Catalyzing Sustainability Impact: A City-Led Process to Invest in High Impact Practices

USDN member communities are leading a process to identify High Impact Practices (HIPs) to help USDN and its partners increase impact through more strategic investments.

USDN has defined High Impact Practices as:

  • Practices with high aggregate impact potential across U.S. and Canadian cities (not a “must do” list for, nor necessarily even applicable to, every individual community).
  • Practices where cities are ready to make on-the-ground change in the next three years. Some may represent cutting edge advanced practices; others may represent established best practices with potential to scale much more widely.
  • Practices with high GHG reduction potential (members’ starting priority), each with potential to create other important benefits (e.g., resilience, equity, job creation).

Prioritized GHG Reduction High Impact Practices

Members identified 14 potential local government practices in fall 2018 to serve as near-term network priorities. Members are now strategizing on how USDN and partners could best help communities to accelerate progress in these areas.

Download HIPs Overview

High Impact Practices


1. Major Public Transit Investments - Make public transit investments that significantly enhance coverage, service quality, frequency, and/or speed (e.g., bond for major transit infrastructure).
2. Major Bike and Ped Investments - Expand and improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities, connectivity, convenience, and/or safety in a manner that significantly increases the % of trips taken by walking or biking.
3. Community Electric Vehicles Adoption - Require and encourage EV adoption through local codes, infrastructure planning, and promotion.
4. Autonomous Vehicles Planning - Establish strategy and/or policy to avoid negative GHG impacts and achieve positive GHG impacts of autonomous vehicles.

Energy Supply

5. Renewable Energy Procurement for Government Operations - Power government operations from renewable energy via on-site installation or off-site procurement.
6. Utility-Scale Renewable Energy - Engage local utility or community choice program (as applicable) to increase renewable energy offerings to all community members.
7. Community Installation of Renewable Electricity - Establish local incentives (e.g., solar rebates) and/or a bulk purchasing program (e.g., Solarize, community solar program) for on-site renewable energy at a scale catalyzing major new local investment.
8. State/Federal Advocacy on Energy Supply and Efficiency - Engage in state public utility commission (or equivalent agency) proceedings to advocate for significant renewable energy (e.g., via state RPS, net metering tariffs) and building energy efficiency standards and funding.

Building Energy Use

9. Electrification of Building Energy Systems - Develop a local strategy and enact programs to drive replacement of fossil fuel-fired space and water heating systems with high efficiency electric heat pump and similar technologies in new and existing buildings.
10. Energy Benchmarking for Large Buildings - Require large commercial and multi-family buildings to benchmark and report their energy performance.
11. Energy Upgrades at Trigger Events for Large Buildings - Require large commercial and/or multifamily buildings to perform energy upgrades achieving deep energy savings by a certain date or at certain trigger events (e.g., time of sale, change of occupancy).
12. Zero Net Energy in Private New Buildings - Adopt policies or programs to cause new buildings in the community to achieve near-zero net energy/fossil fuel-free performance.

Consumption and Waste Reduction

13. Organic Waste Management - Implement organics (food waste, yard waste) collection in commercial, single-family, and multi-family properties, including food waste collection in high- volume locations.
14. Construction Waste Management - Require recycling of construction and demolition waste.
USDN is also in the process of identifying additional high impact opportunities related to network priorities of equity and resilience.
While USDN members will continue to collaborate on a much broader range of issues, USDN will prioritize the selected HIPs when cultivating new partnerships, investments, and member learning opportunities.