Sustainability Action Plan
The purpose of a Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) is to create an open, transparent and participatory dialogue between the City, community members, business members, and other key area partners concerning the City’s commitment to implement factors related to the triple bottom line: economic, environmental and social. The success of our city rests in the coordination and cooperation between public, private and nonprofit organizations, and community members. By implementing sustainable practices, the City will improve the community’s quality of life, and work to retain and attract more residents and businesses. The City must lead the effort to engage all segments of the community—residents, businesses, institutions, and government — in working together and taking responsibility for reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, participating in climate planning and policy development, and adopting a longer-range perspective that will help the City to adapt as knowledge of climate change grows.
To provide a quick summary of what spurred the creation of the City’s SAP we look first to the signing of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2007. Shortly thereafter, the Office of Sustainability was created in 2008 to address climate, environmental, and conservation initiatives. In order to systematically address sustainability on a City-wide scale, a Plan, and a carbon emissions baseline from which to measure these efforts was necessary.
The approach to this process was first to reach out to the public which was accomplished through the three e4 Sustainability Summits starting in 2009 as well as gain information from community workshops relating to what type of plan (Sustainability/Climate/Adaptation) the City should be developing. In the fall of 2010, the City released an RFP requesting consulting services in the development of the City’s first Sustainability Action Plan along with establishment of the City’s carbon emissions baseline. The City chose the law firm of Lewis Longman and Walker, P.A. and its sub-consultants to assist in this process.
With fossil fuel use and resulting GHG emissions being the primary drivers of global climate change, the City also recognizes the quality of life and economic benefits of becoming more sustainable which are also contributing factors to the development of this SAP. The City has a shared, collaborative responsibility for becoming a sustainable city. The SAP is a “roadmap to sustainability” cutting across all City Departments and Divisions as well as outlining strategies for the community to become more sustainable too.
To develop the SAP, the Team completed a GHG inventory for City Facilities and Operations as well as the overall community reflecting a baseline year of 2008 energy use. Input for the plan was also derived from the work of the City Green Task Force’s two year effort resulting in a robust document with various recommendations and action items. The SAP includes 7 focus areas that address various aspects of the City’s built and natural environment as well as social implications of climate change and overall sustainability.
These focus areas include:
- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Natural resource and Water Conservation
- Land Use, Redevelopment, and Transportation
- Housing and Green Building Codes
- Waste Management and Recycling
- Growing a Green Economy
- Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens
The SAP has four main sections:
- History and Approach to the SAP
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory (Government Operations and Community)
- Goals, Actions, Indicators for each of the Focus Areas
- Measurement and Reporting of Success through an Implementation Plan
WPB Rethink Paradise: Sustainability Action Plan Adopted
Rethink Paradise: West Palm Beach Sustainability Action Plan
- For government buildings and operations, emissions dropped by 11 percent, from 81,834 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂e) in 2008 to 72,489 metric tons in 2013. This reduction is equivalent to the emissions from the electricity use in 1,285 homes. The City is well on track to meet or potentially exceed our reduction target of 19 percent by 2018.
- At the community scale, emissions decreased by five percent, from 5,513,890 metric tons of CO2e in 2008 to 5,256,748 in 2013. This shows an overall improvement for West Palm Beach. In fact, all sectors decreased and community emissions are trending lower than forecasted compared to a Business As Usual (BAU) scenario from 2008. However, to meet the reduction targets established in the City’s Sustainability Plan, it is clear that the City will need to target improvements at the community scale, especially with regard to transportation, the largest source of emissions at the community scale.