This article from Grist looks at the city of Phoenix as it teams with Arizona State University to shift the city's direction from endless sprawl to a smarter, more environmentally-conscious growth pattern.
"These days, though, Phoenix is a less-natural shade of brown; a ring of smoggy pollution known locally as the Brown Cloud shadows the city. And that's not the only affront to the environs here. Anyone flying in can see the patches of fierce green lawns that paint the landscape, along with the swimming pools; the manmade lake in the suburb of Tempe, evaporating 452 million gallons of water each year; the sea of single family homes spilling across the desert; the traffic clogging the ribbons of highways; and the heat snakes squiggling from all that boiling bitumen. The 517-square-mile city -- the fifth-largest and fourth-fastest-growing in America -- just survived its second-driest winter on record and is deep in drought."
"So how is it that this poster child for sprawl and environmental ills is being hailed -- albeit by its own government -- as an exemplar of sustainability? City leaders are quick to tell anyone willing to listen that not only are they finally getting hip to environmental matters, they've been attending to some of them for upwards of thirty years. From using cleaner fuels in their fleet of trucks and buses to implementing an environmental purchasing program, from building a new 20-mile light-rail line to signing the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, officials have taken concrete steps to right past wrongs."