A sustainable cities pep talk
By Nick Hartrich, Cascadia Green Building Council
Cascadia Green Building Council
Nick Hartrich is the advocacy and outreach manager for the Cascadia Green Building Council in Portland. You can reach him at Nicholas.firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-228-5533, ext. 2#.
Four years ago, a small team of dedicated and highly motivated municipal staff launched a Green Tools program to help cities in the state of Washington maintain and enhance their green building efforts, especially those with limited resources.
The project began as a casual meeting of city staff, primarily planners, from Seattle and 38 other cities in Washington. The group hosted regular "train-the-trainer" sessions on best green building practices to equip city officials with tools to develop and advance local green building programs.
The collaboration has been a tremendous success, resulting in the development of new green building programs. In early 2007, just five out of 38 participating cities had green building programs. Now there are 19, with five more in the process of formalizing.
So, what does that type of government leadership look like in play?
Take the small city of Bellingham, Wash., for example. A leader in innovative policy that supports local business, fast-track permitting for LEED, cash incentives for low-impact development retrofits and reduced fees for transit-oriented development. It adds up to progressive policy for a city known for "subdued excitement."
So why is it that the biggest municipal success story from Bellingham to hit the press in 2012 was the most unlikely? Leadership. A Public Works’ staff member who was curious to try something new and creative placed 400 would-be-land filled-toilets (combined with recycled aggregate) in a sidewalk to form the worlds first "Poticrete." This unique blend landed Bellingham the world’s first Green Roads certification and much national press.
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