U.S. Chamber recognizes local sustainabilityThree representatives from River Falls sat among other finalists during the Siemens Sustainable Community Awards presentation made at the April 16-18 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center reception in Atlanta.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
Three representatives from River Falls sat among other finalists during the Siemens Sustainable Community Awards presentation made at the April 16-18 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center reception in Atlanta.
Former mayor Don Richards, Fellow of the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development Ian Johnson, and St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity Director Jim Farr attended the event for River Falls.
Richards’ connection is his green-minded leadership and various efforts throughout eight years in office.
Farr attended to represent one of the major, local projects that contribute to River Falls’ overall sustainability -- the Habitat EcoVillage.
Johnson, a staff member at the UW-River Falls-based SCISCD, completed the award-nomination application.
He said he had lots of input from Richards, as well as Community Development and Planning Director Buddy Lucero and the city’s Conservation and Efficiency Coordinator, Mike Noreen.
Johnson said the application was “exceptionally involved” and required substantial details about the city’s comprehensive plan. He had about a week to prepare the nomination, which also required video footage and photos for viewing at the reception.
“I was elated when I received the call that we were a finalist,” said Johnson, who says there are a lot of good things happening in River Falls. “Being selected as one of three finalists in the nation really gives credence to everyone’s efforts these past several years.”
River Falls made the prestigious list of nominees for sustainability in the small-community category, which is open to cities with a population of 50,000 people or fewer.
Information from BCLC says the finalists and winners were selected from among 132 communities from 40 states, all of which are “applauded for their focus on a multi-disciplinary approach to sustainability which has positively impacted local businesses and enhanced the quality of life among citizens.”
A judging panel of five academic, community development and media professionals selected three finalists in each of three categories, which also include midsize and large communities.
“The awards show just how much the concept of sustainability has evolved for U.S. municipalities,” said U.S. Chamber BCLC Founder and Director Stephen Jordan, referencing the three 2012 award winners. “Chicago, Santa Monica (Calif.) and Purcellville, Va., show that getting sustainability right improves quality of life, the efficient use of resources, competitiveness and attractiveness for residents and visitors.”
As part of the award, the three winner cities receive $20,000 worth of trees.
Other finalists for the large community category include Boston and Las Vegas. Jersey City, NJ, as well as Riverside, Calif., also qualified as mid-size community finalists. Along with River Falls and the small-community award winner, Middleton, Wisc., also made the list of nominees.
Now in its 5th year, the awards program honors communities dedicated to improving their overall sustainability through environmental, economic, and social solutions. The BCLC and Siemens, a global electronics and electrical engineering firm, created the awards to recognize communities that are proactive in improving quality of life and being good stewards to their environment.
In its lead-up literature to the event, BCLC says it recognizes River Falls for several characteristics related to sustainability, mainly its official Comprehensive Plan that has 13 overall themes that incorporate most aspects of sustainable living.
The description mentions the green-certified City Hall, the utility’s full-time energy-conservation coordinator and the sustainable energy project POWERful Choices.
It also says River Falls was the first community in the Midwest to achieve the status of being an EPA Green Power Partner Community. It says 6% of the city’s municipal customers choose to participate in a renewable energy program, ranked the 5th highest nationally.
The city also gains respect for its protection of the Kinnickinnic River through exceptional stormwater standards and education, as well as a groundbreaking ban on phosphorous fertilizer.
The BCLC gave information about the winning attributes of the award recipients.
Purcellville, Va. practices proactive use of land and natural resources, as well as having “go green” goals incorporated as part of its comprehensive sustainability plan.
Santa Monica, Calif. became award worthy through setting strategic citywide goals that are reinforced across multiple planning areas including resource conservation, economic growth, open space and land use, housing, transportation, civic participation and human services.
Chicago made the ranks with a multi-stakeholder approach to implementing the Chicago Climate Action Plan, as part of the city’s efforts to integrate sustainability throughout Chicago and its government. Area businesses, advocacy groups, philanthropists, utilities, government offices, museums and restaurants all play a part in achieving results.
The BCLC is a U.S. Chamber resource and voice for businesses’ social and philanthropic interests; its mission is to advance the positive role of business in society.
Learn more about the awards online at: http://sustainablecommunity.uschamber.com.