Sustainability Projects

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In September 2004, the “Building a Green Capital City: A Blueprint for Madison’s Sustainable Design and Energy Future” report was published. The “Blueprint,” as it came to be known, was developed through the effort of the Mayor’s Energy Task Force, a group formed in October of 2003, and charged with “making Madison a green capital city and creating a city that would be seen as a leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy that also supports the city’s economic vitality.”

Many of the recommendations of the “Blueprint” were implemented, particularly those that City government could implement and use to lead by example. Please see link.

In 2005, the City of Madison adopted The Natural Step (TNS) as its sustainability framework. The framework’s focus on systems thinking allowed discussions about Madison as a sustainable community to evolve beyond energy efficiency and renewable energy. In 2009, it became evident that the Blueprint needed to be updated and expanded. The Sustainable Design and Energy Committee (SDEC), formed in response to one of the recommendations in the“Blueprint”, took on the task of updating the report, with the assistance of a diverse group of stakeholders and experts.

The City continued its commitment to sustainability through the creation of the Quality and Sustainability Steering Committee in the fall of 2011, an executive staff team that provides ongoing attention to issues regarding quality and sustainability. This executive staff team provides sponsorship and support to various quality and sustainability improvement projects the City undertakes.

The SDEC’s name was changed to the Sustainable Madison Committee (SMC) by Council Resolution in 2012, so both of these acronyms will appear in this Plan.

Plan Structure and Overview

Madison’s improvement efforts in sustainability will focus on these three key areas (environment, economic prosperity and social well-being) with the goal of enhancing our community’s health and quality of life. To support the Plan and its implementation, the principles of the existing scientifically based sustainability framework, The Natural Step (TNS), will be utilized. The Natural Step framework has four System Conditions, or Sustainability Principles, that have been used when implementing change and improvement initiatives. The system conditions state that in a sustainable society, Nature is not subject to systematically increasing:

• concentrations of materials extracted from the Earth’s crust (e.g., fossil fuels, metals);
• concentrations of man-made substances (e.g., pesticides, solvents, herbicides);
• degradation by physical means (e.g., destruction of plant life, trees and water systems); or
• conditions that undermine people’s capacity to meet their needs (e.g., lack of quality daycare, lack of affordable housing, discriminatory practices).

Plan Purpose

The Sustainability Plan is meant to provide guidance for current and future decision makers, City employees, City committee members, residents and other entities. The strategies and associated actions outlined in the Plan are not meant to be prescriptive, but rather an attempt to lay out a series of priorities and directions that will help Madison and the capital area become more sustainable. The Plan is a document that should be used and modified as innovation brings new technologies, as new practices are developed or at such times that significant global events threaten to impact us.

The Sustainability Plan seeks to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and economic crises. It is designed to engage our community to create an inspiring local way of life that can withstand the shocks of rapidly shifting global systems. Such challenges to global systems are likely to require that we regularly reassess our views and modify our responses.

Plan Structure

The Plan contains ten Sustainability Categories each of which contain a brief definition and vision created by committee and public input. Each category contains a number of strategies and has a non-exclusive list of actions associated with it. Key timeframes, funding sources, identified implementation leaders and/
or partners and additional benefits that the strategy can impact are also listed.

Timeframes are listed as short-term (1-3 years), medium-term (3-5 years) and long-term (more than 5 years). Some actions and strategies are very specific and ambitious, but others may appear more broadly stated. The SDEC/SMC and City agencies will work to create metrics where needed and to fine-tune strategies and actions as needs, technologies and stakeholders change. All the strategies require action and follow up if Madison is to provide stewardship of its resources for this and future generations.

Sustainability Homepage

Sustainability Projects

The Madison Sustainability Plan 2011