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Web site shares best practices for smarter cities and communities

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If you're not feeling very creative or smart about the most effective ways you can help your community do right by the planet, don't worry. Ten cities in California are happy to share their ideas.

If you're not feeling very creative or smart about the most effective ways you can help your community do right by the planet, don't worry. Ten cities in California are happy to share their ideas about how to green everything from a city's energy supply to water treatment. If you ARE feeling inspired, they are also happy to have you share your ideas.

The group, Green Cities California, has just flipped the switch on a web site that is billed as a best practices resource for cities, towns and municipal governments that are trying to build out their sustainability strategy. Currently, the site provides about 50 specific best practices for everything from water conservation to creating green zones to running zero waste programs or embracing more effective commuting polices.

There are another 65 best practices documents in the works, including those from out of state. If you have an idea you'd like to share, the site provides a forum for you to submit a best practice for review.

There are seven different areas covered on the site including Energy, Waste Reduction, Urban Design, Urban Nature, Transportation, Environmental Health and Water. These are all areas covered by the United Nations Urban Environmental Accord, which the organization follows.

Cities and counties in the Green Cities California collaborative currently include Berkeley, Los Angeles, Marin County, Pasadena, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Barbara and Santa Monica. Yes, I also have noticed that many of these cities are very large. I love the site but I'd also love to see some ideas from smaller towns and communities or at least a focus on ideas that smaller urban and suburban communities could embrace.

Collectively, those, these cities have already had an admirable impact on the environment. For example, Green Cities California members pledged to use only 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper in the spring of 2008. That action has helped the group divert more than 8.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and save more than 19.6 million gallons of water.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure