On behalf of the APWA Center for Sustainability (C4S), I am thrilled to launch our monthly blog. This is just another way that we are reaching out to the APWA Membership to share resources and best practices as we strive towards our mission to build the skills, knowledge, and tools for APWA members to exercise sustainable leadership in their communities.

 

Each month we will focus on a specific theme and will provide thoughts and links to resources related to that topic. If there is a topic you want to make sure is covered, please contact Anne Jackson at ajackson@apwa.net.

 

As many of you know, May is the Sustainability issue of the APWA Reporter. It also happens to be the month of Public Works Week- coincidence? I think not! More and more of our members are recognizing that sustainability must be an integral part of the daily operations of Public Works Professionals. Whether it's keeping our team members safe on the job, ensuring our budgets can support the day-to-day while still maintaining an emergency fund, or striving to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and minimize our impact on a changing climate, sustainability principles can be a useful tool to guide public works operations.

 

There are some great articles in this month’s Reporter that will help you think about integrating sustainability into your operations whether through leadership (see Leadership by Discipline: Sustainability, page 38) or through planning (see Sustainability Plans in public works agencies, page 66).

 

C4S has identified climate change as the theme for May. Understanding and preparing for a changing climate is an imperative for public works agencies and for sustainable communities. They say knowledge is power and while we cannot predict exactly where and when the next extreme weather event will occur, science has shown us that more greenhouse gas emissions equal more unstable climate conditions. So there are two things we can (and should) do:

  1. Reduce the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to a changing climate through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and alternative fuels
  2. Learn about and prepare for the anticipated changes in your region

You do not have to be a climatologist to take these steps. You can use tools like https://www.climate.gov/ or http://toolkit.climate.gov/. These National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tools provide information on climate science and impacts and solutions in terms everyone can understand. You can find more resources like this in the C4S Sustainability Toolkit at http://www.apwa.net/centerforsustainability/tools-and-resources.

 

This is not an issue that we can wait any longer to take action on. Every day a public works professional somewhere is faced with an extreme event that they were not prepared for and the consequences of that can be significant. Let’s make sure that every public works agency is informed and prepared from here on out.

 

Kim Lundgren

Chair, APWA Center for Sustainability (C4S)

Kim@KimLundgrenAssociates.com

@TheKimLundgren