Survey says local governments talk sustainability but don’t act

Oct. 13, 2010
ICMA released a survey that indicates many communities are giving sustainability more attention, but many are only in the beginning stages of the process and few have turned concerns into actions.

VISTA, CALIF. -- The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) recently released a survey that indicates many communities across America are giving sustainability issues considerably more attention, but many are only in the beginning stages of the process and few have actually turned concerns into actions. The survey includes the responses of more than 2,100 key administrators of local governments throughout the country. Among the more notable survey findings include:

· 70% indicated "energy conservation" was a priority issue for their local government with 24% indicating it was a high priority.

  • Yet, only 29% had adopted programs or resolutions related to sustainability and energy conservation.
  • Only 14% have established greenhouse gas emission limits for their local governments and less than 10% for the entire community.
  • There appears to be slightly more concern when it comes to water issues: 34% indicated they have taken actions to conserve water; 33% have adopted a water price structure that encourages conservation; and 28% have established incentives to encourage conservation.
"It is gratifying that these communities are taking more significant steps to conserve water," says Klaus Reichardt, president and founder of Waterless® Co, Inc., makers of waterless urinal systems. "However, they should also realize that [improving] water conservation also bolsters energy conservation." According to Reichardt, the state of California estimates that 19% of its energy use is needed just to move water to and from facilities. "And, 23% of natural gas use is [used] to move water as well." Finally, the survey also found that 10% of the localities now require all new government facilities to meet or exceed LEED or Energy Star certification; 8% require that these standards be met for all government building renovations.

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