable Transportation Networks
Historically, transportation projects — like highways and train tracks — have often physically split many communities along race and income lines. And, public transit systems, such as bus and subway lines, have been underfunded in favor of roads and highways.
We support a different approach for communities and envision Sustainable Transportation & Equitable Development Patterns where:
- People can get to work, school and home via reliable, interconnected, and affordable public transportation.
- Transportation policy and land use is driven by the needs and interests of low-income communities who are most dependent on public transit.
- Investments in transit projects create more jobs and economic opportunities for local residents.
- Major transportation projects do not harm the environment and instead, revitalize communities and revive our manufacturing sector.
- Transportation solutions meet other infrastructure needs (for example, designs include stormwater management measures or delivery routes that bring locally produced food to urban markets).
Regional Food Supply
Global food business consolidation has choked off regional food supply chains, making it difficult to buy fresh, healthy, sustainably produced local food.
We support a different approach for communities and envision a Regional Food Supply where:
- Regional farms are more profitable because they have access to nearby urban markets that use innovative aggregation and distribution systems.
- Regional food supply is common in local planning.
- Large numbers of food hubs and other regional food supply chains bring fresh, local, and affordable food to surrounding communities. In addition, food hubs bolster local economies by providing high quality jobs and food supply business opportunities.
- A significant percentage of food is grown or produced locally, increasing food quality, safety, and access.
- Local food supply reduces the miles food travels from farm to plate, reducing regional greenhouse gas emissions and helps meet other infrastructure needs (for example, growing spaces and gardens that assist in stormwater management, or distribution routes that help address transportation and food access issues).
Urban Water Management
Many city water and sewer pipes are more than half a century old and unable to handle rising stormwater levels. This wastes resources, increases health risks, and contributes to flooding and polluted waterways. We need to use limited dollars in smarter ways to upgrade this infrastructure.
We support a different approach for communities and envision Urban Water Management where:
- A large percentage of municipalities across the country embrace green infrastructure as the primary way to control storm water.
- A combination of water retrofits (installation of green infrastructure on individual properties) and energy retrofits become common practice.
- Green infrastructure helps communities minimize urban flooding issues.
- Communities embrace green infrastructure as ways to beautify and improve outdoor space for activities such as recreation, tourism, and urban farming.
- Storm water reforms spur new thinking on how we manage and treat storm, waste, and drinking water.
- Innovative water management systems meet other infrastructure needs (for example, green infrastructure that is done in parallel with transportation improvements or building energy retrofits).
Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment
Buildings contribute to nearly 40% of our country's carbon emissions, which run up costs and compound environmental problems.
We support a different approach for communities and envision Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment where:
- The majority of homes, businesses and buildings in cities are energy efficient or "retrofitted".
- Low-income families can retrofit their homes in an affordable way, leading to lower energy bills and increased property values.
- Energy efficiency retrofits create high quality jobs that can't be outsourced.
- Retrofits lead to large-scale reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Retrofit programs meet other infrastructure needs (for example, a building retrofit that includes a green roof helps with stormwater management).
Infographic by: Keri Rosebraugh, an artist, illustrator and muralist focusing on sustainable industries and environmentally themed pieces.