Durham will be among the first to join a new program for towns to reach sustainability goals.
The Board of Selectmen approved on Monday, Dec. 11 for the town to participate in the Sustainable CT municipal certification program, which First Selectman Laura Francis helped create.
The program developed as a Conference of Connecticut Municipalities initiative in 2016 and 2017.
The CCM Task Force on Sustainability created the vision for Sustainable CT in early 2016. Francis was member of task force, which turned into an advisory committee she vice-chaired.
“The task force decided it should happen, and the advisory committee made it happen,” Francis said on Tuesday, Dec. 12.
Now she’s a member of the board of directors that will be the governing body for the newly-formed nonprofit which will administer program.
Towns register and then complete action items and meet requirements to earn points toward certification.
Action items include improving watershed management, supporting arts and creative culture, reducing energy use and increasing renewable energy, designing streets that meet the needs of walkers and bikers as well as cars, improving recycling programs, assessing climate vulnerability, supporting local businesses and providing efficient and diverse housing options, according to a news release.
There is no cost to participate and towns will select their own actions, the news release stated.
“It’s a nice roadmap for towns to strive to be more resilient, more sustainable,” Francis said, adding that Durham residents have consistently expressed interest in clean energy, sustainability and other environmental issues.
Francis said that Sustainable CT “represents the shared values we already have in Durham” and the town’s commitment to exploring alternative energy sources, including energy audits of municipal buildings and energy efficiency projects.
Durham participated in the pilot phase of Solarize Connecticut in 2012, and the town also is considering installing an electric car charging station.
Sustainable CT is administered by the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University.
“When there were conversations around creating a sustainability rating system for Connecticut, we thought it was a great idea,” said Lynn Stoddard, Institute director.
Three foundations–Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, Common Sense Fund, Hampshire Foundation–supported the creation and coordination of the program. The foundations fund community-level work associated with energy and climate change, Stoddard said.
”They’ve been supportive as funders with money and ideas and being at the table through the creation process,” she said. The Institute is seeking additional funding from other foundations, sponsors and grants.
Sustainable CT is several planning regional launch events, including 6:30 p.m. Jan. 9, 2018 at Yale University in New Haven, and 6 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Hartford Public Library.
For more information on visit www.sustainablect.org.