A good Sustainability Plan is the first step towards creating a more sustainable city. A sustainability plan provides a framework that breaks down what could otherwise be an overwhelming list of issues and linkages into manageable pieces, conveys a vision for the future, sets realistic targets, and a plan for measuring progress and achieving community goals.
The attached documents provide a detailed framework for the process of creating a sustainability plan. The material is loosely adapted from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Communities
program and asks questions necessary for baseline analysis, projections, visioning, goal setting and implementation. It emphasizes community engagement throughout the planning process.
The importance of having a strong community engagement process during the development of a Sustainability Plan cannot be underestimated. Properly executed, a Sustainability Plan built by the community will enjoy the kind of enduring support necessary for implementation of long term goals. This support will also increase the likelihood that the plan and its funding will survive the administration and budgetary upheaval that all cities experience.
Plan updates executed every few years will remind past participants of the importance of the work while recruiting new participants and confirming the original plan goals. Additionally, regular updates are an opportunity to analyze progress and include technology improvements.
Volume #1 - Where Are We Now?
This volume will describe how to "take stock" of your community's assets - social, economic, and environmental by assessing various community conditions. This includes identifying your community's local characteristics such as geography, natural resources, population levels, political, civic, environmental and other institutions, as well as environmental conditions such as water quality, air quality, hazardous waste sites and other potential sources of pollution.
Volume #2 - Where Are We Going?
This volume will help to utilize your community assessment to help predict, based on current trends and activities, the direction that your community is headed. It allows community members to visualize their future if nothing is done to intervene. What can you expect if current patterns of land development, population change, natural resource consumption, and commercial and industrial activities continue? Are these trends sustainable?
Volume #3 - Where Do We Want to Be?
This volume will help to outline the visioning process, a process that focuses on where a community wants to be within a specified timeframe, whether 5, 10, 20 or 30 years down the road. Visioning empowers the community to move beyond the probable future scenarios developed in Step 2: "Where Are We Going?" Visioning can lead to the desired future of a healthy environment, a strong economy and a high quality of life. This volume helps to outline such a process and will aide in creating a Vision Statement, with one or more alternative "futures" proposed, "futures" aimed at achieving a sustainable community.
Volume #4 - How Do We Get There?
This volume will help to translate the Vision Statements created in Step 3 into a sustainability action plan that is relevant to the needs and goals of your community. It includes a framework for structuring short- and long-term action items, as well as methods to implement such a plan.