Survey: Local governments slowly adopting sustainability initiatives
While communities across the nation are increasingly conscious of sustainability issues, many are still at the beginning stages of turning green-focused priorities into concrete actions related to sustainability and energy conservation, according to a new survey released Thursday by the Washington-based International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Most have not adopted official energy conservation goals, assigned dedicated staff to sustainability efforts or established sustainability benchmarks, according to the survey.
The survey, which includes the responses of 2,176 local governments from throughout the nation, found that 70 percent of respondents called energy conservation a priority (46 percent) or a high priority (24 percent). Similarly, nearly two-thirds of respondents (62 percent), consider the environment a priority, including 21 percent of respondents calling it a high priority. “While there is near shared agreement in the desire to create more sustainable communities, putting goals into action is a larger challenge,” says ICMA’s Director of Sustainability Tad McGalliard.
When asked what specific planning actions related to sustainability and energy conservation they had taken, only 29 percent had adopted a resolution outlining specific policy goals. Additionally, a minority of respondents had assigned dedicated staff to sustainability efforts (27 percent); established specific sustainability benchmarks (19 percent); established or appointed a task force to address sustainability issues (28 percent); or provided a budget specifically for their sustainability efforts (16 percent). Only 14 percent had established greenhouse gas limits for the local government, less than 10 percent for the community-at-large, and only about 3 percent for local businesses.
However, 45 percent of localities have a plan for tree preservation and planting. A strong majority (63 percent) of respondents had conducted energy audits of government buildings, 56 percent had upgraded or retrofitted office lighting, and 44 percent had increased the purchase of fuel-efficient government vehicles.
Download the full Sustainability Survey 2010.