Sustainability Program helps to move cities from ambiguity to action

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Sustainability. Cities are talking about it, many are doing it, public is demanding it, businesses are embracing it, even the federal government is taking steps to support and incorporate it into and across their agencies. And while “it” has been rising in popularity (few would argue that they’d prefer to live in or lead an unsustainable city), the challenges of defining and implementing sustainability are not far from the surface.

For cities, “going green” is more than just a feel-good declaration. It’s a commitment, in part, to tangible actions. And it is often here – somewhere between supporting “it” and implementing “it” that pockets of ambiguity tend to emerge. Sustainability goals, strategies, initiatives, and plans – while often linked by common objectives (achieving a balance of environmental, economic, and social needs) – are typically made on a city-by-city basis and may vary widely depending on contextual factors or needs within a community.

To help local leaders and city staff get started with, strengthen, and advance sustainability efforts NLC created the Sustainability Program, housed within the Center for Research and Innovation. In partnership with The Home Depot Foundation’s Sustainable Cities Institute, NLC’s Sustainability Program has recently released the first in a series of resources to support, inspire, and catalyze sustainability efforts at the local level. “Sustainability: 10 Steps Forward” presents a sampling of actions across ten issue areas that cities may adopt (and adapt) regardless of where they are in planning or implementing their sustainability efforts.

In addition to this resource the Sustainability Program sends out regular e-updates containing timely and relevant information for cities such as funding opportunities, events, announcements, and resources. To subscribe to these e-updates please send an email to with the following: name, title, city, email, and mailing address.  Current information is always available on the NLC website by clicking on ‘Sustainability’ in the red ‘Topics’ box at