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Keene, Burlington, and Southeast Florida Counties Awarded for Sustainability Innovation

by Don Knapp

planning innovation award winners at LAS

From left to right: Jeb Brugmann, ICLEI's founding Secretary General; Susy Torriente,
Director, Office of Sustainability, Miami-Dade County, FL; Jennifer Green, Legacy
Project and Sustainability Coordinator, City of Burlington, VT; Rhett Lamb, Planning
Director, City of Keene, NH; Michelle Wyman, award presenter and former ICLEI USA
Executive Director

Congratulations to ICLEI’s three Sustainability Leadership Award winners in the Planning Innovation to Institutionalize Sustainability category. Long-term sustainability success requires making it part of the decision-making fabric of a local government—incorporated into the simplest operations to the highest-level policy decisions.

At our Local Action Summit, we honored City of Keene, NH, City of Burlington, VT, and the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact because of their ability to institutionalize sustainability into planning decisions. Read on for more details on each winner (in the small, medium, and large community categories, respectively).


City of Keene, NH, Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Planning

In 2007, the City of Keene participated in an ICLEI pilot project to analyze how the City could prepare for climate change impacts. The City viewed the innovative process as an opportunity to identify opportunities as well as threats.

Today, Keene has undertaken a step very few municipalities around the country (if any) have formally taken: the integration of climate adaptation and climate mitigation into the City’s Community Vision and Comprehensive Plan. Keene’s efforts have also created a strong culture in the community around sustainability and climate protection efforts.

Keene has been recognized as a pioneer in the adaptation world. Representatives have been invited to make presentations in Washington DC, throughout the Northeast, and internationally.

City of Burlington, VT: Composting in Fire Station #1

The City of Burlington is nationally known for a range of environmental programs, but in 2010, ICLEI recognizes the City because of its success in promoting sustainability principles across its governmental departments, including Fire Station #1 and its firefighters. Getting busy employees on board with climate and sustainability goals is not always easy, especially firefighters, who have a critical job to focus on.

Yet these hardworking first responders embraced the City government's composting efforts—which is a good thing, because Fire Station #1 generates more organic matter than any other Burlington downtown city government building. Burlington's Green Team provided waste reduction training to the firefighters and all downtown city staff, including information on what and how to compost. Compost bins were placed strategically throughout City buildings including in Fire Station #1. Equally important -- systems were put in place – including training and support to custodial staff – to ensure the long term success of the program.

As unlikely champions of this effort, Burlington's firefighters have helped pave the way for all City departments to incorporate composting and other sustainable behaviors into business as usual; their success serves as an inspiration to all local governments undertaking employee engagement around sustainability goals.

Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact

Southeast Florida, comprised of Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Monroe counties, is one of the most vulnerable regions in the United States to the impacts of climate change. A particular threat is sea level rise, which has already begun to overwhelm some of the local drainage systems.

In response, four participating counties endorsed a landmark agreement in 2009: the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. The Compact creates a framework for ongoing collaboration among the counties and a commitment to coordinate state and federal advocacy for responsible climate change policy that is protective of Southeast Florida’s long-term viability.

At the heart of the Compact is the design for an integrated climate action plan that will harmonize emissions reduction and adaptation strategies for human health and welfare, natural systems, and the regional economy. To this end, the process will include critical public and private sector stakeholders from across the four-county region. The regional climate action plan will augment similar efforts at the municipal and county levels by focusing on mitigation and adaptation strategies at a regional scale that individual cities and counties will not be able to achieve working on their own.

The compact serves as a national model for logical next steps for city- and county-scale efforts.

>> View Award Winners in All Categories

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