Making decisions that balance the needs of the environment, economy and society for both present and future generations is the goal of a cooperative sustainability program between the City of Lawrence and Douglas County. Sustainability Coordinator Eileen Horn spoke to Lawrence Central Rotary about that task and the recent Four Star Rating Award for the Lawrence community. The County and the City work together to achieve sustainability in operations, programs, and policies. Presently, the areas of cooperation include emergency services, conservation, local food systems, renewable energy, alternative transportation, green building, waste reduction, recycling and economic development. The Lawrence community is very supportive of sustainability. Eileen Horn works for the City and the County, both of which have advisory boards and sustainability plans. (LCR’s Michael Steinle serves on both boards.)
There are only a few local government sustainability programs in Kansas and Lawrence is the first community in the state to achieve a Four Star Rating. The award requires extensive documentation of achievements in numerous categories. Lawrence received over 95% the available points in the categories of greenhouse gas mitigation, education, emergency services, safety, air quality, public infrastructure, public spaces, business retention and development, efficient buildings and community water systems. The process also identifies areas that need more work, like climate adaptation, environmental justice, invasive species, quality jobs and living wages. The Lawrence community is a great place to live and an award winning sustainability program is a strong investment in the future. More information on the Star Award may be found at lawrenceks.org/star.