First Advisor

Charles Heying

Term of Graduation

Spring 2008

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies




Sustainable urban development -- Pacific Coast (U.S.), Community development, Urban -- Environmental aspects -- Pacific Coast (U.S.), Urbanization -- Environmental aspects -- Pacific Coast (U.S.), Municipal government -- Pacific Coast (U.S.)



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, vii, 303 pages)


This is a study of what can be learned from leading U.S. cities about their work on environmental sustainability program efforts and what that information suggests for other cities considering a move into the environmental sustainability arena. The study focuses on green building and buying programs.

This is an exploratory study aimed at determining if detailed information, recommended for pursuit by Portney (2003), is available regarding: (a) how individual city sustainability programs got started; (b) how they maintain or fail to maintain themselves; (c) what they have been able to achieve programmatically; and (d) how effectively they have accomplished environmental improvements.

Data was collected about city initiatives in five West-Coast cities: (1) Seattle, Washington; (2) Portland, Oregon; (3) San Francisco, California; (4) San Jose, California; and (5) Santa Monica, California. Green building and green buying program areas were selected as two different programmatic approaches expected to utilize different policy tools. The specific data that this study collects is in the form of: (a) Program Profiles; (b) Program Aggressiveness Ratings; (c) Personal Interviews; (d) Program Inputs; and (e) Program Outputs.

Trends and patterns were identified within and between program inputs, outputs, and aggressiveness ratings. Some trends were detected, but what the analysis of data suggests for other cities is unclear unless the analysis goes beyond the data specific findings to a set of macro-level findings that incorporate the multiple pieces of information gathered for this study.

This study makes multiple contributions to the body of knowledge about sustainability efforts in U.S. cities, as well as contributing an original rating system for program aggressiveness. The findings focus on: (a) the streams that have given green building and green buying programs momentum; (b) simultaneous and cumulative use of multiple policy tools in each program area; (c) the role of competition and collaboration in government policy diffusion; (d) differences in green building and green buying programs; (e) the role that Diffusion of Innovation Theory might play in designing programs; and (f) what the implications might be for cities designing new programs.


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