The Guide to Greening Cities | U.S. Green Building Council
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The Guide to Greening Cities

GBCI: 0920004646

This self-paced reading activity explores the environmental impact of cities.
Eligible for 2 CE HOURS.
  • 2 CE

Published on: June 23, 2015

Average: 4.2 (21 votes)


This reading based online course offers reading excerpts from the book The Guide to Greening Cities by Sadhu Aufochs Johnston, Steven S. Nicholas, and Julia Parzen. The Guide to Greening Cities is the first book written from the perspective of municipal leaders with successful, on-the-ground experience working to advance green city goals. Through personal reflections and interviews with leading municipal staff in cities from San Antonio to Minneapolis, the authors share lessons for cities to lead by example in their operations, create programs, implement high-priority initiatives, develop partnerships, measure progress, secure funding, and engage the community. Case studies and chapters highlight strategies for overcoming common challenges such as changes of leadership and fiscal austerity. The book is augmented by a companion website, launching with the publication of the book, which offers video interviews of municipal leaders, additional case studies, and other resources. For more information or to purchase the full book, please visit

In this course, you will read the following excerpts from the book:

“Introduction: The New Urban Imperative” outlines the importance of cities’ environmental impact on a global scale, pointing out that while they can have tremendously negative effects, that they can also be pivot points for dramatic improvement. As many national governments have yet to enact clear, decisive policies on dealing with environmental change and increasing sustainability, municipal governments have found themselves on the leading edge of many key green initiatives. Their lessons and innovations form the basis for the material laid out in this book.

“Leading from the Inside Out: Greening City Buildings and Operations” begins by discussing the importance of city sustainability programs leading by example to raise awareness within the city population about possible green solutions and building confidence about their workability. With that principle in mind, the chapter then covers a wide array greening initiatives targeting everything from green roofs to renewable energy vouchers to recycling construction materials, always with real examples and insightful commentary from municipal leaders who have actually implemented the initiatives. This chapter encourages the reader to think broadly about the possibilities for greening a city while staying grounded and concrete.

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  1. Understand how cities can have a disproportionately large environmental impact, either negatively or positively.
  2. Identify ways in which urban populations—particularly poor or disenfranchised populations—are disproportionately affected by climate change hazards.
  3. Understand the importance of leading by example with highly visible city projects targeting city property such as public buildings and service vehicles.
  4. Identify strategies for greening at different scales, whether focusing on buildings, blocks of districts.
  5. Identify strategies for greening city infrastructure, which occupies a considerable proportion of the total area of an urban center.
  6. Assess a variety of aspects of city operations and identify key strategies for approaching their greening.
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Created by

Island Press
Washington, DC
United States

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