Research by Topic

Food & Sustainable Living

Making Sustainability Legal

Outdated Rules that Stop Affordable, Green Solutions

By Patrick Barber, with permission.

Some of the most innovative solutions for building thriving and sustainable communities in the Northwest are, at present, simply illegal. Current rules make it difficult to share bikes, find a cab, take toddlers on the bus, and hang a clothesline. Read more »

Indicator Update: Cascadian Life Expectancy Increases

Despite recent economic woes, northwesterners' health has improved.

life expectancy

The people of Cascadia are living longer than ever before—a sign of robust and improving health. As of 2012, Cascadians’ lifespans had grown to 80.5 years—an increase of more than 5 years since 1980. Unlike many other quality of life indicators in Cascadia, life expectancy has improved steadily for decades. These improvements show little sign of abating, as the toll from virtually every major cause of death continues to decline. Read more »

Indicator Update: A Modest Dip in Fertility

Teen births hit an all-time low.

fertility trend - Cascadia

Cascadia’s fertility rate—the average number of births over a woman’s lifetime, given current patterns of child-bearing—inched upwards in the mid-2000s, but declined again when the economy soured in 2008. Yet these trends were minor, compared with the massive fertility spike of the baby boom, when Northwest fertility rates peaked at nearly 4 lifetime births per woman. Since the mid-1970s fertility rates in the Northwest have remained comparatively stable, ranging between 1.8 and 2.0 total births over a woman’s lifetime. Read more »

Why Walk? The Benefits of Walkable Neighborhoods

Yield to Pedestrians sign

A growing body of research shows that walkable, compact communities can promote good health and a healthier planet by promoting exercise and reducing the risk of obesity; lowering car crash fatalities; reducing greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle-related air pollution; and cutting down gasoline bills and oil imports. Read more »

Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet

Everyday Things to Help Solve Global Warming

Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet book cover

What do a clothesline, a locally grown tomato, and a microchip have in common? According to Sightline’s book “Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet,” these are ordinary things that, with widespread use, can have an extraordinary impact on the fight against global warming, one of the most urgent challenges facing life on Earth in this century. Read more »

Solutions for Healthier Communities

Individuals and institutions can take simple steps to create compact, complete communities that enable residents to get around without a car and encourage physical activity and connections among neighbors. Read more »

More Parks, Less Parking

Bicyclists, tree, and cityscape

The gist: Easing requirements for parking—as some Northwest cities are doing—would make the price of parking reflect its true costs, make housing more affordable, and reward northwesterners for driving less. The details: Antiquated provisions in zoning and tax codes, along with misguided street designs, bloat the Northwest’s parking supply and glut the market. The 16 most populous Northwest counties and cities all require off-street parking; suburbs require even more parking than cities. Besides distorting the cost of driving, mandated parking lowers a community’s density by 10 to 30 percent, leaving residents dependent on their cars. In the Pacific Northwest, for … Read more »

Measure Gross National Happiness

Laughing boy

Society needs to measure happiness as carefully as we do financial indicators such as income or gross domestic product. And we need to use these measurements to shape public policy. Read more »

Use Solar and Windpower

Windmills on hillside

The gist: Shifting to renewable energy sources and reducing the amount of energy we waste are the keys to reducing the bloated impacts of industrial nations on the climate, our pocketbooks, and our security. The details: The humble clothesline is simple, silent, and completely nonpolluting. It takes few materials to manufacture and require no electricity or fuel to operate. Line-dried clothes smell fresh and have no static. And by letting the sun and wind do for free what dryers need electricity or gas for, clotheslines also save money. Clotheslines aren’t for everyone, of course–particularly in the wet Northwest–but they’re one … Read more »

Spread Clean Technology with Feebates

Still awaiting their Northwest debut, feebates are a novel combination of fees and rebates, designed to continuously tug the entire car and truck market toward better fuel efficiency. Read more »