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On behalf of the APWA Center for Sustainability (C4S), I am thrilled to launch our monthly blog. This is just another way that we are reaching out to the APWA Membership to share resources and best practices as we strive towards our mission to build the skills, knowledge, and tools for APWA members to exercise sustainable leadership in their communities.


Each month we will focus on a specific theme and will provide thoughts and links to resources related to that topic. If there is a topic you want to make sure is covered, please contact Anne Jackson at


As many of you know, May is the Sustainability issue of the APWA Reporter. It also happens to be the month of Public Works Week- coincidence? I think not! More and more of our members are recognizing that sustainability must be an integral part of the daily operations of Public Works Professionals. Whether it's keeping our team members safe on the job, ensuring our budgets can support the day-to-day while still maintaining an emergency fund, or striving to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and minimize our impact on a changing climate, sustainability principles can be a useful tool to guide public works operations.


There are some great articles in this month’s Reporter that will help you think about integrating sustainability into your operations whether through leadership (see Leadership by Discipline: Sustainability, page 38) or through planning (see Sustainability Plans in public works agencies, page 66).


C4S has identified climate change as the theme for May. Understanding and preparing for a changing climate is an imperative for public works agencies and for sustainable communities. They say knowledge is power and while we cannot predict exactly where and when the next extreme weather event will occur, science has shown us that more greenhouse gas emissions equal more unstable climate conditions. So there are two things we can (and should) do:

  1. Reduce the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to a changing climate through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and alternative fuels
  2. Learn about and prepare for the anticipated changes in your region

You do not have to be a climatologist to take these steps. You can use tools like or These National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tools provide information on climate science and impacts and solutions in terms everyone can understand. You can find more resources like this in the C4S Sustainability Toolkit at


This is not an issue that we can wait any longer to take action on. Every day a public works professional somewhere is faced with an extreme event that they were not prepared for and the consequences of that can be significant. Let’s make sure that every public works agency is informed and prepared from here on out.


Kim Lundgren

Chair, APWA Center for Sustainability (C4S)




Given that this is National Public Works Week and National Bike to Work Week and in sticking with our May theme of climate change, I thought it would be worth taking a minute to emphasize the important role that Public Works plays in making biking to work possible and what kind of greenhouse gas reduction benefit we might actually get if more people did it.


Potential GHG Reductions

For many cities in North America, the transportation sector is often the largest emitter of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the toughest area to address. Any actions to get people out of single occupancy vehicles is a step in the right direction when it comes to reducing GHG emissions.


In November 2015, the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy and the University of California, Davis released the findings from a study that sought to determine the potential for and the benefit of increasing bicycle use in cities around the world. While the specific benefits to any individual city will vary, their findings suggest that if we used bikes instead of cars for 10% of our trips, globally GHG emissions from vehicles would drop by about 11% and a savings of $24 trillion on infrastructure costs would be realized.[1] You can access the full report here:


Role of Public Works

From the road conditions, to signage, shared lane markings, and lighting, public works has its hands all over every mile of your ride. Like everything, these road improvements come at a cost, but it is important to consider the benefits. In addition to reducing GHG emissions, biking supports a healthy lifestyle, and reduces traffic congestion and associated impacts to air quality.

If you are not sure how to balance the costs and benefits, you can use this tool to estimate costs, the demand in terms of new cyclists, and measured economic benefits: See the full report behind all this data at


Bike Friendly Cities

In August, PWX will be held in Minneapolis, one of the top biking cities in the country. I have always been impressed that a city in such a cold climate continues to grow its number of urban cyclists. The City insures this by continuing to commit budget to constant improvements and additions to their bike facilities. Interested in checking out what Minneapolis has to offer? Sign up for the PWX Wednesday Workshop tour of their bike facilities. You can also learn more about what Minneapolis is doing at the links below.

From bike share programs to rails to trails, cities across the continent are shifting away from viewing cars as the only means of transportation. A multimodal approach is more sustainable and is frankly what more and more people want these days. People want options. Join the C4S APWA Connect Community at (click on InfoNow and click on C4S) or reference @APWAC4S in your tweet to tell us what your community is doing to celebrate Bike to Work Week!


Kim Lundgren

Chair, APWA Center for Sustainability (C4S)




APWA’s Center for Sustainability (C4S) was highlighted recently in an industry report regarding climate change educational programs and services offered by leading professional societies. The report Professional Societies and Climate Change from The Kresge Foundation, analyzes 41 professional societies’ programs that include integration of climate change impacts. The  report aimed to identify tools, information and best practices for training professionals working in urban areas to create more resilient communities.

The Kresge Foundation, using a matrix, identified and categorized each association’s relevant programs or services according to the themes of climate change adaptation, climate change mitigation and social justice. Many of these resources were seen as directly applicable to the ability of professionals working in urban areas, who deal with climate impacts that result in more intense and frequent natural disasters in local communities, to do their jobs.

Some organizations, including APWA, have been working on sustainability for more than a decade and have seen initial interest in climate change adaptation and resilience lead to more interest in mitigation, according to the report.  “In [the] early days everyone said public works was a hurdle to getting stuff done on mitigation, but resilience has been a great opportunity… a better way for public works to embrace the climate issue,” said C4S Chair, Kim Lundgren, CEO of Kim Lundgren Associates in Woburn, MA.

In the report section, Disaster Preparedness/Resilience is Another Common Frame, some organizations mention disasters and resilience as a mechanism to discuss climate change with their membership, which is true for the professional organizations impacted by natural disasters (NEMA, NHMA, AIA, APA, APWA).

Anne Jackson

APWA Director of Sustainability


Community resilience in the face of climate change has been on my mind even more than usual as I just returned from the National Adaptation Forum in Minneapolis.

So it was a treat to talk with Troy Moon, Portland, Maine’s Sustainability Coordinator recently for my SAS Talk with Kim podcast series. Both Troy and Portland have been leaders in community sustainability and climate solutions for well over a decade. Troy played a large role in laying the foundation for the city’s climate mitigation and sustainability work during the seven years he worked in the Department of Public Works as the Solid Waste Manager before moving to his new role in the City Manager’s Office. The City completed its greenhouse gas inventory back in 2001 and since then has notched several climate mitigation achievements – a big energy efficiency push in buildings, electric vehicles, LED street lights and an upcoming solar installation on a landfill.

But, as Troy noted, they are just getting into the adaptation game (this report from a 2015 conference gives an overview of their resilience timeline). Portland isn’t wasting any time making a name for itself in climate resilience/adaptation circles. Their first major initiative is called “Bayside Adapts” (this local news story from the community forum launch in late 2016 has a nice overview, as does this conference presentation from March 2017). Here’s an excerpt from the Portland Phoenix article:

“In response to the increasing anxiety that bigger storms, king tides and nuisance flooding bring to the area, the city of Portland has launched a new initiative that aims to discuss and eventually exercise strategies to make the Bayside Neighborhood more resilient to climate change.  It’s called “Bayside Adapts,” and it aims to bring scientists, engineers, sustainability experts, city officials and community members together, to explore ways that the neighborhood can face, what many consider to be, a very urgent issue.”

Bayside is a neighborhood in Portland that is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise -- it’s the lowest point in the city -- and challenges with stormwater management. It’s also an area in transition, which happens to be an opportune moment to have a conversation about the future of the area in the face of climate threats.  

One of the remarkable things about Portland’s “Bayside Adapts” endeavor that Troy noted was that it’s the first time the City is putting its own resources -- to the tune of $100,000 for an engineering study they are calling a “data gap analysis” and community outreach -- into climate resilience.  The City was also one of the ten pilot cities in the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Leadership in Community Resilience Program that has meant $10,000 in direct support and additional technical support. The other cities are: Annapolis, Maryland; Des Moines, Iowa; Providence, Rhode Island; Riverside, California; San Antonio; Saint Paul, Minnesota; South Bend, Indiana; Tempe; and West Palm Beach, Florida.

Part of the NLC money funded the a design competition (this online brochure has all the details) seeking innovative approaches to making Bayside a resilient neighborhood. Five Portland-based firms competed, and you can see each of their detailed submissions here. The City had announced the winner – Aceto Landscape Architects – the day before I chatted with Troy, so he discussed some of the features that stood out to the judges: a focus on recreating natural systems (like using an old mill pond as a water feature -- their entry was titled “Back to the Mill: Unearthing Portland’s Emerald Necklace”), increasing open spaces, utilizing natural interventions and incorporating infrastructure that can live with water.

Troy told me that two keys to Portland’s success thus far have been community support and collaboration between departments -- a theme we keep hearing more about. Bayside Adapts has brought together Planning, Public Works, Sustainability (which is in the City Manager’s office) and Economic Development. Troy has no additional staff in his department so he certainly can’t do it alone. He has worked closely with the Waterfront Coordinator in Economic Development and the Planning Director.

There are plenty of impressive -- and replicable -- parts of Portland’s climate resilience story, so I encourage you to take a listen to Troy’s SAS Talk with Kim podcast.

The C4S Sustainability Toolkit has dozens of climate resilience resources, including: the recent Resilience Plan released by Pittsburgh, PA (OnePGH); the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Climate Resilience Toolkit; and the Federal Highway Administration’s Climate Change Adaptation Guide for Transportation Systems. To find these resources, go to the C4S Sustainability Toolkit and simply select “Climate Change Resilience” under the “All Topics” dropdown menu.

Kim Lundgren

Chair, APWA Center for Sustainability (C4S)


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