Small Green Initiatives add up to Big Green Savings in North Stonington
New Haven Independent, Sept. 13, 2019
By CCM staff
Sustainability is not something that happens only on the federal level or on the personal level. On the municipal level, we have Sustainable CT, created in partnership with the Institute of Sustainable Energy and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM).
On this week’s episode of CCM’s The Municipal Voice, we brought on Lynn Stoddard, the Executive Director of Sustainable CT and the director of the Institute of Sustainable Energy, and First Selectman Mike Urgo of North Stonington to talk about the path to sustainability set out by Sustainable CT.
Members amount to 88 towns and cities, or over 50% of Connecticut’s municipalities. This program was created by municipalities and for municipalities to see a path towards sustainability, with, as Lynn Stoddard says, things that are under the control and influence of the town.
Each municipality works towards certification by gaining points through actions. And while there are many obvious green initiatives, Stoddard, who was instrumental in creating this program, said “municipal leaders wanted it to be broad, you can’t be certified just because of energy efficiency.”
One example is the equity actions, “required and foundational,” which has municipalities look at who is at the table and who is not at the table when making decisions. This helps a town see the full breadth of who sustainability is helping and who it is not.
A walk audit back to top
In North Stonington, First Selectman Urgo said they had just completed a walk audit, which identified things such as unsafe crossing areas for school children, ridges that might prevent wheelchairs from using the sidewalk, and bike lanes.
This is especially true about the Greater Village Area, where many of the town buildings are located, where they were able to have a conversation with the community about what they need.
“The walk audit gave us some data to look at,” Urgo said, “and say how are we doing?”
Naturally, there are traditional goals, such as solar. North Stonington has been working on putting solar on all municipal buildings, which the First Selectman says they plan to have installed by the end of this year.
The benefits are green and they are economic, but they also make a difference for all the residents of Connecticut. Both Stoddard and Urgo are optimistic, the First Selectman saying that the program “speaks to what our community is about.”
For a program that counts over 50% of municipalities as members, the difference made is cumulative.
“We can see the collective impact of the Sustainable CT municipalities,” Stoddard says, “you can really move the needle.”
Actions in Sustainable CT are accomplished by Connecticut residents, in their municipalities, and those actions align with sustainable goals the state has set. “I hope we’ll see more and more towns [join],” the First Selectman said, “so we can make a difference in our state of Connecticut.”