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FutureStructure Transportation Innovated Intelligent Transportation Building Better

A Different Thinking Differently, Optimizing Transforming the

Approach Thinking Better Our Systems Built Environment

a Publication from the governing institute
and The center for digital government

What is Soft

What we
a supplement to Governing



n light of decreasing gas tax revenues CH2M HILL to develop a program that concept to a working pilot system. The
— the result (in part) of increasing explored charging drivers based on the overall program included policy develop-
vehicle fuel economy — finding a way actual miles they drove, with a refund of ment, governance, technology research,
to generate sustainable revenues that will state fuel taxes paid. systems engineering, and public outreach.
maintain and operate the transportation In the process, Oregon legislators and
system is a topic of great interest to nearly Officials wanted to gauge the feasibility of transportation officials learned the keys
every transportation agency. using advanced, non-invasive technology to gaining public acceptance by providing
to accurately report miles driven by those road users with:
At a time when public agencies are vehicles, while protecting users’ privacy. • Data privacy
looking for fuel tax alternatives that will They needed to understand the key to • Flexibility, with choice of several
generate sustainable revenue, CH2M HILL public acceptance for such a program, payment methodologies and tech-
brings deep expertise in transportation and whether related implementation, nology options
policy, legislation, advanced technology operations, monitoring, and maintenance • Technology that is reliable, adaptable,
systems, and public information strate- could be cost effective. easy to use, and open source
gies to deftly guide those agencies. • Easy and cost-effective program
Addressing privacy, ease of use, administration and compliance
Helping public agencies and implementation concerns
Sponsored Content

think outside the box Working with ODOT, the CH2M HILL In the end, the pilot system demonstrated
When the Oregon Department of Trans- team designed and implemented the that a road usage charging program can be
portation (ODOT) decided to examine program from the ground up — preparing a viable, practical, sustainable, and equi-
alternate funding approaches, it selected everything from a new road user charging table alternative for a state’s gasoline tax.

To learn more about these forward-thinking solutions, contact CH2M HILL’s Highways and
Bridges Director Susan Martinovich ( and CH2M HILL’s
Chief Technologist for Transportation Operations Dan Baxter (

How Ideas Drive
What We Build
contents 04

04 20
FutureStructure: Avoiding Bumps
A Different Approach in the Road:
to the Usual Problems Optimizing Our
10 10 23
Thinking Differently
About Transportation:
How Ideas Drive Building Better: 26
What We Build Connecting Our
Communities and
Creating Our Future
With a Better Built

FutureStructure is a joint
initiative from the Governing
Institute and Center for Digital
Government. FutureStructure
is a framework for thinking
through and solving challenges
faced in building economically,
environmentally and socially
robust communities. Learn
more in the pages of this
© 2013 e.Republic. All Rights Reserved special publication and at
1100 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 1300, Washington, D.C. 20036
916.932.1300 phone | 916.932.1470 fax

On the cover: The new East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay
Bridge, opened to traffic in 2013.

cover Image by Joe Ercoli - 3
4 futurestructure // How Ideas Drive What we Build
A Different
By John MiriApproach
to the Usual Problems
Human beings are not meant to be isolated. We’re terrible at it. Even the
basic blueprint of our lives, our DNA, is composed of a complex and interwoven tapestry
of individual strands. Left on their own, these building blocks would be lifeless, inert
and useless. But knit together in this powerful yet peculiar way, DNA base pairs somehow
quicken with the spark of something infinite and wonderful.
Shouldn’t our communities — our cities, states, provinces and countries — be the same? 5
A different approach to the usual problems

FutureStructure is the idea that the Soft

same pattern that defines us as individu-
als also connects us to each other in liv-
Everything starts with an idea. These
ideas turn into physical things — our roads, HARD
ing, breathing communities of people. our buildings and so on. If the idea is not right, the The physical things
Strictly speaking, FutureStructure is a physical manifestation of — our buildings,
framework for thinking through and solv- that idea will not be right. roads, water and
ing the challenges in building socially energy systems. Hard
and economically robust communities.
Soft infrastructure
can make an
it starts infrastructure can
The enthusiastic reception that greeted impact in Here. connect people and
our first special publication on Futur- be constructed in
unseen FutureStructure is a way to improve
eStructure, in which we introduced this built around three
ways. livability.
concept, likely stems from a reaction to basic tenets.
the over-specialization that has plagued

modern public policy and obscured
this foundational operating principle.
Don’t get us wrong: Specialization
is a good and healthy thing for public
sophisticated tools and
policy and for communities writ large.
systems make us smarter
It makes no sense for one person to do
and improve the way we build communities
each and every job. The very essence of a
and connect people. Technology is the
community is that it brings the different
accumulated know-how that evolves
together, whether that means different
the tools of the trade.
skills, different people or different infra-
structure components. But in our quest
to squeeze every last post-industrial-era
bead of sweat out of our already opti-
mized business processes, we’ve let our
focus become too narrow. We’re solving provide people with the opportunity each of these things form the DNA base
small, specific problems without a regard to lead better lives. The bottom line of pairs of our community. The art and sci-
for the coherent, expansive whole. FutureStructure is the bottom line for ence of FutureStructure is about thinking
The reason why this matters — and our communities: We need true, long- boldly and decisively about how to best
matters more than ever — is clear when term livability along with sustainable combine them. They are: soft infrastruc-
scanning the day’s news on our favorite community growth. We need more ture, hard infrastructure and technology
online media. Our fascination with the and better citizen engagement. We infrastructure (see graphic above).
unfolding drama in Egypt, for example,
as successive governments and perpetual
revolution appear to set in, goes beyond a In our quest to squeeze every last post-
simple concern for American interests or industrial-era bead of sweat out of our
foreign policy. As a nation, we are trans- already optimized business processes, we’ve
fixed when we hear stories of how Méde- let our focus become too narrow. We’re
cins Sans Frontières, a.k.a. Doctors with-
out Borders, was forced to evacuate from
solving small, specific problems without
a failed state like Somalia or when we read a regard for the coherent, expansive whole.
about how a banking crisis nearly destabi-
lized the civilian government in Iceland. need infrastructure that brings diverse If we are to initiate positive change in
The reason we can’t tear ourselves away neighborhoods together — like the our communities, then we cannot con-
from these stories is a deep and abiding metro subway, or “T,” did for Boston’s tent ourselves with merely establishing
fear that the structure of our own first- blue bloods, Italian immigrants and or articulating these core principles. The
world communities is more fragile, more south-side Irish. This effort is not just vision of FutureStructure only comes
complex and more at risk than we would about sustainability, although sustain- alive when it is put into practice. The
like to admit to ourselves. And we’re right. ability has much to do with it. It’s about value of a tool or concept is found in its
FutureStructure involves doing resiliency, and, ultimately, humanity. application, not in itself. The pages of this
something about it. It’s about connect- To recap, and to introduce those new to issue — and the collected wisdom of some
ing people and ideas, and putting the the movement, FutureStructure has three of the nation’s leading thinkers, strate-
systems and infrastructure in place that basic tenets. Many different instances of gists, activists and practitioners — will

6 futurestructure  //  How Ideas Drive What we Build

A different approach to the usual problems

System resource flows of energy, water and

more over its landscape, including its

A community is best envisioned as a large
system made up of interdependent smaller linkages to embedded infrastructure.
“The age of the building, the size
systems. Everything is connected.
of the building, the shell of the build-
ing, the road infrastructure — all of
Transportation Economic these things have embedded energy
Vitality and resources,” says Pincetl. “That
Education infrastructure itself leads to what my
colleague Mike Chester calls ‘emer-
Social gent behavior.’” Emergent behavior is
Quality Infrastructure Jobs the collected decisions of community
members that arise from infrastructure
Governance environmental choices, or are at least heavily influ-
Finance Quality enced by them. The urban metabolism
map provided for Los Angeles County
will help enhance policy and improve
land-use decisions with real, tangible
apply FutureStructure to the challenges of the relationship between how we live, data. This is especially exciting, since
transportation and the built environment. what we build and what we consume.” the stakes are so high. As Pincetl notes,
By “transportation,” we mean some- Pincetl advocates looking at resource “Once you transform land, you can’t take
thing very large: all of the means, public flows and infrastructure lifecycle of a city it back … that is very, very difficult.”
and private, by which people and goods as a system, using deep and meaning- While we take full advantage of the
move from source to destination. And ful “cradle to grave” analysis. The ana- hard-data, number-crunching predilec-
by the “built environment,” we refer to lytical framework of urban metabolism tions of the planet’s brightest think tanks,
those physical artifacts wrought on the details “how energy flows in, how it is research institutions and journalists to
landscape by the efforts of human beings make the case for FutureStructure, the
and the use of capital — buildings, roads, best summation of this idea might come
power plants, parks, reservoirs, airports Contemporary from popular culture. The dreams, aspira-
and even the humble hike-and-bike trail. society is very tions and fears of a generation are perhaps
One leading thinker contributing
ideas to FutureStructure is Stepha-
resource extractive, most evident in its pop culture, specifi-
cally in how people envision the future.
nie Pincetl, Ph.D., an institute direc-
and we don’t have a Back in the 1950s, we envisioned the
tor and professor-in-residence at the good understanding future as a world of brushed stainless
University of California, Los Angeles of the relationship steel, atomic power, clean architecture and
(UCLA). Pincetl goes beyond past between how we live, form altogether following function. But
work in urban dynamics to consider a what we build and now, in the 2010s, we are the actual people
new urban metabolism: a method for
understanding an urban community
what we consume. who live in that world. As we — the people
of yesterday’s future — look ahead, what
along much the same lines as one would — Stephanie Pincetl, Ph.d., institute director and do we see? Is it simply more of the same?
professor, ucla
study a living organism. To her, urban The biggest difference in our present
metabolism “allows a comprehensive conceptualization of the future is that
accounting for the energy and materials used and how it flows out,” providing, “a it is altogether more human, and more
inputs and outputs of different com- very powerful way to understand that of a living community. The futurists of
munity systems within a comparative linkage, that supply-chain-type of link- today envision a world where technology
framework.”1 Pincetl’s research dove- age, between us and, say, the Congo’s is viewed less like a weapon and given
tails nicely with the concept of the city rare mineral deposits,” says Pincetl.2 a more human face. We want our car’s
as a system that we described in our To envision her community as a GPS and our smartphones to talk to us
first publication on FutureStructure. system, Pincetl was funded to develop in a lifelike voice. Many of us bristle at
“I really started my career interested an urban metabolism map of Los Ange- wearable computers that make our faces
in why we use land the way we do,” les County. The goal was to take the look creepily robotic. The future of our
Pincetl says. In her view, “Contemporary abstract concept and make it much imagination is different from that of our
society is very resource extractive, and more granular. After her team’s analy- predecessors. It’s more human. And
we don’t have a good understanding of sis, Los Angeles County could visualize that’s why we need FutureStructure.

8 futurestructure  //  How Ideas Drive What we Build

A different approach to the usual problems

 What is soft
A Few
examples: Led To California’s plan
for reducing green-
house gas emissions


0 6) framework
for constructing
the buildings

that comprise
our communities








G l o b a l Wa r m i n g S o


Building and zon

in public

v s . B oa r d o

a i lw ay A


the first




At the most simple level, soft

infrastructure starts with ideas, the concep-
tual frameworks that give shape and direction
to what is eventually physically manifest.
Our country’s founding documents, the
Declaration of Independence, the Constitu-
tion and Bill of Rights, are examples of soft
infrastructure. They are all ideas that have
shaped a nation. Civil service rules and public
procurement regulations are other examples
of soft infrastructure that define the operating
procedures of government organizations.
Soft infrastructure is the most important
element of the FutureStructure framework
because ideas, whether expressed as legislation,
regulations or organizational policy, quickly
become (for good or ill) as hard as concrete.
It will likely turn out that our most produc-
tive path to innovation starts with rebuilding
the “soft infrastructure” of our thinking.
Thinking Differently

About Transportation:
How Ideas Drive Throughout history,
many of the big transportation innova-
tions that have helped people to live better

What we Build.
have not involved high technology or even
hard infrastructure, at least in a primary
role. They have involved thinking better,
thinking differently, to paraphrase Steve

By Alex Marshall
Jobs, and in ways that don’t require an
advanced computer science degree.

10 futurestructure  //  How Ideas Drive What we Build

P12 When a Bus
Becomes a Subway
P12 Bicycle Sharing
P15 Complete Streets,
Shared Spaces and
Public Plazas
P17 A New Way to
Pay for Roads
P18 The
Chinatown Bus
P19 Thinking Better

 The Transbay
Transit Center is a
visionary project that
transforms downtown
San Francisco and the
regional transportation
system by creating
a modern regional
transit hub connecting
8 Bay Area counties
and 11 transit systems.
transbay transit center

It’s this thinking differently that Some of the most significant develop- plazas in streets. The public sector has
defines what we call soft infrastruc- ments in how we get around have come taken the lead in most of these initiatives,
ture, a necessary step before creating from simply rethinking how familiar but private companies have been involved
hard infrastructure. It involves looking things can be used, or how their support as well. What they have in common is a
at the lines on the mental maps in our systems can be structured. They include certain nimbleness, a readiness to rethink
heads, and sometimes rearranging the development of what has come to be the usual game plans. Advanced technol-
them. When that happens, old things known as bus rapid transit, public bike ogy and government money are often
can be used in new ways that are sharing, low-cost inter-city bus service, used, but neither has been crucial. What
transformative. pay-per-mile road pricing and public comes first is better conceptual thinking. 11
Thinking Differently About Transportation

 When a Bus
Becomes a Subway
In the 1970s, Jaime Lerner, the mayor
of the medium-sized city of Curitiba
in Brazil, and an architect and planner
by training, envied the benefits a sub-
way could provide a city. The heavy-rail
trains in tunnels underground could
carry people quickly from one place to
another, without interference from traf-
fic, and with rapid boarding
and exiting. But his city
could not afford a subway.
Then Lerner had a
thought: Why not have a
subway above ground, on
the street, with tires on a
road rather than wheels
on rails? Why not have
a high-speed bus? Thus
was born what came to be
Jaime Lerner called bus rapid transit or
BRT, which approaches
the benefits of a subway at a fraction
of the price. Buses with multiple doors
run on special lanes cleared of traffic,
and pick up passengers at pre-loaded,
pre-paid “tubes,” so they can board
quickly. Since its inception in Curitiba
in the mid 1970s, it has been refined,
improved and continues to this day.
 The first bus rapid transit system was developed in Curitiba, Brazil, and is now an internationally

From Curitiba, it has spread all over the recognized model for public transportation.
world. Istanbul has a significant BRT pro-
gram. In the United States, New York, Los in France in the 1970s, it was Paris that Fashion writers have noted that riding the
Angeles, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Eugene, catapulted public bike sharing into the free bicycles has become another way to
Boston, Chicago, Nashville and Pittsburgh growing popularity it enjoys today. Mayor engage in the French mode of displaying
either have a program or are working to Bertrand Delanoë launched Paris’ Vélib’ oneself and one’s style. By transforming
establish one. It’s easy to accomplish in plan for public bike sharing in 2007, which life so thoroughly in a world city, and by
theory. What’s hard are the politics of who established many of the accepted compo- the clear acceptance the plan gained, pub-
wins and loses. True BRT means clear- nents of bicycle sharing plans. It has sta- lic bicycle sharing earned credibility.
ing a lane completely of private cars and tions where bikes are available, a limited
building permanent station stops. But if free checkout period and private operation
done, it can deliver quick service cheaply. of the program — with support gained
through advertising. A private company
does the actual work of providing, storing
 Bicycle sharing and repairing bicycles, repaid in large part
The modern bicycle, two wheels through advertising revenues.  More
powered by thighs connected to pedals and Currently, more than 100,000 Pari- than 100,000
a chain, has been around 125 years. But in sians and tourists ride one of the more Parisians and
the past decade, cities have found a new than 20,000 beige bicycles each day. It visitors ride
the bikes that
way to use it: public bike sharing plans. has transformed the city. It’s common to
are part of
While various cities had experimented see French men and women promenad- Paris’ Vélib’
with public bicycles, including La Rochelle ing in their best clothes on the bikes. bike sharing
each day.
12 futurestructure  //  How Ideas Drive What we Build
Thinking Differently About Transportation
feature title

New York City

Mayor Michael R.
Bloomberg and
Department of
Janette Sadik-
Khan launched Citi
Bike, the nation’s
largest bike shar-
ing system, with
6,000 bikes avail-
able at more than
Bike sharing 300 stations on
systems such as May 27, 2013.
Divvy Bikes in Chicago
offer residents and
visitors an affordable,
sustainable transpor-
David kidd

tation alternative.

THe trend
of Two-wheeled
transportation in NYC
Bicycle commuting to and from Manhattan has more than doubled Flickr/ New York City Department of Transportation

since 2005, more than tripled since 2000 and more than quintupled
since 1990.

Citywide weekday traffic

volumes in NYC decreased
1.8% in 2011 and are
essentially unchanged over
the past four years. 1.8%
Three months after it Like many examples of thinking differ-
launched, Citi Bike — NYC’s ently, Delanoë began with a unique philoso-
bike sharing program — hit phy. He had the controversial idea that a
80,000 members. city could succeed economically by making
itself a nicer place to live, with less attention
In August 2013, the to things like tax breaks for companies or
Citi Bike system was conventional economic development. Dela-
averaging 36,000
noë did innovative things like turn freeways
bike trips per day.
into beaches in the summer months —
another example of soft infrastructure.
Since its success in Paris, bicycle
Since 2006, NYC has laid down more than sharing has spread to scores of cities large

250 miles of bike lanes and small, including London, Barcelona,

Montreal, Denver, Chicago and most

(just over 4% of the city’s 6,000 miles of streets). recently New York City. It is becoming an
accepted part of city life. And it began not
with a new technology or big investment of

14 futurestructure  //  How Ideas Drive What we Build

It is no coincidence that this hap-
pened at the same time in 2007 when
Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed
Janette Sadik-Khan to be the transporta-
tion commissioner in his second term.
Sadik-Khan, a lawyer and an experienced
capital, but with thinking differently. It is city dwellers, often escapees from auto transportation administrator in both the
transforming how cities are used, and how dependency, advocate for alternatives to public and private sector (Federal Tran-
people relate to the street. car dependency.”3 sit Administration and Parsons Brincker-
Roberta Gratz, author of The Living hoff ), moved quickly, showing a nimble-
City and The Battle for Gotham, says that ness not only in her conceptual plans,
there has been a general trend in recent  Complete Streets, but even more importantly in navigating
years by young people toward less car- Shared Spaces and the city and state’s treacherous political
oriented lifestyles. They are gravitating Public Plazas waters. Sadik-Khan and her staff utilized
toward walking, bicycling and another In New York City, cyclists can stop the Department of Transportation’s
old-fashioned technology: streetcars. and sit in plazas with tables and chairs (DOT) power to determine what hap-
“Piece by small piece, cities are that have sprouted in what were once city pens on city streets. To not get bogged
recreating the streetcar systems they streets. In an urban setting where streets down in endless public debate, her teams
were once built around, including Los are contested ground, and where the pace launched themselves, commando style,
Angeles, but traded in for the deceptive of change can be glacier, these enhance- and over a few days and nights painted
hope of the car,” says Gratz. “The recent ments have come quickly, essentially in the new bicycle lanes and turned streets into
and rapidly growing bicycle culture is last five and half years. plazas with café seating.
accelerating this trend as more and more 15
 Underutilized streets and other areas in NYC were
revamped into public plazas where people can relax and socialize.

David Kidd
“We changed a parking lot over a This has resulted in the biggest don’t have that in Rome,” he said.
weekend, from an underutilized area for change to how New York City streets Nearby, a group of burly guys from
parked cars to a plaza,” says Sadik-Khan are used in the last 75 years since cars Queens expressed their approval: “We’re
in an interview with Fast Company about began to dominate them — and for the sitting here aren’t we? We like it.”
one of the first projects in the DUMBO better. Cyclists use the new bike lanes, During the same time period in 2007
(Down Under the Manhattan Bridge and thousands of locals and tourists sit and 2008, Bloomberg spent millions in
Overpass) section of Brooklyn.4 “And we in Times Square and other lesser-known money and political capital in a sweep-
literally just painted it, painted it green, areas. And all this was done for a rela- ing campaign attempting to get permis-
sion from the state legislature to set

“We changed a parking lot over a up a congestion pricing system, where

drivers are charged to enter the city at
weekend, from an underutilized peak times. After a year and a half of

area for parked cars to a plaza. work, the state legislature did not even
vote on the bill and New York City lost
Three years later, the sales tax $350 million in promised federal fund-
receipts are 172 percent higher ing. The point of this example isn’t to

than before in the adjacent areas.”

blame Bloomberg for his valiant attempt,
but to point out that change can happen
Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportation quickly if the right levers are used.
ing more broadly, the bicycle lanes and
painted the curbs. Added tables and chairs tively small cost. The changes are now public plazas in New York and now
and planters. Three years later, the sales one of the most visible aspects of the city. many other cities fit into several related
tax receipts are 172 percent higher than On a sunny weekday afternoon, movements that are based on rethink-
before in the adjacent areas. It worked.” Andre from Rome sat with his spouse ing how and what streets are used for.
If it hadn’t, then the action could have at a café table in what used to be one They include the Complete Streets
been easily reversed. “One of the benefits lane where Broadway and Fifth Avenue movement (www.smartgrowthamerica.
of being able to try things out quickly is, intersect by Madison Square Park. In org/complete-streets), and “Shared
if it doesn’t work, fine, put it back,” Sadik- accented English, Andre noted the small Space,” where traffic signs are removed
Khan says in the same interview. “No but significant ways it was different and and children encouraged to play in the
harm, no foul. And that gave us the con- better than the famous pedestrian pla- streets, with the paradoxical results
fidence to move forward with something zas in Rome, where thousands gather. that streets are made safer. These are
like a Times Square [pedestrian plaza].” “The tables move. That’s important. We all examples of soft infrastructure.

16 futurestructure  //  How Ideas Drive What we Build

Thinking Differently About Transportation

 A new way to
pay for roads “The Oregon trail was a long one. It
Thinking differently can happen took six months to get here, and six
at any level, whether local, state or federal.
Oregon has been a national leader in
months to get back. We are used to
transportation and land use since the state thinking on our own.”
passed the statewide growth control act, Jim Whitty, Manager, Oregon Office of Innovative Partnership and Alternative Funding
Senate Bill 100, in 1973, and in 1974 tore
down the four-lane freeway Harbor Drive
to create a waterfront park. Since then,
both the state and the city of Portland are
renowned for developing a cleaner and Before
less car-centered form of life.
In recent years, the state DOT has
continued its record of innovation by
experimenting with a controversial but
also much sought after innovation: pay-
ing for roads by charging drivers for how
much they use the road, rather than for
how much gas they consume. The Office
of Innovative Partnership and Alterna-
tive Funding, part of Oregon DOT, exper-
iments with different ways of funding
highways and transportation. The same
office has been experimenting with build-
ing solar panels into highways.5
Among urban planners, there has
been a growing concern that the gas tax
can no longer be relied on as heavily,
because as fuel economy and the produc-
tion of electric cars increases, revenue  Before and after
from gas taxes decreases. Approved by images depicting
the previous four-
the legislature in 2011, the Road Usage
lane freeway Harbor
Charge Pilot Program equipped cars Drive in Oregon, now
with several types of transponders, sold transformed into a
by private companies, that measured waterfront park.
how many miles were driven and where,
and charged them accordingly. Users,
who were volunteers, received a bill in
the mail for their road use. Their gas
taxes were then refunded.
“The basic system worked like a
dream,” says Jim Whitty, manager of
the Office of Innovative Partnership and
Alternative Funding that set up and ran
the program.6 The information on miles
driven was transmitted easily through a
variety of devices to servers, which cal-
culated information so bills could be sent
out to the participants in the program. “It
has taken us into a new world. It allows
total scalability and flexibility,” he says.
After the success of the first pilot pro-
gram, the Oregon legislature approved
Senate Bill 810 in 2013 which sets up a
Top: City of Portland Archives, Oregon, Aerial view of Harbor Drive. A2012-005, 1974. Bottom: flickr/Greg_e 17
Thinking Differently About Transportation

 The Gas Tax:

More Miles per Gallon,
Fewer Dollars for Roads
While the federal gas tax – which is used to fund transportation infrastructure improvements
through the Highway Trust Fund – has remain unchanged for 20 years, cars have not. The
graphic below shows how rising construction costs and increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles
have been detrimental to the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.

Purchasing Power of the Gas Tax Has Dropped 28 percent Since 1997
Decline is Due Mostly to Construction Cost Inflation

1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011

Source: ITEP analysis of data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
Change in Purchasing Power



Impact of vehicle fuel-efficiency gains months to get back. We are used to thinking
Impact of construction cost inflation
on our own. It’s built into the culture.”

 the chinatown bus

It’s not just the public sector that
Several states are increasing their gas tax as a way to acquire funding for infrastructure manages to think differently.
improvements. Eight states increased their gas tax in July 2013. While BRT gains adherents, until
recently the old style inter-city bus
Wyoming 10 cents per gallon travel, where one travels from city to
Connecticut 3.84 cents per gallon city in a bus, had been steadily declin-
California 3.5 cents per gallon ing, year after year. The top companies,
Maryland 3.5 cents per gallon Trailways and Greyhound, had declared
Kentucky 2.4 cents per gallon bankruptcy multiple times and were bur-
Nebraska 1.7 cents per gallon dened by their expensive network of bus
Georgia 0.6 cents per gallon stations. Few people took an inter-city

North Carolina 0.1 cents per gallon bus unless it was a necessity.
Then, on a somewhat shabby corner
of a street in Lower Manhattan, another
larger pilot program that will put the Whitty envisions a day where all revolution was born. Ethnic Chinese began
necessary institutional infrastructure in newer electric or other low-mileage cars offering bus service to Boston at a ridicu-
place to make the program permanent, will use this technology routinely. The lously low price, often $10 one way. These
if desired. Oregon is on the way to being technology is such that car manufacturers buses had no stations. While perfectly
the first state to gradually replace the gas could easily build these devices into their respectable buses, they picked up people
tax with what before had been a dream cars for their customers. Programs like on the street. Gradually, non-Chinese
among planners, charging road use by “OnStar” already use this information. began hearing about the $10 bus service to
the mile driven. The system being set up Whitty speculated on why Oregon has Boston, and taking it. It was a lot cheaper
would also allow, if approved by the legis- been such a leader in innovative and new than the Amtrak train or driving yourself.
lature, to have a type of congestion pricing policy on a variety of fronts. At first, just a few daring urban adventur-
where roadways that are in high demand “The Oregon trail was a long one,” ers took what people began calling the
are priced more highly than those that are Whitty says, noting the state’s pioneer his- Chinatown bus, but others followed. Soon
not in high demand. tory. “It took six months to get here, and six a lot of people were.

18 futurestructure  //  How Ideas Drive What we Build

Thinking Differently About Transportation

 The Chinatown bus revolutionized inter-city buses by charging much lower rates and operating without bus stations.

Flash forward a few years, and dozens

of companies are offering such service; big
lane” where people pay for less traffic and
a bike lane. It’s a lot to squeeze into an “You can’t
international companies such as Megabus existing roadway, but the hope is that these have 22-lane
from England are investing in service; and
bus service itself is being revived all over
will change the game from the usual one,
where another lane is built which quickly highways. You
the country. Even established companies fills up again. The idea is to alter the can’t just keep
like Greyhound are benefiting. How big this
service can grow is debatable. Sidewalks
dynamics of development not only on the
highway but off of it. adding Lanes.
can only accommodate so many people, Emily Fishkin, director of infrastructure So you have to
and some cities, like Boston, are requiring
companies to use centralized stations. But
initiatives with the American Society of
Civil Engineers (ASCE), says policymakers do something
it’s clear that inter-city bus service has been
revived, and it all began when, out of neces-
were being pushed by circumstances to
explore new ways of doing things.
Emily Fishkin, Director
sity, some people began thinking differently. “You can’t have 22-lane highways,” Fish- of Infrastructure
kin says.7 “You can’t just keep adding lanes. Initiatives, ASCE
So you have to do something different.”
 THinking better What’s undeniable is that there has
What all of these examples have in been a general trend over the last decade
common is that none of them work by to build things smarter, lighter and more
simply adding more of what’s already carefully, not only in transportation but for
there, which until recently has been this all types of infrastructure. Space is dearer,
country’s usual mode of operation, par- and infrastructure must be constructed
ticularly with roadways. That’s changing. more carefully. In this type of environ-
For instance, Colorado is expanding ment, the soft infrastructure becomes
a highway between Boulder and Denver much more important. One can’t simply
that attempts to change the usual dynamic build indiscriminately, or throw money
on high-traffic roadways, where more at a problem. In transportation, it means
lanes are added in response to more traf- looking at alternatives to simply pouring
fic. Rather than simply add more lanes, asphalt. It means evaluating how people
the Colorado DOT, with support from live, and considering what the objectives
the federal government, is adding a BRT are, and whether there are other, better
lane, a high-occupancy vehicle lane, a “hot means to get there.

BY John Miri

Bumps the

futurestructure  //  How ideas drive what we build
Optimizing Our
Systems 21
Avoiding bumps in the road

All of the wisdom in better management of soft infrastructure

will be lost if it isn’t integrated tightly with its companion elements of hard infrastructure
(bridges, roads and buildings) and technology (intelligent transportation systems and
information technology). FutureStructure requires a tight coupling of all three domains —
soft, hard and tech — to deliver real benefits for communities.

Transportation is Energy in Motion other aspects of the system of civic life. will mitigate heavy truck traffic, as well
Williamson County, Texas, racked For example, Texas may lead the nation as have positive environmental impact by
up a 69 percent increase in its number in innovative and unconventional oil reducing the flaring, or burning of oil and
of jobs between 2000 and 2012. That is and gas exploration, but growth in the gas, that sometimes occurs when wells
extremely fast growth, even by Texas energy sector isn’t possible without a come in and pipelines are not in place.”
standards. With a boost in overall popula- sustainable transportation system. Texas is even negotiating with a private
tion to match the job growth,8 civic lead- “Exploitation of shale oil and gas assets sector partner to provide a concession
ers were faced with a major challenge: requires a high volume of heavy truck and for a monorail-style system that would
The county needed a significant amount equipment traffic, typically on rural roads move truck trailers in an automated fash-
of new hard infrastructure, includ- designed and built to handle farm and ion from the Mexican Border to Dallas.
ing roads, power, water and schools. ranch traffic. The wear and tear on these “If this innovative project comes to
Tony Dale served as mayor pro tem roads has made them less safe and put a fruition it will reduce traffic on the heav-
of the city of Cedar Park — one of the strain on the counties typically responsible ily congested I-35 corridor, decrease road
fastest-growing municipalities within for the maintenance,” says Dale. To power maintenance costs and increase safety,”
Williamson County — and on several future growth, Dale and other transporta- says Dale. “The bottom line is that gov-
transportation-related boards at the tion-minded state officials are looking to ernment must not fear innovation and
county level. Dale recently completed innovate hard infrastructure in ways that must establish a framework where the
his first term representing the area in go beyond simply building more roads. private sector can help solve these prob-
the Texas House of Representatives. “As it relates to congestion on high- lems. There will never be enough tax
“The Texas State Demographer esti- ways, it is my opinion that computer- money and you can’t pave everything.”
mates that the state is currently adding assisted driving could reduce accidents
about 1,100 new residents per day,” says and increase travel speeds leading to Technology Makes Hard
Rep. Dale.9 “That is creat- multiple benefits for Infrastructure Smarter
ing tremendous pressure
on all types of infrastruc-
“The bottom line commuters. It may even
be possible to achieve
Of course, information technology
is playing a large role in modernizing
ture to include transporta-
is that govern- higher, safer speeds transportation. Everything seems to
tion as well as water and
ment must not without increasing road be going back to school these days to
schools … in addition to
fear innovation capacity,” says Dale. In become “smart” — smart roads, smart
and must estab-
other basic services.”
Dale notes that while
lish a framework his estimation, pipelines
are also a key part of the
grids, smart traffic systems and even
entire smart cities. Technology continues
the transportation infra-
where the private state’s transportation to be critical to the long-range planning
structure is certainly vital
sector can help infrastructure. “Pipe- of future projects through GIS mapping,
solve these lines are the safest mode
to the movement of people sophisticated data mining and statistical
problems. There
around the state, it also of transportation for any analysis. But those high-powered tools
will never be
supports key industries enough tax money product and specifically are increasingly leaving the engineer’s or
and job creation. As such, and you can’t for the hydrocarbons the planner’s office and heading out to
he sees transportation and pave everything.” produced in Texas,” he the highways and byways themselves.
David kidd

the built environment as says. “Expedited con- For example, everyone knows that
Tony Dale, Member of the Texas
inextricably linked to all House of Representatives struction of pipelines the traffic around the U.S. capital region

22 futurestructure  //  How ideas drive what we build

Los Angeles’
Automated Traffic
Surveillance and
Control System
alerts traffic engineers
whenever there are
unusual levels of
congestion in the city. 23
Avoiding bumps in the road

is challenging to say the least. A new

project under the Commonwealth of
Virginia “GEC Megaprojects Program”
will add an additional 14 miles of two
new lanes in each direction on I-495.
These aren’t ordinary lanes, however. The
high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes will be
free for vehicles that carry three or more
people, and tolled for those that don’t.
Using a novel intelligent transportation
system (ITS), the tolls on the lanes can
be changed based on traffic conditions
to regulate demand. Higher tolls can be
charged during busy times and lower
tolls on off hours. The result is smarter
management of traffic on the roads.10
The outcome of the I-495 improve-
ments isn’t just convenience for drivers
— it’s also positive for the environment
as well. Researchers estimate that stop-
and-go traffic decreases gas mileage by
40 percent. The ITS will enable lane-
specific speeds and active speed man-
agement. When commuters maintain a
steady rate of speed, their pocketbooks
and carbon emissions will benefit. The
project is also innovative in its struc-
ture as a public-private partnership.11
Within and between communities,  Computer programs keep traffic
other forms of transit are also gaining flowing along major corridors in L.A.
David kidd

ground. Los Angeles recently topped

New York City at providing access to
public transportation to households
without vehicles. According to a Brook- on improving public transportation Julia Burrows, president and executive
ings Institution study, 99.1 percent of in L.A. County. “I think there was a director of the Greenwise Joint Ven-
L.A. residents in no-car homes had broad appreciation that building more ture in Sacramento, Calif., (a nonprofit
ready access to public transit. The high freeways was a source of the problem, organization dedicated to transforming
percentage is especially good news not an opportunity for a solution.”14 Sacramento into the greenest region in
for low-income households, which The improvements in Los Angeles trans- the country) sees financing as an insepa-
rely on the mass transit system.12 portation — and the vision that inspired rable part of the overall task of building
This accomplishment came, in part, them — are significant in their scope but prosperous and sustainable communities.
as a result of “Measure R,” a 2008 integrated in a way that demonstrates the In fact, finance is one of the most criti-
ballot initiative that instituted a half-cent principle of FutureStructure. Los Angeles cal considerations of all civic planning.
sales tax that would be used to address has combined what were formally sepa- “The cities that have been success-
the county’s transportation needs. Over rate projects — like a 30-year, 1,680-mile ful have not only integrated the differ-
its 30-year lifespan, the tax will raise bicycle master plan, a public-private bike ent departments that are in charge of
$40 billion for innovative solutions that share program, HOT lanes, congestion transportation, planning, building and
will ease congestion. Funds already pricing and a network of 4,398 high-tech utilities, but they have also integrated
raised by the measure are going towards networked traffic signals — into an inte- financing,” says Burrows.16 Her own
new public transportation infrastruc- grated, well-planned and networked whole experience as the deputy city manager
ture, including rail and bus lines.13 in which component parts work together.15 for Roseville, Calif., bears this out: “With
“We really had maxed out what the city of Roseville … when we looked
could be done with asphalt,” says When the Bill Comes Due at a 1,000-acre development and consid-
Denny Zane, executive director of Move Of course, any grand transporta- ered where everything should go, we ran
LA. Zane’s organization is focused tion vision has to be paid for somehow. the financing model at the same time.”

24 futurestructure  //  How ideas drive what we build

 Los Angeles
has combined would charge drivers a vehicle mile-
what were formerly age tax (VMT) instead of the tradi-
separate projects tional gas tax. The change would both
— like a 30-year, eliminate the unpopular gas tax that
1,680-mile bicycle is viewed as increasingly unsustain-
master plan, a able for transportation financing
public-private needs and it would encourage pur-
bike share pro- chasing cars with better MPG, low-
gram, HOT lanes, ering fuel emissions. This approach
congestion pricing is one way that states are looking
and a network of to close the increasing imbalance
4,398 high-tech caused by higher-mileage vehicles.20
As an additional option, transporta-
networked traffic
tion financing can come from trust funds
signals — into
that tax certain purchases specific to a
an integrated,
particular industry. For example, people
well-planned and flying commercial planes pay a tax on
networked whole in their airline ticket that goes into the
which component Aviation Trust Fund, which provides
parts work together. grants to airports to cover some of their
capital and operating costs, including
that of the air traffic control
system.21 Some states may be
“We really had considering tapping the energy
maxed out what sector for a similar infrastruc-
could be done
ture fund approach to meet
with asphalt. I
think there growing transportation needs.
was a broad Another way policymakers
appreciation can fund transportation proj-
that building ects and upkeep is through the
more freeways use of public-private partner-
was a source of ships. In Boston, the Massa-
the problem, not chusetts Highway Department
States have a particularly vexing an extra 3.5 cents an opportunity (MassHighway) and the Mas-
funding challenge when it comes to per gallon to pay for a solution.” sachusetts Executive Office of
the gas tax. The U.S. federal gas tax for transportation Denny Zane, Executive Director, Move LA
Transportation partnered with
hasn’t been raised since 1993, and it projects, taking a private company to perform
is assessed on a per-gallon basis. As its total rate to 27 improvements and additions
gas mileage has climbed, that means cents per gallon.18 to the Route 3 North highway.
vehicles are driving more miles for Even though state gas taxes are seen The involvement of the private sector
each gallon of gas they purchase. More as more palatable than federal gas taxes, reduced the project’s delivery time from
miles driven means more wear and in general gas taxes are not looked upon an expected nine years to less than
tear on the roads, and a growing bud- fondly by taxpayers or policymakers. The four. The agreement required the
get gap between revenues and costs. commonwealth of Virginia actually took private sector partner to operate and
To help overcome the transportation a new approach when it dropped its 17.5 maintain the road for a 30-year period
funding gap, states have taken matters into cent-per-gallon tax on fuel in favor of a before transferring it over to MassHigh-
their own hands — which is why eight of new 3.5 percent wholesale tax. While the way — providing an incentive for higher
them recently raised their state gas tax, change is not revenue neutral — motorists quality and containment of mainte-
effective July 1 of this year (see infographic are expected to pay an average of $15 more nance costs.22 Whatever the funding
on page 18). Wyoming added the most at per month — the new structure will auto- strategy, creating funds for transporta-
10 cents per gallon, while Connecticut, matically take account of inflation. That’s tion innovations and maintenance is
California, Maryland, Kentucky, Nebraska, something that the old gas tax never did, an ongoing struggle and an increasing
Georgia and North Carolina imposed gas remaining fixed all of the last 26 years.19 problem as our nation’s growth rap-
tax increases as well, all to help fund their As mentioned previously, the state idly rises — but as evidenced, innova-
transportation budgets.17 Maryland added of Oregon recently passed a bill that tive financing models do exist. 25
After an
energy retrofit,
the California
DMV now exceeds
the 2005 Title 24
energy code
by 12.5% and
realizes annual
energy cost
savings of

Connecting our communities and creating
our future with a better built environment
BY Jack
McGowan &
Bob Graves

In the city planning and urban simulation video In our first FutureStructure publica-
game SimCity, players are tasked with founding and building tion, we introduced the importance of
communities while ensuring citizens are happy and budgets viewing the city as a system and as a living
are kept in check. Releases of the game throughout the years thing that incorporates and organizes non-
have increased complexity of decision-making while making living components in service of its ends. In
this issue, we take that farther and focus
the depth of the simulation more “real” for the player.
on two of the most important parts of any
While the extremely popular game has grown, expanded and evolved to fit the city system — transportation and the built
sparked the interest of many future urban needs of their citizens. But the problem environment. In the previous two articles
planners, it has also likely left many shak- has been that different parts of the city in this issue, we focused on the soft, hard
ing their heads once they meet the reality have different needs, oftentimes leav- and technological components of optimiz-
of city planning, urban design and infra- ing the overall whole overlooked. Siloed ing our transportation systems. Now it’s
structure improvements. If only decisions thinking and overspecialization can lead time to focus on the built environment.
could be made regarding the re-routing to mismatched parts — a Frankenstein- When we talk about the built environ-
of an interstate or the construction of a type conglomeration of well-intentioned ment, we mean the man-made things
community arena with ease and planners projects that simply don’t work together. you see when you walk out of your front
could see the immediate impact of that Short-term needs have often come door. It’s all of the artifacts we humans
decision and how it affects the city overall. before long-term sustainability and resil- have constructed over time and continue
But it’s simply not that easy. iency. And the need for infrastructure to update — our buildings, roads, power
Throughout history, cities have has traditionally outpaced the ability plants, parks, reservoirs, airports and

served as hubs of civilization. They have to finance it. more. It’s the places we go and the things

26 futurestructure  //  How ideas drive what we build

we use to get there. It’s the critical infra-
structure that our communities need in
place to attract industry and citizens and
position the city to thrive economically and
socially for years to come.

The Big Picture:

Thinking Differently About Building
The urbanization of the world is rap-

facebook/phx renews
idly increasing. One hundred years ago, Phoenix is a leader in exemplary municipal energy management and is recognized for best
2 out of every 10 people lived in a city, but practices in setting goals for reducing energy use in local government operations. One of the city’s
by 2010 this number had increased to 5 in sustainability projects, “PHX Renews,” transformed 15 acres of vacant land into sustainable public
space for community gardens, outdoor classrooms and public art.
10. It is projected that by 2030, 6 out of 10
people will live in a city. Sixty million peo-
ple become urban residents every year.23 been designed in mind for transporta- from the campus to Denver’s core.” The
This type of growth requires innovative tion of the four-wheeled variety. Every overall idea is to move away from the sub-
thinking to promote resilient, thriving commercial building was surrounded by urban office-park model of the original
communities that are economically sound parking lots and kept firmly separate from campus design to a “highly urban envi-
— in short, good places to live for the residential areas — the two linked only by ronment inspired by the nearby urban
people who live there. roads and highways. Now, design quality neighborhoods of Lower Downtown.”25
The built environment has an enor- has become the focus for not just better Too often city planning has occurred
mous impact on a city’s ability to suc- designed corner street stores, but also for in a vacuum, without taking advantage
ceed or fail — and what once “worked” a number of large-scale projects the city is of local resource strengths. Building took
is often no longer an attractive asset. funding, including a new museum, arena, place one project at a time. But once hard
No city knows this better than Hous- ballpark, cultural center and parks.24 infrastructure is set in place it dictates
ton. Thought of as a city of sprawl, the In Denver, the Auraria West Redevel- how residents connect, or, conversely, are

Houston metropolitan area is spread opment is a project designed to revitalize disconnected from each other. Building
out and requires an automobile to navi- the downtown area. Through a public- for the future requires a systemic view
gate. The city, however, is straying from private partnership, the Community Col- of the entire built environment and how
its roots and making moves to become lege of Denver, Metropolitan State College one project will affect the whole. Think-
more compact, with options for public of Denver and the University of Colorado ing differently requires building for what
transportation and communities made at Denver will share facilities, includ- the populace might need 30 years from
for walking and biking. Mixed-use areas, ing a student center, classrooms, faculty now — not only what they need today.
part development, part residential, with and student housing, and a large under- For its part, the Metropolitan Washing-
shops and restaurants, are taking the ground parking garage. Also included ton Council of Governments is using a tool
place of traditional suburban communi- are retail developments and a transfer called State of Place to guide its efforts to
ties dotted with homes and nothing else. station for the RTD light rail system that improve the region’s walkability and eco-
El Paso, too, is taking a cue from trendy could accommodate a streetcar connect- nomic performance.26 Developed by Mari-
cities like Portland and Austin. Drawing ing Auraria to the city’s urban core. With ela Alfonzo, Ph.D., research fellow at NYU-
on principles of new urbanism, city offi- work already well underway, the latest Poly, it is a place rating and walkability
cials wanted to create more livable com- version of the Auraria Higher Education diagnostic tool
munities. The city had been impacted by Center’s master plan calls for “strong that informs
 The Auraria West
sprawl and infrastructure had traditionally physical and programmatic connections economic
Redevelopment is a
project designed to
revitalize downtown
Denver by having the
Community College of
Denver, Metropolitan
State College of Denver
and the University of
Colorado at Denver
share facilities that
include retail develop-

ments and a transfer

station for the RTD
rail system. 27
Building Better
America’s Buildings
120 million build- also consume
ings consume a 72 percent of
huge amount of the nation’s
energy, includ- electricity and
development, guides investment, aids ing 42 percent 34 percent
place branding and enhances communi- of the nation’s of its directly
ties. Community members and planners in primary energy. used natural gas.
over 95 neighborhoods are making block-
by-block assessments of some 250 features “Traditionally, build-
within 10 different urban design dimen- ings have been created
sions. The tool pulls existing data together by an architect with
and gives a profile of what’s working and an idea who then gives
what makes the most sense to change. that three-dimensional idea to
a mechanical engineer, a structural
Drilling Deeper: engineer, a landscape architect, etc. And
Integrative Design of Buildings they say, here’s the building, now heat The annual
Important too is the people at the table it, cool it, put a structure around it,” says cost to power
buildings in the
when planning takes place. Gone are the Bob Berkebile, principal at BNIM.27 United States is
days where a master builder strategized, “Integrative design means designing the $400 billion.
planned and executed a building, a project building as a whole system and optimizing
or even an entire city. In our first Future- it for multiple benefits rather than optimiz-
Structure publication, we noted the “prob- ing components of the building or subsys-
lem of specialists.” Not that specialists tems of the building for single benefits,” “We now have a way to help government
and specific jobs aren’t needed, but that says Amory B. Lovins, chairman and chief prioritize needs and allocate resources
their creation has led to a silo of informa- scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute.28 for the physical infrastructure upon
tion and the lack of a holistic view. The Integrative design has been used in mul- which everything else depends.”30
Rocky Mountain Institute, an organi- tiple successful institute projects, including
zation dedicated to sustainability — the energy efficient retrofit measures for Energy Efficiency
particularly in the areas of energy the Empire State Building, which resulted According to the Rocky Mountain
and resource efficiency — advo- in a 38 percent energy use reduction with Institute, America’s 120 million build-
cates for integrative design an annual cost savings of $4.4 million, and ings consume a huge amount of energy
for the built environment. the retrofit of the City and County Build- — 42 percent of the nation’s primary
Integrative design starts ing for the city of Indianapolis. There, a energy, 72 percent of its electricity and
with getting input earlier diverse group of building industry experts 34 percent of its directly used natural
in the building process identified opportunities, barriers and solu- gas. If America’s buildings were a sepa-
— including input from tions to achieving significant energy sav- rate country, they would be the third
people that would not ings. The research revealed that the since biggest energy user behind China and
normally be involved 1959, the city had pumped over 200 gal/ the U.S. The annual cost to power build-
until later in a project. min of groundwater from the lower park- ings in the United States is $400 billion
The ultimate goal is ing deck due to a high water table, which — as much as we spent on Medicare in
to design the building could be used to heat and cool the build- 2009 — and much of that is wasted.31
as a whole system. ing. The city and county recently signed Traditionally, energy use in our
an Energy Savings Performance Contract existing buildings has been tremendously
(ESPC) for 57 percent energy savings.29 wasteful, but new equipment technology
Integrative design Resources are also coming available to and building materials, as well as better
was used when imple- help community leaders make decisions designs, improve energy efficiency and
menting the energy about their important public assets. One offer huge opportunities to save money,
efficient retrofit mea-
such tool, developed by the Institute for reduce impact on the environment and
sures for the Empire
State Building, which Sustainable Infrastructure, is its new rat- drive job creation in virtually every
resulted in a 38 ing system called Envision that serves to community across the country.
percent energy guide public decisions on what should Phoenix is a leader with exemplary
use reduction be built. Envision is designed to cover all municipal energy management and is
with an annual
civil infrastructure from roads, bridges recognized for best practices in setting
cost savings of
$4.4 million. and railways to solid waste landfills, goals for reducing energy use in local
water supplies, wastewater treatment government operations. The city closely
plants, power transmission lines and the monitors energy use and broadly com-
public spaces in our cities, towns and municates energy savings results. Mayor
local communities. William Bertera, ISI’s Greg Stanton says, “It is the leader-
executive director, explains it this way, ship and commitment to sustainability

28 futurestructure  //  title to come

Building Better

— coupled with great implementation interests and improve the community in in the pipeline, with more than 150
— that drives great cities forward.”32 the process.”34 California passed the first trained local contractors ready to
After realizing that energy costs are PACE legislation in 2008. Since then, 30 begin work across the city. According
the largest budget item after payroll, the other states and the District of Colum- to independent research conducted
city evaluated 300 buildings and identi- bia have passed similar enabling laws. by ECONorthwest, every $100 mil-
fied and deployed efficiency projects PACE allows property owners to defer lion invested via Clean Energy Sac-
that saved it $22.8 million. Phoenix also the upfront costs of their improvements ramento is projected to create 1,500
developed an energy savings reinvest- (which can include HVAC, insulation, jobs, $250 million in economic activ-
ment program, completing $4.4 mil- solar, water conservation, etc.) and pay ity and $25 million in tax revenue.
lion in efficiency improvements with them back on their property tax bills over PACE monetizes the upgrade process
reinvested energy savings. Additionally, a period of up to 20 years. The loan is by mining trapped value in buildings.
Mayor Stanton’s signature sustainability attached to the property, rather than tied to Savings, generated by increased efficien-
project, “PHX Renews,” was launched in the homeowner. If the property is sold the cies, can be used to upgrade building
2012. The initiative promises to transform debt continues on the tax rolls to be paid components without need for public
15 acres of vacant land into sustainable by the subsequent owners. To date, 180 subsidy and provides a ready avenue
public space for community gardens, PACE projects have been completed (43 of to improve a community’s commercial
outdoor classrooms and public art. these being government buildings) total- and residential building stock. Deeper
Also a leader in energy efficiency, ing over $37 million in funded projects.35 energy retrofits that involve redesigning
Hartnell Community College in Cali-
fornia has been recognized for its high
performance buildings and use of renew-
able energy sources. It serves as a model
of infrastructure design and integration.
The college’s most recent solar project is
expected to reduce electricity use at its
Alisal Campus by more than 90 percent.
“This project will help Hartnell College
advance a number of our goals, including
achieving improved sustainability at all
three campuses and setting an example
we hope will resonate across the state,”
says College President Willard Clark
Lewallen.33 “With many of our students
looking to pursue careers in the emerging
green economy, this project also serves
 Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson launches the PACE-backed Clean Energy
as an extraordinary learning opportunity
Sacramento project that is expected to create 1,500 jobs, $250 million in economic
to perform project-based research.”

activity and $25 million in tax revenue for every $100 million invested.

Paying for Our Building

A significant hurdle to overcome Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has major systems from heating and cool-
is the upfront costs to upgrade build- been a leading proponent of PACE as a tool ing to the building envelope open up
ing efficiency. City leaders are looking to spur economic development and job cre- opportunities to modernize a build-
for innovative ways to encourage and ation. In January 2013, in partnership with ing’s appearance while simultaneously
incentivize owners to make changes Ygrene Energy, he opened the Sacramento reaping significant energy savings.
to their properties. In this vein, a new Clean Energy Center. “Launching Clean Of course, PACE is not the only
private sector financing tool is rap- Energy Sacramento is a major milestone in such financing tool available. But its
idly coming into use called Property establishing this city as a national leader in rapid spread across the country shows
Assessed Clean Energy (PACE). the green economy,” says Johnson.36 “Not the strength of interest by state and
Cisco DeVries, president and CEO of only are we making Sacramento a cleaner local governments to access new
Renewable Funding, initiated the first and healthier place to live, we’re also put- approaches. Other financing options
PACE district in 2008 while chief of staff ting Sacramento’s hard-hit construction include: energy savings performance
for the mayor of Berkeley, Calif. “Financ- business back to work and revitalizing contracting, mortgage-back financ-
ing doesn’t motivate people to do some- our economy at zero cost to taxpayers.” ing, sustainable energy utilities, state
thing,” DeVries adds, “but it’s a way to get Clean Energy Sacramento launched and municipal loan programs, and
property owners to engage in their own with $22 million of prequalified projects utility-backed on-bill financing. 29

Capitalizing on the Public Sector’s ‘Hidden’ Resources

In this period of economic Calif. — have undertaken a wide range term, sustainable projects that will
concern and uncertainty, governments of solar, lighting and energy efficiency benefit our community for decades
fulfill a role of increasingly critical import. projects, which are expected to produce to come.”
However, the cost of providing public significant returns on investment. For
services and carrying out the functions example, Kings County is expected to Local economies benefit from these
of government continue to increase while save $12 million, Lemoore will reduce savings and the “multiplier effect”
resources available to fulfill governmental costs by $45 million and the City of Brea is helps increase tax bases that further
mandates and missions can be scarce. expected to reduce its electricity expenses benefit city and county revenues.
by 65 percent. Renewable energy projects also
This dilemma’s resolution may be in finding provide significant environmental and
‘hidden’ resources and using them wisely, as “The City of Brea’s work with Chevron educational benefits by connecting
cities, counties and other public institutions Energy Solutions will save millions of students with hands-on demonstration
around the country have already done, by taxpayer dollars by cutting our energy of science and math skills.
partnering with Chevron Energy Solutions on consumption,” said then-Mayor Roy
hundreds of projects. Moore of the project. “[Our project also] In an era of increasing costs and
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positions Brea as an environmental declining budgets, real solutions are

Numerous governments — including Kings leader in the county, and demonstrates being developed and implemented by
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To find out more about Chevron Energy Solutions, visit

endnotes Underwriters

1 Stephanie Pincetl, Paul Bunje, Institute of 22. U.S. Department of Transportation Federal
the Environment, UCLA, “Urban Metabolism Highway Administration, “Project Profiles:
Studies for the 21 Century Sustainable City.” Route 3 North,”
2. All information from Stephanie Pincetl from project_profiles/ma_route3.htm.
interview conducted on Sept. 19, 2013. 23. World Health Organization, Urban Population
3. All information from Roberta Gratz from Growth,
email interview. tion_trends/urban_population_growth_text/en/
4. Fast Company, “Dynamic Duos: Michael 24. Tod Newcombe, “El Paso Teaches New
Bloomberg and Janette Sadik-Khan on the Urbanism to Architects, Engineers,”
Future of Walking, Biking, and Driving,” Governing, urban-notebook/gov-city-governments-make-
city-bloomberg-and-janette-sadik-khan new-urbanism-part-of-work-culture.html
5., Innovative Partnerships Program, 25. Alan Prendergast, “Looking to Auraria’s future while studying the lessons of its past,” Denver acknowledgements
inn_solarhighway.aspx Westword News,
6. All information from Jim Whitty interview 02-28/news/auraria-campus-history/2/ Dennis McKenna originated the con- group, Regional Plan Association in New
conducted on Aug. 30, 2013. 26. Metropolitan Washington Council of
7. All information from Emily Fishkin from Governments, State of Place Tool, www. cept of FutureStructure and serves as its York, and a columnist on transportation
interview conducted on Aug. 28, 2013. “lead developer,” building on nearly three and economic development for Govern-
8. Benjamin Wermund, “As population booms, ZV1dWFlX20120828143028.pdf
Williamson County works to bring in 27. All information from Bob Berkebile from decades of research and reporting at the ing magazine. A graduate of Columbia
businesses,” Austin American Statesman, interview. intersection of technology and government. University’s Graduate School of Journal-
Jan. 4, 2013. 28. Rocky Mountain Institute, Built Environment:
9. All information from Tony Dale from interview Methods, As co-founder and CEO of e.Republic, ism, Marshall’s work has appeared in
conducted on Sept. 21, 2013. ment_methods McKenna is the architect of national con- The New York Times, Bloomberg View,
10. Virginia GEC Megaprojects Design-Build, 29. Amory B. Lovins, “Integrative Design: A
Northern Virginia, CH2M Hill, 2013. Disruptive Source of Expanding Returns to versations about making government Metropolis Magazine, Planning Maga-
11. Ibid. Investments in Energy Efficiency,” Rocky and communities better: through the zine, The Washington Post, The Boston
12. Matt Sledge, “Los Angeles Public Transit Mountain Institute, 2010
Access Top Among Major Metropolitan Areas, 30. Bob Graves, “Sustainability and websites and pages of Governing, Globe, Slate, Salon, Architecture, Revue
Besting Even New York,” Huffington Post Los Our Horizontal Infrastructure,” Governing Government Technology, Public CIO Urbanisme and many other publications.
Angeles, Aug. 18, 2013. 31. Rocky Mountain Institute,
13. Ryan Holeywell, “Villaraigosa Leaves Office and Emergency Management; and
with Transportation Legacy,” Governing, 32. City of Phoenix, through the work of the Governing Insti- Jack McGowan, CEM is President
June 27, 2013. mayorwork/Sustainability/index.html
14. Ibid. 33. “Hartnell College and Chevron Energy tute and Center for Digital Government. of Energy Control Inc. (ECI), an Optera
15. Ibid. Solutions Build a Sustainable Future with Energy Company. He is a Senior
16. All information from Julia Burrows from Monterey County’s Newest Solar Energy
interview conducted on Aug. 28, 2013. Project,” John Miri is the Editor-in-Chief for the Fellow with the Governing Institute
17. Wenqian Zhu, “Eight States Raise their room/default.asp?pr=pr_20130417.asp Center for Digital Government. As an and a Fellow with the Association of
Gas Tax,” CNNMoney, July 2, 2013. 34. All information from Cisco DeVries from
18. Daniel Leaderman, “Maryland fuel tax hike interview conducted on Sept. 4, 2013. agency executive and governor’s appoin- Energy Engineers. McGowan is Chair-
took effect Monday,”, June 28, 35. PACENow Market Dashboard, http://pace- tee, Miri led transformational projects that man Emeritus of the U.S. Department
19. Fredrick Kunkle and Laura Vozzella, “Virginia 36. Clean Energy Sacramento, reshaped hundreds of online services of Energy GridWise Architecture Council
lawmakers approve sweeping transportation ca/sacramento/news and billions of dollars of revenue for the and was Founding Co-Chair of the
plan,” The Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2013.
20. Ryan Holeywell, “Oregon to Charge Drivers state of Texas. Since then, he has become Department of Commerce, National
by the Mile – Not the Gallon,” Governing, a nationally recognized speaker, author Institute of Standards and Technol-
July 15, 2013.
21. Robert W. Poole, Jr., “Funding Important and close advisor to top officials through ogy; Building to Grid Working Group.
Transportation Infrastructure in a Fiscally a unique approach that combines the McGowan is an author with 5 books
Constrained Environment,” Reason
Foundation, January 2013. enthusiastic embrace of new technology on Fairmont Press and Prentice Hall
with a steadfast adherence to the found- and over 200 articles published.
ing principles of representative govern-
Dr. Mark Funkhouser, Director, Governing Institute ment. Miri graduated from Harvard Uni- Bob Graves, M.S., associate director of
Dr. Paul Taylor, Editor-at-Large, Governing versity with an honors degree in Physics. the Governing Institute, is the designated
Marina Leight, Associate Publisher, Infrastructure content curator for the FutureStructure
Jeana Bruce, Director of Custom Media Alex Marshall, a journalist and writer initiative and also a co-founder of
Rebecca Johnson, Editor of Custom Media for a quarter century, is author of the e.Republic, the parent organization
Kelly Martinelli, Chief Design Officer recent book, The Surprising Design of of Governing. As associate director,
Michelle Hamm, Creative Director Market Economies (University of Texas Graves writes, presents, moderates
2012), as well as How Cities Work: and provides advice on FutureStructure
Suburbs, Sprawl and The Roads subjects drawing from his more than
Not Taken (University of Texas 2000), 25 years of experience working with
and Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret private sector companies, nonprofits,
Lives of Cities (Carroll & Graf 2006). He and state and local governments.
is a Senior Fellow at the urban planning
The Governing Institute advances better
government by focusing on improved The Center for Digital Government is a national
outcomes through research, decision research and advisory institute on information
support and executive education to help technology policies and best practices in state To learn more about FutureStructure or how to get
public sector leaders govern more effectively. and local government. involved as an underwriter, contact Marina Leight, Associate Publisher, Infrastructure at

Both are divisions of e.Republic. 31
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