Cities find value in sustainability

By Stephanie Rico
September 20th, 2011

Tammy ZborelI’m pleased to introduce you to our guest blogger Tammy Zborel, senior associate of the Sustainability Program within the Center for Research and Innovation of the National League of Cities (NLC). Tammy is also the author of a useful action guide that is full of facts and figures that can be used for building the business case for sustainability in communities nationwide. Here’s Tammy! (—Stephanie)

We’ve all heard the buzz: “Green is the new black” and “Save green, go green.” But what does it all mean? What are the economic benefits of sustainability? And what actions can cities in particular take to see returns on their sustainability investments?

These were all questions that prompted a recent guide, Sustainable Connections: Strategies to Support Local Economies, produced by the National League of Cities’ Sustainability Program through a grant from Wells Fargo.

Too often when talking about sustainability strategies or motives, the most immediate examples tend to involve cutting back—either reducing energy use or minimizing waste, for example—or focus largely on environmental rationale and benefits.

While those messages are all extremely important factors to achieve sustainability goals, they fail to capture and convey the full range of benefits and opportunities of sustainability initiatives.

While far from a comprehensive assessment, this guide was developed to help demonstrate economic benefits of sustainability through looking at five specific activities: urban forestry, community design, complete streets, food access, and “green” buildings. These strategies represent actions that many cities can implement regardless of size or geography.

The NLC's Sustainability Program produced this guide through a grant from Wells Fargo. (Click to view PDF)Economic benefits associated with these efforts range from the expected, like direct cost savings and support for local businesses, to the more far-reaching, including job creation, increased private investment, tourism revenue, attraction or retention of residents and skilled workers, and reduced health care costs.

In developing this resource, NLC’s Sustainability Program hopes to begin a conversation and build awareness among the economic development community about the benefits that come with sustainability efforts.

As many cities continue to work within a challenging economic landscape, we believe that sustainability initiatives can offer important opportunities for local governments to overcome these challenges and take steps toward building a stronger more resilient future.

For more information about NLC’s Sustainability Program, please check out our website or contact us at!

Stephanie Rico

Stephanie Rico

Stephanie focuses on helping Wells Fargo achieve its goal of accelerating a transition to a “greener” economy via finance and support of our customers who are looking to take advantage of the benefits of renewable energy and clean technology. Stephanie has a BA in Social Science, Interdisciplinary Studies from San Francisco State University and an MBA from DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business.

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