From planting the right greenery to adding bike lanes and upgrading city building insulation to preserving green space, local officials have countless ways make their cities greener and local government operations more environmentally friendly. An array of organizations offer certifications, designations and programs to help.
Tree City USA
Cities with Tree City USA status meet four standards established by the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters: "maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day."
Audubon International Sustainable Community Certification
"Through education, technical assistance, certification and recognition, Audubon International facilitates the implementation of environmental management practices that ensure natural resources are sustainably used and conserved."
Bicycle Friendly Community from the League of American Bicyclists
"The Bicycle Friendly Community program provides a roadmap to improving conditions for bicycling and guidance to help make your community's vision for a better, bikeable community a reality."
International Living Future Institute
The Living Community Challenge "is a framework for master planning, design and construction. It is a tool to create a symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment. The program is a call to action to governments, campuses, planners, developers and neighborhood groups to create communities that are as connected and beautiful as a forest."
Bee City USA
The Bee City USA program endorses a set of commitments, defined in a resolution, for creating sustainable habitats for pollinators, which are vital to feeding the planet.
Palmetto Clean Fuels Coalition
This initiative of the Office of Regulatory Staff – Energy Office supports the use of alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies in South Carolina. PCF, part of the Clean Cities program, promotes fuel economy measures, bicycle and pedestrian efforts, and reductions in vehicle miles traveled and vehicle idling.
Keep South Carolina Beautiful
Keep South Carolina Beautiful, the state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, works with corporations, government and civic entities, educational institutions, nonprofits and other organizations to address complex challenges on a local and national scale and "helps turn public spaces into beautiful places, helping to drive positive social, environmental and economic change."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities
The program "provides quick, targeted technical assistance to selected communities using a variety of tools that have demonstrated results and widespread application. The purpose of delivering these tools is to stimulate a discussion about growth and development and strengthen local capacity to implement sustainable approaches."
Green Building Council's STAR Communities Program
"The STAR Community Rating System is the nation's leading comprehensive framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability, encompassing economic, environmental and social performance measures. Local leaders use the rating system's evaluation measures to assess their current level of sustainability, set targets for moving ahead, and measure progress along the way."
Has your city, town, utility or public safety department earned any certifications or designations or participated in any sustainability programs? Share your "go green" stories on our Facebook page or on Twitter.