small text medium text large text

Sustainable Development

See also: Sustainable Agriculture

Resources dealing with population growth, urban sprawl and smart growth, development, reclamation projects and greenways.

Selected Books

Bruegmann, Robert
Sprawl: A Compact History
HT371.B74 2005
"After 70 years of suffering the slings and arrows of academic criticism, suburban life finally finds a compelling defender in Bruegmann. A professor of art history and urban planning at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Bruegmann demonstrates that urban sprawl is a natural process as old as the world's oldest cities, wherein large metropolises reach a point of maturity and those with financial means escape the congestion and high prices of city life." -- Publishers Weekly
Duany, Andres, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Jeff Speck
Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream
HT384.U5 D83 2000
This is a manifesto by America's most controversial and celebrated town planners (founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism), proposing a return to more traditional planning principles emphasizing neighborhoods in which homes, schools, commercial and municipal buildings are integrated into pedestrian-accessible, safe and friendly settings. They feel that the suburbs have led to isolation for mothers, children and the elderly and have created long commutes for the middle class.
Flint, Anthony
Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City
HT168.N5 F55 2009
Former Boston Globe reporter Flint recounts how activist and writer Jane Jacobs was able to stop the seemingly unstoppable master builder Robert Moses with her book against urban renewal projects that destroyed existing neighborhoods.
Growing Greener Cities: Urban Sustainability in the Twenty-first Century
HT241.G76 2008
In Growing Greener Cities, a collection of essays on urban sustainability and environmental issues edited by Eugenie L. Birch and Susan M. Wachter, scholars and practitioners alike promote activities that recognize and conserve nature's ability to sustain urban life. The book provides an overview of the urban green movement, case studies in effective policy implementation, and tools for measuring and managing success.
Jacobs, Jane
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
HT167.J33 1993
Jane Jacobs, an editor and writer on architecture in New York City in the early sixties, argued that urban diversity and vitality were being destroyed by powerful architects and city planners. Rigorous, sane, and delightfully epigrammatic, Jacobs's small masterpiece is a blueprint for the humanistic management of cities.
Maczulak, Anne
Sustainability: Building Eco-Friendly Communities
HC79.E5 M324 2010
Part of an 8-volume set designed to complement science curricula and to present all sides of the debate, this volume examines the relationship between human activities and their sometimes harmful consequences for the environment.
Owen, David
Green Metropolis: What the City Can Teach the Country about True Sustainability
GF504.N7 O95 2009
In this challenge to conventional environmental thinking, David Owen argues that the greenest community in the United States is New York City because residents of compact urban centers individually consume less oil, electricity, and water than do Americans in less densely populated areas.
Reader, John
HT111.R42 2005
Reader, a British anthropologist, discusses the importance of the city in human civilization, its dependence on the surrounding country and how they might grow sustainably in the future, now that more than half of the world's population lives in them.
Rykwert, Joseph
Seduction of Place: The City in the Twenty-First Century and Beyond
HT151.R93 2000
A distinguised architectural historian takes on the question of whether or not we have the cities we need and what we can do to create them. To understand why people love or hate their cities and why cities succeed or fail their inhabitants, Joseph Rykwert examines a broad spectrum of urban centers.
Schendler, Auden
Getting Green Done: Hard Truths from the Front Lines of the Sustainability Revolution
GE195.7.S343 2009x
Schendler feels that individual green habits will not solve the sustainability problem but that it must be addressed by big businesses and through legislation.
Seyfang, Gill; Elliott, David (Editor)
The New Economics of Sustainable Consumption: Seeds of Change
HC79.C6 S49 2009
The authors present a "New Economics" approach based on alternative measures of wealth and value, examining how these are put into practice through local organic food systems, low-impact eco-housing, and complementary currencies.


Going to Green
This 5-disc set by the Media & Policy Center Foundation deals with the restoration of America's urban landscape through the creation of sustainable neighborhood ecosystems. Each chapter is devoted to a specific subject and is accompanied by a lesson with service learning extension activities.

Pittsburgh Region

    CommuteInfo is a program of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission that provides a FREE regional ridesharing match service for motorists interested in alternatives to driving alone to their workplace.
  • The Green Building Alliance
    Works to foster "green" building in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area
  • Sustainable Pittsburgh
    Sustainable Pittsburgh, a non-partisan, civic forum, advocates the integration of economic growth, environmental health, and social equity as the foundation for high quality of life and long-term prosperity of southwestern Pennsylvania.
    • Champions for Sustainability (C4S)
      C4S aspires to be the nationís most effective region-based collaboration of leaders accelerating the practice and policy of sustainability in business and civic circles. Check their "spotlight" for recent news.
  • Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County
    The Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County is a community-based private non-profit located at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg whose mission is to work with the county's cities, townships and boroughs to address the challenges associated with economic growth and revitalization.


  • 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania
    An alliance of organizations and individuals committed to promoting land use policies and actions that will enable Pennsylvania to strengthen its diverse urban, suburban, and rural communities and reduce sprawl. Currently it encompasses over 310 organizations representing over 300,000 Pennsylvanians.

United States

  • American Farmland Trust
    AFT works to stop the loss of productive farmland and to promote farming practices that lead to a healthy environment.
    An experimental city in the high desert of Arizona. When complete, Arcosanti will house 7000 people, demonstrating ways to improve urban conditions and lessen our destructive impact on the earth. Its compact super-structures and large-scale solar greenhouses will occupy only 25 acres of a 4060 acre land preserve, keeping the natural countryside in close proximity to urban dwellers.
  • Complete Streets
    The National Complete Streets Coalition advocates for "complete streets" with broad sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and landscaping as opposed to speeding cars and traffic jams. Streets that are made for people of all ages.
  • Environmental Design & Construction
    A magazine for architects, interior designers, building contractors, spec writers, engineers, etc that covers all aspects of environmentally sound building design & construction including recycled building products, energy efficiency, alternative energy sources, indoor air quality, systems of waste disposal and re-use, and more. It includes a buyers guide listing companies throughout the US.
  • Green Report Card
    Created by the nonprofit Sustainable Endowments Institute, a project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the Green Report Card ranks 300 colleges in terms of their sustainability. Unfortunately in 2010 CMU got a B grade, Pitt a C and Duquesne a D-. Other local schools were not rated.
  • National Center for Appropriate Technology
    Helping people by championing small-scale, local, and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities, and protect natural resources.
  • Smart Growth America
    Smart Growth America is a nationwide coalition of more than 100 partner organizations that promotes a better way to grow: one that protects farmland and open space, revitalizes neighborhoods, keeps housing affordable, and provides more transportation choices. Provides access to research and publications.
  • Sustainable Sites Initiative
    The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an interdisciplinary partnership between the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the United States Botanic Garden and others to develop guidelines and standards for landscape sustainability. Well-designed landscapes promote biodiversity with a mix of native species and ecologically appropriate non-native species.
  • A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments
    A quarterly online journal searching for the integration of the built and natural environments through high quality literary, journalistic, and artistic works. It includes a column on "Unsprawl" highlighting a community.
  • Transportation for America
    An organization pushing to change the national transportation policy from building a lot of interstates for gas guzzling cars to one that advocates high-speed rail and world-class public transportation.
  • Urban Land Institute
    A national research and policy organization that focuses on wise use of urban space and explores such topics as brownfields, affordable housing, urban parks, and revitalization of cities.
  • US Green Building Council
    The U.S. Green Building Council is the nationís foremost coalition of leaders from across the building industry working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. They developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDô) Green Building Rating System, a national consensus-based, market-driven building rating system designed to accelerate the development and implementation of green building practices.


  • Carbusters: Journal of the Carfree Movement
    Carbusters Magazine is published by the World Carfree Network in Prague, Czech Republic. It is a 32-page print magazine critiquing our societyís car culture and exploring positive alternatives.
  • Population Action International
    An organization, headquartered in Washington DC, that performs population policy research. Website includes reports on progress towards world population stabilization.
  • United Nations Development Programme
    "Through a unique network of 134 country offices, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) helps people in 174 countries and territories to help themselves, focusing on poverty elimination, environmental regeneration, job creation and the advancement of women."
    • Human Development Reports
      Consumption has increased in the 20th Century but it has left out many people and it has been hard on the environment, especially in the poorer countries.
  • UN-Habitat
    The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT, is the United Nations agency for human settlements. It is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.
  • United Nations Population Fund: State of World Population
    This annual report looks at the world's growing population, its effect on the environment, and the outlook for the future.
  • World Bank Topics in Development
    Education, Health, Nutrition, Population issues throughout the world. Includes articles and links to other organizations.
  • World Resources Institute
    "an independent center for policy research and technical assistance on global environmental and development issues."
    A blog-type website reporting on sustainability news, with emphasis on positive developments.
  • Worldwatch Institute
    Each January, the Worldwatch Institute publishes a 200+ page "State of the World" report on progress toward a sustainable society. Older volumes are available for free download in .pdf format. And they cover interesting topics in sustainability like toilet paper.
  • ZERI: Zero Emissions Research Institute
    Works to create a new paradign of sustainable industry by targeting zero gaseous, liquid and solid emissions and using them as resources.