march, 2022

01mar11:00 am12:30 pmFoSCI Winter Dialogue: "The Challenge and Opportunity of Greening America’s Small Cities”

Event Details

How do we decarbonize our smaller post-industrial cities—which are seeing a second coming?

Small cities are having their moment. During Covid we saw strong migration patterns out of large cities to an array of smaller legacy cities—which offer affordability, a high quality of life, a multitude of real estate opportunities, access to the outdoors, remote work options, and a strong sense of community. These newcomers are changing the face of these small cities, and with their arrival come important questions of equity, access, and inclusion.

Some of the biggest questions are around how we can decarbonize these places to meet our aggressive climate goals. The transportation sector is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions within counties that contain small legacy cities. In the cities themselves, retrofitting and electrifying commercial and residential buildings are also challenging, as small legacy cities often feature old housing stock, dormant industrial spaces, budgetary constraints, a lack of a trained “green” workforce, and entrenched, outdated ideas of economic development. Yet there are also huge opportunities for green investment in these small cities—leaning into community networks, testing out pilot projects for electrification, district geothermal, energy storage, hyper-local urban food systems, and community solar projects.

During this dialogue, we will first hear from Dr. Catherine Tumber, author of Small, Gritty, and Green, who has been working on an inventory of small city sustainability plans for the Lincoln Instute for Land Policy. She will provide a national portrait of what small cities are doing to green themselves, where they are succeeding and struggling, and what trends we will see over the next decade.

We will then examine the case study of Ithaca, NY, where Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres, the city’s sustainability coordinator, has created an extraordinary funding model to decarbonize 4,000 buildings in the city. While every city can’t be Ithaca, there are many lessons to be learned from Dr. Aguirre-Torres’s work.

After their presentations, we will have a conversation and answer questions for the audience. Join us for an exciting event that will offer solutions and point to the potential lucrative future of financing municipal decarbonization.


(Tuesday) 11:00 am - 12:30 pm



Online presentation