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ChiefJoJo

Charlotte & sustainability

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I am sure there is always a high dose of skepticism with these things, but it's at least worth a look. I was amazed to see Atlanta that high on the list, but most others look about right to me. Charlotte ranked among the top 20 in planning/land use, green buildings, and affordable housing, which all seem reasonable. If it were me, I would place a much higher weight on the sprawl index and look at transit ridership on a percapita basis, which it seems they do not attempt here. Some criteria are subjective and others are 100% data-driven (AQ, green buildings). Like walkscore, it isn't perfect, but it's in the ballpark. Portland is #1 FWIW.

http://www.sustainlane.com/us-city-rankings/cities/charlotte

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I like that they break down each category individually, although I do think some of the categories are a bit questionable. One that really bothers me is the measure of how many LEED registered projects there are - the least they could do is also include other standards, like Energy Star rated buildings, etc. Judging a city's green success by how many LEED registrations they have is like judging their financial success on the number of skyscrapers. (I say this as a LEED AP.)

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Thanks for posting that...I'm really depressed now after reading about Portland initiatives.

Bike Commuting

"Depaving"

Also, I wanted to quote this claim made by somone in Seattle in regards to their hopes to remove an expressway through downtown.

Interestingly, studies show that traffic doesn’t simply shift elsewhere after a highway tear-down; up to 50 percent of it simply disappears, Moon says.

“That’s what’s great about highway tear-downs. People just readjust their travel plans and decide to drive less.”

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Highway tear-downs are a hard argument to make, but they have succeeded in the US. Milwaukee did it along their lake shore. Even Chattanooga shrank Riverfront Pkwy from four to two lanes and opened up a ton of space that is now occupied by parkland and sidewalks. The Plan of Nashville calls for the tear-down of the Interstate "noose" around their downtown - a noose that is even more detrimental than 277 IMO. The book also has some great diagrams of how the Interstate would be converted into boulevards, freeing up a tremendous amount of valuable land. (I wish I could find them online)

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Thanks for posting that...I'm really depressed now after reading about Portland initiatives.

Bike Commuting

"Depaving"

Also, I wanted to quote this claim made by somone in Seattle in regards to their hopes to remove an expressway through downtown.

Charlotte certainly doesn't have this mentatility. It's widen the roads so more people can drive further.

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Perhaps it's unfair to compare Charlotte to Portland. I do it often. But outside of population size we are completely different culturally. Maybe it's better to line us up against cities like Indianapolis. Places that have a more conservative business oriented tinge but are also trying to change the paradigm and be more sustainable. My parents went on a business trip to Indy for the first time last year. They were expecting a lifeless town with all sprawl and no character. Instead they were pleasantly surprised by the city's growing and thriving walkable urban center that had a mix of resi/retail and pocket parks. Maybe we can learn from them.

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Well, I suppose that another bright side is that we aren't in the "sustainability in danger" category in any of the qualifiers. And in the future, we should rank higher when it comes to transit ridership. Demolishing 277 also wouldn't be a bad idea (something I've long advocated).

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One area in which I think Charlotte has a lot of potential and may be building momentum is in the use of green roofs. The Discovery Place roof finished its conversion a few months ago, the Federal Reserve is supposed to be getting a green roof (I don't know what its status is), and the lower portion of the Wachovia Corporate Center will have a huge green courtyard. My hope is that these examples will get other developers, etc at least asking questions - a green roof has tremendous benefits for buildings and the environment.

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