EDITOR’S NOTE: We want to learn how other companies approach sustainability, so we’ve decided to publish a series of posts featuring innovative companies and people who are doing their part to support our planet. See below to read a guest blog from Yarcus Lewis, environmental sustainability coordinator for the City of Plano (in Texas).
What are the City of Plano’s sustainability goals, and what efforts have you made to achieve those goals?
Plano created the Sustainability and Environmental Services Department (SES) in 2006 and reorganized as a division of Environmental Health in 2013 as Sustainability & Environmental Education (SEED). SEED was tasked with educating the Plano community regarding sustainability and incorporating sustainable best practices into city government, local businesses, and the daily lives of our residents. Over the last eight years, there have been significant accomplishments and widespread adoption of sustainable practices. These accomplishments are highlighted by the Mayor at the annual Environmental Star of Excellence Awards.
Why is sustainability important to the City of Plano and how do city employees and Plano residents participate in your sustainability efforts?
Sustainability is important because the choices the City pursues and the actions that we make today will affect everything in the future. Plano needs to make sound decisions at present in order to avoid limiting the choices of generations to come.
We want to make choices that will keep Plano economically viable now and in the future. We want to be able to continue to offer the high quality and excellent services and programs that we are known for. Sustainable and smart economic infrastructure will help us to do that.
We want to conserve resources and protect environmental resources for future generations. We can do that through the way we design and construct our built environment, manage our open spaces and park lands, manage waste stream and promote energy and water efficiency and alternatives.
We want to ensure the overall well-being and health of those in our community by focusing on and developing programs that address those issues and needs.
A short list of our sustainability efforts includes:
- Eco Teens Program
- Smart Energy Loans
- Plano Solar Advocates
- LEED Certified Buildings
- Learn 2 Live Green Expo
- Clean Fleet Strategic Plan
- Plano Community Garden
- Nature Explore Classroom
- Energy Management Policy
- DIY Energy Toolkit Workshops
- Zero Waste Recycling Program
- Environmental Purchasing Policy
- Environmental Education Center
- Green Business Certification Program
- Mobile Source Pollution Reduction Policy
- Texas SmartScape \ Water Wise Garden Tour
- Live Green in Plano Volunteer Training Program
- Construction & Demolition Recycling Incentive Program
- Inaugural 2014 STAR Communities Leadership Program Selection
What advice would you give other companies who are trying to get their sustainability initiatives off the ground?
Our recipe has been:
- Executive commitment
- Passionate, knowledgeable, and sufficient level of staff
- Citizen support
- Grant writing
Are you a business?
To read about more businesses and people focused on sustainability, visit our “Sustainability Stories” archive by clicking here.