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Lisa Benton-Short and Melissa Keeley

Urban sustainability planning is a growing and important trend. As cities move towards sustainability they are confronted with how to integrate numerous and diverse challenges as varied as climate change, air and water quality, human health, affordable housing, energy, transportation and recreation. In this chapter, we identify four opportunities for urban scholars to advance and support urban sustainability planning and implementation: governance and integration; setting priorities; benchmarking, measuring and mapping; and equity and access. Keywords: cities, urbanization, sustainability, urban sustainability

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Lisa Benton-Short, Melissa Keeley and Jennifer Rowland

In recent years, US cities have begun to develop sustainability plans. The approach, content, and foci of these plans vary dramatically, and no template or articulated best practices exist for the creation of these plans. Green spaces such as parks, trees, and urban gardens can play a central role in sustainable planning exercises and the inclusion and use of urban green space in municipal planning is one way for municipalities to address multiple environmental, economic, and social sustainability issues simultaneously. We have utilized content analysis and coding of 20 municipal sustainability plans to gain insight into how US cities conceptualize urban green space. The chapter will examine the ways in which green space is organized in sustainability plans, the language used to discuss green space, how cities value the benefits that green spaces provide, and how cities integrate issues of social equity in green space planning. We conclude that many plans value green space for primarily environmental benefits, while issues of economic and social benefits and the equity with which they are distributed are less articulated. The chapter will also highlight selected best practices as a way to guide more effective green space planning. Keywords: best practices in planning, green space, parks, street trees, sustainability plans, urban gardens