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  • From coast to coast, American cities are shaping a sustainable future

    From writer Rachel Signer and our friends at Collectively:

    When it comes to climate change, we usually look to world leaders and national governments to take responsibility for building a more sustainable future. But with the formation of organizations like Cities Climate Leadership Group, or C40, a global network of city mayors focused on sustainability, city governments are taking increased responsibility to find ways to tackle the same urban and environmental issues on local levels. 

    Of course, citywide sustainability projects often rely heavily on citizen participation, and they are often both initiated and spearheaded by passionate activists. Regardless, green policy initiatives are taking off in cities across the U.S. Here at Collectively, we're excited about these promising stories of greening cities.

    Philadelphia's "Green City, Clean Waters" initiative is dealing with excessive storm water runoff by encouraging rain gardens and green roofs. They're also lining the streets with absorbent trees and bushes to help water soak into the soil. All of which also gives the city more lush beauty and shade while reducing carbon dioxide. Aside from beautifying the city, this kind of green infrastructure offers the double-punch practical benefit of less flooding and cleaner public water systems.

    Chicago launched its bike-share program in 2013, and is planning to expand in spring 2015-at which point it will have the nation's largest bike-share program, with a total of 475 stations. The city is also aiming to create 100 miles of protected bike lanes in the near future.

    L.A. County offers a program called Telework to its government employees, which allows them to save money on gas and reduce pollution by opting to work at home one day per week. The reported results in 2012 include improved productivity by about ten percent per employee on average, as people were less distracted, less stressed, and able to work at their peak times. This initiative also reduced sick leave due to more flexible scheduling and commuting to doctors' appointments. Today, roughly 5,000 L.A. County employees of all ranks were taking advantage of Telework.

    New York City was named by Bicycling Magazine as the number-one U.S. city for bicycling in 2014, thanks to more than 350 miles of new bike lanes added over the last few years, resulting in the city's number of bike commuters doubling between 2007 and 2011, as well as the CitiBike program, which boasts 96,000 members.

    Over the last few years, Seattle has been pioneering a nation-wide move in urban areas toward "benchmarking," a program that helps building owners achieve lower levels of energy by measuring and rating a building's energy performance, and making that information publicly available. Benchmarking aims to help building owners identify ways to increase building energy efficiency and lower energy costs.

    This article originally appeared at Collectively, our new content partner. Thanks Collectively!

    Photo credit: Philippe Boivin / Flickr

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    Snow Maze

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    From Sweden's ICEHOTEL designers

    Leave it to the Swedish design team behind ICEHOTEL to conjure up the idea of packing snow and sculpting ice for a week to carve a playground from the frozen tundra. The icy park includes two slides, a snow lantern, four egg-shaped chairs, ice benches, and an elaborate maze that is now being enjoyed by the lucky children (and adult-children) of Sweden. “The inspiration and key......read more

    Fresh Water Swimming Pool for London Cleansed by Plants, Not Chemicals

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    From Rotterdam Studio, Ooze Architects, and Artist Marietta Potrc

    Londoners will have a freshwater, natural pool at their disposal in King's Cross beginning in May. Designed by Rotterdam Studio, Ooze architects and artist Marietica Potrc the chemical-free outdoor pool is the first of its kind in the UK.  The King’s Cross Swimming Pool is a manmade, freshwater pond kept clean and filtered through natural processes. At forty meters long, the pool will......read more

    100 Views of Tokyo

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    Paintings by Richard Heisler

    We've noticed a trend in paintings that are so photo-realistic as to fool the viewer. We think this amazing series by Richard Heisler definitely falls under this category of "WTF, these are painings?" In his ongoing series of paintings that focuses on the cityscape of Tokyo—its place, its history, its architecture as it exists now—and also pays homage to the artists that have......read more

    Wake Up Call From Baltimore

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    We Can No Longer Ignore Our Inner Cities

    They’ve been talking about the riots in Baltimore for a long, long time. The last big riots, that is. I moved to Baltimore, my wife’s hometown, from Colorado in the mid-aughts, and lucked into a job as a writer for a local magazine. Every city in America was fighting to be the “greenest” at the time, and while I knew next to nothing about cities, and nothing......read more

    PolaWalk Vienna

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    Photo Tour of Vienna Using a Polaroid Camera

    PolaWalk is a unique walking tour that's all about exploring the creative parts of a city using a vintage Polaroid camera. In the PolaWwalk Vienna - Urban tour, guests are taken to spots off the beaten path where they can snap off a different side of the burgeoning city. Instead of visiting major sights like The Ring Road (or Ringstraße) or Schönbrunn Palace, PolaWalk aims to give......read more

    On Tuesday, March 24, an overturned fish truck turned Seattle into a parking lot, giving residents of this traffic-clogged city yet another reminder of the pitfalls of a transportation system built almost entirely around automobiles. The truck was headed south on State Route 99 carrying a load of frozen cod when it tipped, blocking all southbound lanes of one of just two main north-south......read more

    NYC Rooftop Photos

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    From Navid Baraty

    Photographer Navid Baraty is back again and this time, he has captured a rooftop image that looks like it was taken straight out of the movie Inception. From atop the 1095 Avenue of Americas skyscraper, Baraty was able to photograph an aerial view of 42nd street in all its glory. Looking down from a height of 630 feet, you can see each floor below. The taxis and other vehicles......read more

    An inflatable flower installation grows in Jerusalem's Vallero Square by HQ architects. They are calling it Warde. The flowers fill with air when pedestrians pass by and deflates when they walk away. All four flowers also open when the tram arrives to provide cover for the pedestrians as they step off the tram. The nine by nine meter installation was part of an effort by the......read more

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