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The GreenStep 29 best practices

  • Make planning and tracking easier: download this spreadsheet that lists all unique actions – approximately 175 – for all 29 best practices.
  • Cities that implement a minimum number of best practices organized into these five topical areas will be recognized as Step Two and Step Three GreenStep Cities. See What are Step Two and Three Recognition Minimums?
  • Cities should claim credit for best practices already implemented. Adding best practices over time will garner additional recognition.
  • For each best practice, and depending on city category (A, B or C), a city needs to complete one or more actions from a list associated with the best practice. See What category is my city in?

Buildings and Lighting

Buildings and Lighting 1. Efficient Existing Public Buildings: Benchmark energy and water usage, identify savings opportunities in consultation with state programs, utilities and others to implement cost-effective energy and sustainability improvements.

2. Efficient Existing Private Buildings: Provide incentives for energy, water and sustainability improvements in existing buildings/building sites.

3. New Green Buildings: Construct new buildings to meet or qualify under a green building framework.

4. Efficient Outdoor Lighting and Signals: Improve the efficiency and quality of street lighting, traffic signals and outdoor public lighting.

5. Building Redevelopment: Create economic and regulatory incentives for redevelopment and repurposing of existing buildings.

Land Use

Land Use 6. Comprehensive, Climate and Energy Plans: Build public support and legal validity to long-term infrastructural and regulatory strategy.

7. Resilient City Growth: Increase financial and environmental sustainability by enabling and encouraging walkable housing and retail land use.

8. Mixed Uses: Develop efficient land patterns that generate community health and wealth.

9. Efficient Highway- and Auto-Oriented Development: Adopt commercial development and design standards for auto-oriented development corridors and clusters.

10. Design for Natural Resource Conservation: Adopt development ordinances or processes that protect natural systems and valued community assets.


Transportation 11. Living Streets: Create a network of green complete streets that improves city quality of life and adds value to surrounding properties.

12. Mobility Options: Increase active transportation and alternatives to single-occupancy car travel.

13. Efficient City Fleets: Implement a city fleet investment, operations and maintenance plan.

14. Demand-Side Travel Planning: Implement Travel Demand Management and Transit-Oriented Design in service of a more walkable city.

Environmental Management

Environmental Management 15. Sustainable Purchasing: Adopt environmentally preferable purchasing policies and practices to improve health and environmental outcomes.

16. Urban Forests and Soils: Add city tree and plant cover that conserves topsoils and increases community health, wealth, quality of life.

17. Stormwater Management: Minimize the volume of and pollutants in rainwater runoff by maximizing green infrastructure.

18. Parks and Trails: Increase active lifestyles and property values by enhancing the city's green infrastructure.

19. Surface Water: Improve local water bodies to sustain their long-term ecological function and community benefits.

20. Efficient Water and Wastewater Systems: Assess and improve city drinking water and wastewater systems and related facilities.

21. Septic Systems: Implement an environmentally sound management program for decentralized wastewater treatment systems.

22. Sustainable Consumption and Waste: Increase waste prevention, reuse and recycling, moving to a lower-consumption, more cyclical, biological approach to materials management.

23. Local Air Quality: Prevent generation of local air contaminants so as to improve community health.

Resilient Economic & Community Development

Resilient Economic & Community Development 24. Benchmarks and Community Engagement: Adopt outcome measures for GreenStep and other city sustainability efforts, and engage community members in ongoing education, dialogue, and campaigns.

25. Green Business Development: Expand a greener, more resilient business sector.

26. Renewable Energy: Remove barriers to and encourage installation of renewable energy generation capacity.

27. Local Food: Strengthen local food and fiber production and access.

28. Business Synergies and EcoDistricts: Network/cluster businesses and design neighborhoods to achieve better energy, social, economic and environmental outcomes.

29. Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience: Plan and prepare for extreme weather, adapt to changing climatic conditions, and foster stronger community connectedness and social and economic vitality.