Utne Blogs > Environment

City Sustainability Directors Pinch Pennies

 by Lisa Gulya


Tags: environment, green, sustainable, cities, sustainability directors, mayors, emissions,

Light bulbFinding sources of bureaucratic waste to keep your job sounds like a lifetime employment guarantee. For sustainability directors like John Coleman in Fayetteville, Arkansas, reports Governing, curtailing that waste requires little more than parroting the advice of any penny-pinching parent. Turn off the lights when you leave the room; turn down the heat at night.

More than 800 mayors of American cities pledged to slash urban emissions, and about three dozen of those cities have sustainability directors, sometimes with entire staffs, to turn those pledges into action. At this early stage, the work is simple for sustainability directors, who can target inefficient government facilities for instant savings. In addition, sustainability directors “serve as both a liaison and a beacon to businesses and citizens who want to limit their own carbon output” and facilitate sustainability networking. “There are people with ideas, and there are people with money. But it still takes someone such as Coleman to make the introductions.”

As simple savings become harder to come by, solutions will require more innovation, as well as the political savvy to pitch changes like retrofitting buildings to tight-budgeted cities, Governing suggests, even if such changes will save money in the long run.