Charleston, S.C., and Fayetteville, Ark., are testing a new program offered by the Atlanta-based Home Depot Foundation's Sustainable Cities Institute (SCI). SCI's three-year City Program will provide each city with $500,000 to support their proposed sustainability initiatives, and the success and failures of those initiatives will be tracked online.

Charleston's pilot program, Charleston SAVES, aims to provide energy efficiency services to any building owner in the city that does not qualify for federal weatherization assistance. Fayetteville will build approximately 50 Energy Star-certified homes for low-income families in Willow Bend, one of the most economically depressed areas in the city.

Along with the $500,000 in funding from The Home Depot Foundation, SCI will provide the cities with a full-time local coordinator to assist with implementation efforts and ongoing technical assistance from sustainability experts. At the end of the program, specific and measurable sustainability goals are expected to have been achieved. "The term 'sustainability plan' often leads to skepticism or indifference, and we want to demonstrate through these pilot cities that real efficiencies and budget savings can be achieved by proactive planning in areas like energy use, waste and recycling, and building maintenance," said Kelly Caffarelli, The Home Depot Foundation president.

The results of the program will be shared weekly at www.sustainablecitiesinstitute.org.