Students put their education to work with sustainable city planning and policy

SOS/PAF 545: Organizations, Sustainability & Public Policy presentationFrom low-carbon systems and LEED-certified building construction to water and land conservation techniques, there are many ways to promote and practice sustainability within the community. While it can be easier said than done to implement these things, one Arizona State University class did just that through Project Cities. Led by Nicole Darnall, associate dean and professor of public policy and management in Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, students in SOS/PAF 545: Organizations, Sustainability & Public Policy are working to create a more sustainable future in the Valley. The class worked with the City of Glendale on upcoming projects involving the construction of new municipal facilities and renovation of existing ones to implement sustainable design practices and policies. The class was divided into four teams, each creating a professional report on the various strategies the city was focusing on to provide guidance for incorporating sustainability into its new Facilities Master Plan. These strategies ranged from sustainable landscaping and increased energy efficiency to health and well-being standards and waste prevention strategies, totaling nine potential topics the city was interested in pursuing. The students narrowed down the list under Darnall’s guidance to four final topics for further study: green buildings, sustainable energy, sustainable purchasing and sustainable landscaping. During the fall 2018 semester, the class took a field trip to the City of Glendale to meet with the city staff and visualize their proposals. Communication between the staff and the class was crucial for ensuring all needs were being met on both ends with the students’ research. The students conducted literature reviews, identified relevant case studies, interviewed topic experts, and conducted a cost-benefit analysis of their various proposals. The project drafts were submitted to the city officials for review in November 2018, providing the students an opportunity to revise based on relevant feedback. While the City of Glendale had many topics it was working to address, the class of seven students provided final proposals for four: sustainable landscaping, green building standards, sustainable purchasing, and renewable energy and energy efficiency. Each of the subtopics covered highlights the correlation between sustainable planning and lower maintenance costs to better appeal to the city. Given the complexity of the proposals, they were categorized into short-term and long-term plans for future development. Through this course, Project Cities provided students a firsthand experience to apply their education in sustainability and policy in a professional environment to better help the City of Glendale develop a fresh perspective for addressing their municipal sustainability goals. Project Cities is a program of the ASU Sustainable Cities Network. Project Cities is also member of the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network, and is administered by ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.