2011 Sustainable Community Awards

2011 Interactive News Release

Finalists for Large Community Category

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland, is honored for its development of innovative solutions to tackle significant urban environmental challenges such as combating climate change, conserving energy and water, preserving land and habitat, promoting public transportation, and community redevelopment.

The Baltimore Sustainability Plan was officially implemented by the City Council in 2009. The Sustainability Plan laid out 29 sustainability plan goals in the areas of cleanliness, pollution prevention, resource conservation, greening, transportation, education and awareness, and a green economy.

The Sustainability Plan has resulted in a 6.5 percent reduction in energy use by the City Government, recycling programs have produced a cost savings of $7M, and an increase in tree canopy from 27% to 40% over 30 years. Additionally, a citywide energy supply plan will be introduced to identify ways government and community members can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and incorporate renewable energy to the maximum extent possible.

Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio, is honored for its Get Green Columbus initiative. The Green Team of the Get Green Columbus initiative meets bimonthly and is made up of 35 community and business leaders. The Green Team is further supported by working groups focusing on transportation, growth and development, education and engagement, energy, and business and green building.

The initiative has developed the Central Ohio Green Pact and recruited 27 other local communities to join and is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 2 percent per year until 2030.  It has established an Executive Order to reduce paper usage and establish an office recycling program, and has adopted a comprehensive Bikeways Plan, a Green Fleet Action Plan, and an Air Quality Alert Action Plan.

San José, California

San José, California, is honored for its Green Vision program. The program is a bold roadmap intended to model how innovation and environmental responsibility can strengthen economic opportunity and can, in fact, be vital catalysts for spurring prosperity.

San José’s Green Vision is a 15-year plan that outlines goals for economic growth, environmental sustainability, and an enhanced quality of life for the community. The city is actively partnering with the residents, local nonprofits, regional organizations, and businesses to achieve these goals by 2022 and to create a sustainable and prosperous city for present and future generations.

Key accomplishments of the program to date include: the installation of solar panels at city facilities with annual savings nearing $1 million; installing over 15 MW of solar energy production in San José–the highest number of solar installations in northern California; a national leader in green building policies; acquiring over $30 million in federal grants to expand the recycled water system; and establishing a comprehensive Community Forestry program.

Finalists for Midsize Community Category

North Little Rock, Arkansas

North Little Rock, Arkansas, is honored for a sustainability program which effectively connects a green economy with economic development. The city has taken steps to ensure that business leaders and residents have the tools and the opportunities to live and grow sustainably.

North Little Rock’s strategy of “think global, act local” and its belief that sustainable climate change initiatives must begin with the individual citizen, resulted in substantial greenhouse gas reductions, quality-of-life improvements, and job creation. The city’s sustainable community strategies support responsible revitalization of downtown businesses and neighborhoods; stimulating new riverfront development, restaurants, shopping, and leisure entertainment centers; attracting new industries; enhancing the city’s parks and recreational facilities; increasing the population base; expanding trail and transportation options; becoming a healthy community by promoting good nutrition and healthy lifestyles; and encouraging citizens and businesses to take an active role in the city’s future.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is honored for a variety of sustainability projects that promote economic development and investment.

In the 1990s, Pittsburgh pioneered green building, creating the Green Building Alliance, the first U.S. Green Building Council affiliate. Pittsburgh is among the top 10 U.S. cities with LEED certified buildings, home to many LEED “firsts,” and a center of technical expertise, with 500+ local LEED accredited professionals.

One of Pittsburgh’s most visible commitments to sustainability and a major contributor to an improved quality of life for residents, is the redevelopment of Pittsburgh’s riverfront through the reclamation and redevelopment of brownfield sites and over $4 billion in local riverfront investment. The Pittsburgh Climate Initiative is committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 2003 levels by 2023. In 2008, Pittsburgh’s greenhouse gas emissions totaled 6.8 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), 3 percent coming from city government operations.

Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina, is honored for its sustainability program, which is the cornerstone of the Raleigh’s vision to be a “21st Century City of Innovation.”

Through partnerships and networks, the city demonstrates strategic thinking about sustainability goals and outcomes. Its citizens have envisioned and developed integrated/complementary land‐use projects; ensured open space is available throughout the city and accessible to all community sectors; and developed innovative pilot programs to enhance the city’s sustainability goals.

Raleigh values sustainability as a way to enhance the local business environment by creating a multi‐agency Economic Development Group comprised of city staff, businesses, and nonprofits and incorporating multiple partnerships and stakeholders.
The city has demonstrated positive economic results related to sustainability. Some of these accomplishments include the LEED Silver Convention Center, AAA Bond rating, $4.5+ million in federal/state grants to create multiple projects, and being the first municipality in the nation to partner with the Environmental Defense Fund for Climate Corps program.

Finalists for Small Community Category

Brea, California

Brea, California, is honored for its energy efficiency and solar power project which utilizes three separate solar installations in conjunction with efficiency improvements at 14 different city facilities covering almost 1 million square feet. The program also includes the retrofitting of 4,000 street lights. The project is estimated to result in at least $2.6 million of energy cost savings in just the first five years. It is estimated that improvements can offset 86,884 metric tons of CO2 emissions over its projected 25-year life span. This is equivalent to eliminating at least one car from every household in Brea.

Additional estimates include that over the life of the energy project, $13 million in net savings will become available to return into the local economy.

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont, is honored for the Burlington Legacy Action Plan. The plan calls for the carefully designed economic growth of the city, while maintaining the city’s commitment to the things that makes it a special place in which to live, work, and raise a family.

The Burlington legacy plan focuses on the “4 E’s of sustainability”—environmental health, economic vitality, quality education, and social equity. This is best exemplified in the work of the Burlington Electric Department (BED), the city’s municipal energy provider. BED strives to reduce and conserve energy while providing high-quality service to residents and businesses.  Their work not only reduces carbon; BED also saves consumers money and enhances the city’s economy. This is done through a wide offering of energy efficiency opportunities including incentives, rebates, and free energy audits.

Greensburg, Kansas

Greensburg, Kansas, is honored for its collaborative efforts to rebuild the city following the devastation of an EF-5 tornado. The town’s infrastructure and public buildings were completely destroyed, and 95 percent of all the homes and businesses were ruined. Nine Greensburg residents lost their lives that evening.

As Greensburg began to rebuild, its citizens were committed to do so greener, stronger,
And better with an aggressive and progressive eye to their future. Now, less than four years later, they are proving their resilience, integrity, and ingenuity with the implementation of a community-based comprehensive sustainable master plan.

The sustainability plan has resulted in more than 500 homes built in the community, representing the most LEED platinum buildings per capita in the world, and an on-site wind farm that produces more energy than any other of its kind in the world. The commitment to “green” sustainable living and a healthy environment is embedded in every decision the City Council members make—from new building materials to communication systems to recycling.

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