ICLEI USA Unveils Comprehensive Toolkit for Greening Cities and Counties

ICLEI USA Unveils Comprehensive Toolkit for Greening Cities and Counties

ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability USA launches a comprehensive resource today to guide cities and countries, step by step, through the process of greening their communities.

The 55-page Sustainability Planning Toolkit is modeled after the city of New York's highly successful PlaNYC guide and was developed by ICLEI in collaboration with the New York Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability.

"Our toolkit is a roadmap to guide any local government, big or small, through the process of creating a sustainability plan," ICLEI USA's Senior Communications Officer Don Knapp said in a statement provided to GreenerBuildings.com.  
"Staff from ICLEI's local government members have been telling us how eager they are for a resource like this toolkit, because creating a sustainability plan can be a complex and lengthy endeavor," Knapp said.

"There are so many steps to go through, so many individual initiatives to consider, so many stakeholders to involve, and it's hard to know where to begin. Municipal staff didn't want to have to reinvent the wheel and create their own process from scratch, especially when their resources and manpower are often so limited. Fortunately, big cities like New York have acted as the trailblazer."

The toolkit is replete with best practice examples, checklists, templates and guidelines that provide an explicit how-to for users. Steps covered include building the planning team, structuring the planning process and a look at the strategies and measures to include in plans.

The guide is premised on "five milestone" tasks that authors say local governments must complete to in order to move forward:

  • Milestone 1: Conduct a sustainability assessment
  • Milestone 2: Establish sustainability goals
  • Milestone 3: Develop a local sustainability plan
  • Milestone 4: Implement policies and measures
  • Milestone 5: Evaluate progress and report results

By following that path, local governments can devise effective, measurable goals that can be measured over time, the organization says.

"Our toolkit shows local government staff how to create a plan that won't just sit on a shelf, but will become an integral part of government operations," Knapp said. "We believe this toolkit is going to empower and accelerate the efforts of our local government members, who are already the leaders in sustainability initiatives."  

The toolkit is the first of two key resources that will offered by ICLEI USA. The second is the STAR Community Index, which is expected to formally launch in 2011 and is to provide a framework for "gauging the sustainability and livability of U.S. communities," the organization says.

A soft launch of municipal goals for the framework is targeted for early 2010. One-hundred-sixty-five people representing 135 groups -- among them 60 cities and 10 counties -- are helping to develop the framework.

The sustainability toolkit's table of contents, overview and related free resources are available at

The complete toolkit is available only to local governments that are ICLEI members.

The U.S. organization has 600 cities, counties and towns as members. The international group is made up of 1,107 member towns, cities and counties in 67 countries. The organization was founded in 1990 and initially was called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.

More information about the organization is available at http://www.icleiusa.org/.

Elements for the photo illustration courtesy of ICLEI USA.