How Your Community Can Become an Environmental Sustainability Policy Example
There is a growing interest in environmentally sustainable solutions for communities. Canada has developed a set of environmental strategies to move towards becoming a sustainable country, and many communities lead the pack.
Four Reasons to Care About Environmental Sustainability
- Population: From 1961-2001, the world’s population doubled to 6.2 billion people. By 2050, it is predicted the population of the world will be 9 billion.
- Climate Change: There is strong evidence that most of the global warming observed over the last 50 years can be attributed to human activities.
- Energy Consumption: Trends indicate that by 2055, energy consumption will have tripled since 1998.
- Ecological Diversity: It has been recorded that in the second half of the 20th century over 300,000 species became extinct.
How Your Community Can Be Environmentally Sustainable
Most of us understand how we got to where we are today, but fixing those problems can feel overwhelming. Here are some strategies that can be implemented in any community, regardless of size.
- Invest in a Community Renewable Energy Option: There have been lots of companies and communities that have invested in solar power. However a new option for some communities is a gasification system, which turns waste into energy.
- Encourage Residents to Retrofit Homes with Energy Efficient Solutions: Residents and business owners can play a part in sustainability by choosing to retrofit their homes or businesses with energy efficient lighting, and decrease water use by installing low flow toilets or showers.
- Set Community Energy and Water Use Goals: Setting goals as a community shows residents the importance of working as a team to move towards sustainability.
- Create a Car-Sharing Service: Transportation is an important issue - especially in communities that do not have access to consistent and dependable public transportation. Consider starting or supporting a car-sharing service so there are fewer cars on the road. As an added incentive, it has been found there was an increase in walking and biking in communities with a car-sharing service.
- Build Community Gardens and Composting: While many are taking part in the “Grow Food Not Lawns” movement, communities can also jump on board by coordinating communal gardens and compost exchanges.
Toronto has reduced greenhouse gases by 25% since 1990, despite an increase in population.
Before starting any projects, conducting proper market research is essential in order to understand the unique needs of your community.
Create an Environmental Sustainability Policy Example of Your Own
Some communities are taking sustainability into their own hands and serve as environmental sustainability policy examples we can learn from.
In Ottawa, all new buildings must be designed and delivered in accordance with the Certified performance level of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System. Some of the goals of this system are:
- To reduce landfill requirements by encouraging the reuse and recycling of construction, renovation and demolition materials.
- To ensure that existing infrastructure is being used by encouraging renovation and redevelopment within the City core.
- To encourage increased ridership on existing public transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.
Corning, New York
Corning, New York used an opportunity to restore and rebuild their Main Street while keeping historical architecture and sustainability practices in mind. The community supported their historic Main Street district by providing free signage and facade design advice to businesses, and supporting residential development and the rehabilitation of the district buildings. The community also provided educational resources and programs for historic preservation. Corning embraced the following examples of sustainability:
- With the installation of a pedestrian bridge, bike racks and shorter block lengths, Corning encouraged walking and biking on Main Street, helping to reduce emissions caused by cars and buses.
- Corning made a point to integrate nature throughout the town such as a green stormwater infrastructure, and a properly-scaled park.
- To encourage walkability, there are many residences close to the Main Street, hoped to reduce greenhouse emissions and create a stronger sense of community.
The City of Toronto ranked first in North America and ninth globally among the world’s most sustainable cities for its environmental practices. These practices include energy use and renewables, air pollution reduction, waste management, and safe drinking water.