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Cities and counties from across the nation are pioneering new clean energy solutions that could help end our nation’s oil addiction and create good jobs, according to the most recent report from the Apollo Alliance. Four Ohio municipalities: Bowling Green, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, are highlighted in the national report. Policy Matters Ohio, Apollo’s Ohio partner, is thrilled that New Energy for Cities highlights dozens of representative municipal programs that promote renewable power, reduce oil consumption, make buildings more efficient and promote smart growth. The mission of Ohio Apollo is to work with Ohio’s cities to adopt these policies and create jobs through environmentally sound and energy efficient solutions.
Our economy, our communities, our workforce, and our environment are at a crossroads. Past practices and policies of the conventional energy economy produced an economy with vast amounts of waste and low road economic development that left our workers behind, our communities impoverished, our residents dependent on fossil fuels imported from out of state, and our environment polluted.
More than 7,317 properties in the city of Cleveland are vacant and distressed – considered likely to require demolition.1 The nonprofit Thriving Communities Institute – part of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy -- estimates there are more than 25,000 vacant properties in Cuyahoga County.2 Few of these lots are green spaces, a tragic loss of opportunity for their neighborhoods. Green spaces include neighborhood gardens, pocket parks, vineyards, and orchards – something more than a green lawn. Greening vacant lots deliberately and with frequent upkeep can raise the standard of living. Green spaces encourage business investment, inhibit crime, improve environmental health and maintain the community in a neighborhood.
The goal of the Reuse Roadmap is to develop a high-level approach to help guide utilities and industry decision-makers in issues to address when considering water reuse Like the Energy and Nutrients roadmaps, the Water Reuse roadmap is brief and high level to be accessible to all types of stakeholders, including public officials, utility managers, operators, engineers, and regulators The roadmap will not "reinvent the wheel," with all of the great technical resources available. Rather, the focus will be to help decision-makers to quickly understand the strategic issues inherent in a water reuse effort
In the face of climate change crisis, it is urgent for policymakers at state, local, and city level to make transition to clean and renewable energy. However, the construction of renewable projects is usually capital-intensive and requires bank’s upfront investment. Green banks help these green projects by managing and investing public capital based on following principles: supporting small projects, de-risking new technologies, and reducing perceived risks. Existing green banks have already proven that their public investment can catalyze private co-investment, and these projects earn economic benefits for private investors and consumers. The green banks could be further empowered by the establishment of National Climate Bank.
Municipal bonds are one financing tool well suited to close the U.S. infrastructure investment gap. The U.S. municipal bond market has funded large-scale, long-term capital-intensive projects in states and cities, as well as their operational expenses, since the beginning of the 1900s. The market is large, with investors today holding a total of $3.7 trillion of U.S. municipal debt. Different types of investors are attracted to the muni bond market, but individuals are the dominant investors, either directly as individual retail investors or through mutual funds, accounting for more than 70 percent of the market. This is largely because the vast majority of muni bonds are issued as tax-exempt instruments: of the $3.7 trillion in outstanding muni bonds, only approximately $600 billion are taxable. Because individuals tend to have significant tax liability, tax-exempt muni bonds are attractive investment opportunities. Some federal programs also offer additional subsidies to attract tax exempt investors, such as pension funds, to the U.S. muni bond market.
The Sheboygan Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is recognized as a nationwide leader in energy efficiency in the water and wastewater treatment sector. Sheboygan WWTP has implemented numerous energy-saving measures, mostly by replacing aging equipment with energy-efficient models.
A local government can have immediate impact on the energy performance of one of the key facilities under its control by targeting wastewater and water treatment facilities. Wastewater plants and drinking water systems can account for up to one-third of a municipality's total energy bill. These facilities represent a significant portion of controllable energy usage and offer opportunities for cost-effective investments in energy-efficient technologies.
Although the traditional linear economy brought much prosperity, it has functioned by taking primary resources, turning them into products, and disposing of the waste. In the face of the global climate change crisis, cities need to transit to circular economy. In a city with a circular economy, “reduce-reuse-recycle” will replace “take-make-dispose”. Five areas are central to circular economies: citizen engagement, waste as a resource, Circular design and planning models, New models of procurement, Circular economy incubators and start-up ecosystems. It is also important for city leaders to work with private sector to secure the funds for circular program. Urban mobility will be carbon-neutral, relying on low- to zero-emission vehicles within a broader energy network powered by renewables. Cities and businesses will also generate savings from using recycled building materials and turning waste into fuel to power buses.
Over the past year, NRDC has been commissioned by the Ford Foundation to lead a cross-disciplinary research team to explore the challenges of generating more and better infrastructure investments to build 21st-century communities. Our work included a literature review, interviews with investors and city officials (including a close engagement in the cities of Denver and Los Angeles), and collaboration with national and international stakeholders through the White House's Build America Initiative and the Clinton Global Initiative America Infrastructure Working Group. We believe that the United States can no longer treat infrastructure like an ongoing crisis, but must approach it as an opportunity not to be missed. We have focused on cities because they often play a critical role in projects' design, planning, construction, and financing. Our findings and lessons, however, apply to any level of local government.