Identifying tips and practices for a more sustainable future



Municipalities get recognition for sustainability at many levels

Washington, DC – Recognition programs that award achievement in sustainability continue to grow. There are programs recognizing companies and businesses, buildings, infrastructure projects, schools – and yes, cities and communities. In addition to well-known national recognition programs like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Sustainable Communities Awards, as well as STAR Communities and LEED for Cities that provide a framework for measuring the sustainability of cities and communities across an array of metrics, many states and cities have developed their own recognition programs for communities and neighborhoods.

Sustainable CT was developed by leaders from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, key government agencies, non-profits, businesses, and the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University. The program provides a framework within which any municipality in the state can implement actions that earn points toward certification and provides opportunities for grant funding to help communities participate.

Minnesota GreenStep Cities developed out of direction from the Minnesota State Legislature that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Division of Energy Resources at the Minnesota Department of Commerce recommend actions cities could take on a voluntary basis to achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. This free continuous improvement program, managed by a public-private partnership, is based upon 29 best practices tailored to all Minnesota cities and focused on cost savings, energy use reduction, and civic innovation.

Sustainable Jersey evolved from the efforts of the College of New Jersey, the New Jersey League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, who were all working on sustainable community related initiatives. The four parties came together to establish a program focused on reducing waste, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and improving environmental equity. Now a nonprofit organization Sustainable Jersey, provides tools, training and financial incentives to support communities as they pursue sustainability programs.

The Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification, a project of the Pennsylvania Municipal League and Sustainable Pittsburgh, is a voluntary performance recognition program to help municipalities achieve their sustainability goals to save money, conserve resources, and encourage innovation. Focused on municipal operations, policies, and practices, the certification also serves as a mechanism for sharing best practices.

The KC Green Neighborhood Recognition Program, part of Kansas City’s KC Green initiative, recognizes those neighborhoods in Kansas City, MO that have implemented sustainable practices within their community, such as reducing stormwater runoff and providing residents greater access to local foods. Neighborhoods selected for recognition receive neighborhood signage; acknowledgment of their efforts in city publications and on the city’s cable channel; and access to sustainability workshops.

The Sustainable Neighborhood Network, developed by the City of Lakewood, CO and intended to encourage direct citizen action, is a certification program for enhancing neighborhood sustainability and reducing the environmental footprint of residents. Using guidance from city/county staff, eight neighborhoods in Lakewood and 14 neighborhoods in Denver have achieved recognition through the program.

For resources and tools related to sustainability, visit the Center for Sustainability (C4S) site and C4S Toolkit.