By Tyler Falk
Posting in Cities
Three U.S. cities were awarded for their strong sustainability initiatives.
But when it comes to sustainability, the town of 7,727, located about 50 miles from Washington, D.C., is one to keep an eye on.
That's according to the 2012 Sustainable Community Awards, given out annually by Siemens and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC), to three cities that have shown economic, environmental, and quality of life successes in the past year.
The judges of the award cited these reasons for honoring the three winners:
- Chicago: The Chicago Climate Action Plan (CCAP) – The city’s sustainable action plan, launched in 2008 with the intent of reducing greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050, has set the standard for large-city environmental planning, inspiring and supporting community engagement through highly successful grassroots movements by local Chicagoans, including: The Green Office Challenge, My Action Plan (the web-based sustainability planning tool); and The Energy Action Network.
- Santa Monica: Local programs have redefined the way communities engage their residents to meet local sustainability needs. Some favorite components include: I Am Santa Monica – an interactive program to engage local businesses and their employees; The Bicycle Center – the nation’s largest ever bike center; and the Green Building Program, which promotes high standards of sustainability for Santa Monica’s built environment.
- Purcellville, Va.: The “Go Green Purcellville” campaign has been developed to meet the highest standards for all levels of sustainability planning for a small community; from ensuring clean drinking water with minimal waste, a bold open-spaces protection plan, LED lighting throughout the community and streamlined recycling programs.
Finalists for the award included Boston, Las Vegas, Jersey City, Riverside, Calif., Middleton, Wis., River Falls, Wis. The list isn't exactly comprehensive, though. Only 135 cities applied for the award. So while you can't say Purcellville (or the others two winners) is the most sustainable city, it's definitely a leader in its category. Still, it's always good to see cities being recognized for making sustainability a top priority.
“More and more cities are realizing that sustainability initiatives are important levers for economic growth and competitiveness today,” said Alison Taylor, Siemens’ Chief Sustainability Officer for the Americas. “People and businesses want to grow in sustainable environments, and the cities are now working hard to provide this.”
Apr 17, 2012
The plans and programs you say that Purcellville is implementing may be true. HOWEVER, there is more to the story. There seems to be a plan afoot to remove the historic core of the town--many of the old if not original buildings in the only "downtown" Purcellville has--in order to satisfy a developer who wants to build a four story hotel. The argument: it encourages tourism and tourists spend money. Of course, the only things tourists come to Purcellville to see is the historic downtown. Smart planning just went out the window. Of course, removing perfectly useful, occupied, productive buildings is hardly sustainable either. Also, Purcellville has condemned some property on the east edge of town to build a road. The condemned property is the center of a working, organic, productive family farm that has been there for several centuries. Is that action sustainable? Is it "green?" Finally, the town endorsed the construction of a shopping mall that replaced another family farm that was serving admirably as open space. Assuming that most of the storefronts are evenually occupied (something that seems a bit far-fetched at the moment), the traffic to/from the mall will overwhelm the road system in the area. Sooner or later the roads will have to be widened, taking even more open space. Why? To please a developer. BTW: the town is running out of water too. Of course, development and open space destruction are things that the Chamber of Commerce can get behind. No wonder they picked Purcellville for the award. Makes you wonder how justified the other picks were.