“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.” - Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

Aquinas College




Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center- U.S. Department of Energy

The Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center was developed in 1991 in response to the Alternative Motor Fuels Act of 1988 and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. The site features a database with state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics.


The City of Berkeley has a wide variety of environmental and sustainability programs with high resident participation. These include sustainable development and green building programs, zero-waste programs, alternative transportation plans and a strong collection of businesses that are committed to environmental improvement. The city's website includes a particularly noteworthy database of businesses committed to sustainability.

Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy

Established in 1995, the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) is an ongoing project of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and managed by the North Carolina Solar Center. The organization’s mission is to accelerate the use of renewable energy sources and technologies in and through state and local government and community activities.

Hercules, California

Hercules made plans in 1998 to redevelop a Brownfield site, creating a new town center. A six-lane road was developed into four neighborhoods: the Historic Town Center, the Refugio Neighborhood, the Central Neighborhood, and the Transit Village. Each neighborhood is comprised of narrow streets with trees and distinctive architecture. The new urban development in Hercules faced numerous challenges, such as the requirement of new city zoning. However, the community of Hercules has taken a stand and is committed to sustainable community design into the future.


Oakland, California has extensive programs for sustainable development and green building. Their focus on public transportation and bicycle paths has resulted in 20% of residents riding the bus, subway or bike around town. The city is working toward the goals of using 50% renewable energy and obtaining 30% of resident food needs within a 100 mile radius. They also have a great recycling program that reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills every year.

Renewable Portfolio Standards

Renewable Portfolio Standards are adopted by individual states to assure a specified percentage of electricity demand is supplied from renewable energy sources. The requirement increases each year, but cannot include waste-to-energy facilities (incinerators) or high-head hydropower sources. The rules vary within each state, but the overall goal is the same: increase the use of renewable energy. In 2002, California’s Governor Gray Davis signed the bill to require a 20% standard by 2017.

San Francisco

San Francisco’s sustainability programs include green building construction, urban forest management, successful alternative transportation systems, and many other successful initiatives.

Santa Barbara- Sustainable City Program

The City Administrator’s Office in Santa Barbara formed a Green Team in the summer of 2005 to tackle sustainability as it relates to their city. The Team consists of City managers and supervisors in environmental positions and/or hold a strong sustainable value system. As a part of Santa Barbara's Sustainable City Program (SCP), the team completed an inventory of current environmental, social, and financial practices to better assess areas needing attention. The First Annual Report contains this inventory and other action steps to "serve as a foundation to develop and implement a SCP that integrates specific goals and objectives in our City government’s operations and daily activities."

Santa Monica- Sustainable City Plan

The City of Santa Monica has a relatively advanced sustainability program and therefore, is a good source of information on the subject. The Sustainable City Program was started in September 1994 by developing indicators to track progress toward sustainability goals. These indicators were re-evaluated and subsequently changed in 2001 by a collaborative working group of elected and appointed officials, City staff, and representatives of neighborhood organizations, schools, and the business community. The name of the initiative was changed to Sustainable City Plan to "reflect the long-term comprehensive nature of Santa Monica’s vision and the community’s efforts to become a sustainable city." The following represents a few successes in Santa Monica:

Santa Rosa

The Environmental Committee in Santa Rosa, California has programs set up for water conservation, community transportation, storm water mitigation, roadside tree planting and the use of low or zero emission vehicles in the city fleet. They also have a great program for the promotion of green building practices.

The Center for Ecoliteracy (CEL)

Founded by author and physicist Fritjof Capra, "the Center for Ecoliteracy is dedicated to education for sustainable living." The CEL helps educational organizations and school communities in the San Francisco Bay area receive grants for environmental opportunities in learning. They also provide resources for the development of sustainable education.

Funded by the Steelcase Foundation of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Header photo by Carol Y. Swinehart, courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant Extension
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