Best planning and implementation toolbox

Green Communities Programs:

Purpose of Tool:
The purpose of a Green Communities Program is to conserve land, offer multiple transportation options, provide open space for recreation and cultivation, and use natural and cultural resources wisely by implementing specific recommendations contained in a designated “Green Action Plan”. The framework and goals for implementing a Green Community Program follows the United Nations Urban Environmental Accords of 2005, which acknowledge the environmental challenges and opportunities facing urban areas across the globe. The Accords, which are incorporated into a Green Action Plan, include recommendations to address 21 critical issues that are focused into the following conservation thematic areas: energy, waste reduction, urban design, urban nature, transportation, environmental health, and water. While the primary focus is on urban communities, suburban and more rural communities can also implement the majority of the included action steps as well.

Benefits of Using Tool:
The following are potential benefits from implementing a Green Action Plan:

  • Reduced energy usage
  • Increased use of renewable energy
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduced waste
  • Increased number of jobs
  • Increased public parks and recreational space
  • Provision of affordable public transportation
  • Better air quality
  • Reduced water consumption
  • Cleaner drinking water
    An important element of the Green Action Plan is the progress of a community in meeting their goals and implementing their action steps.

    Steps Involved to Use Tool:
    A Green Action Plan is developed by identifying recommended action steps for a community that will address the issues included in the UN Urban Environmental Accords. These action steps focus on addressing critical issues and are grouped into the thematic categories identified by The Accords, which are shown below:
  • Energy (renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate change)
  • Waste Reduction ( zero waste, manufacturer responsibility, consumer responsibility)
  • Urban Design (green building, urban planning, slums)
  • Urban Nature (park, habitat restoration, wildlife)
  • Transportation (public transportation, clean vehicles, reducing congestion)
  • Environmental Health (toxic product/chemical reduction, healthy food systems, clean air)
  • Water (water access and efficiency, source water conservation, waste water reduction)

    An important element of the Green Action Plan is the progress of a community in meeting their goals and implementing their action steps.

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    In order for a community to enforce many of these initiatives, policies must be included at the local and state level. It also requires community support and involvement.

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    An Environmental Advisory Commission or an Advisory Group is an important resource for the implementation of the Green Action Plan and also encourages community dialogue and involvement. The Commission or Advisory Group helps get the community active and encourages their participation in the green initiative. Changing the way resources are used requires participation from all sectors of the community, and the input from the Commission or Advisory Group is critical. In addition, communities also need to investigate the use of new technologies, such as solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric powers, in order to save energy. Along with the use of new technologies comes the need to update homes and buildings in order for them to be compatible with environmentally friendly appliances that conserve energy.

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
  • Pasadena, California: Pasadena has taken a number of significant actions to become a green city and these action steps are incorporated into their Green City Action Plan. Contact:

    Pasadena Planning and Development Department
    175 North Garfield Avenue
    Pasadena, CA 91109

  • Denver, Colorado: The City has implemented a comprehensive action agenda focused on the integration of environmental impact considerations into city programs and policies.  Contact:

    City and County of Denver
    Greenprint Denver
    1437 Bannock Street, Room 350
    Denver, Colorado 80202

  • San Francisco, California: The City of San Francisco incorporates very innovative environmental legislation and initiatives.  Contact:

    11 Grove Street
    San Francisco, CA 94102

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
    Communities measure their progress by addressing the 21 issues outlined by the UN Urban Environmental Accords. Communities that have successfully implemented action steps will be recognized by the UN as a Green City on World Environment Day 2012, with a ranking determined by the number of issues addressed.

    The City of Pasadena has currently achieved seven (7) of the action steps. Pasadena has retrofitted its City Hall to meet LEED building requirements, resulting in a conversion to 100% green power and a reduction of water use by more than 40%. The City has also saved 15,000,000 gallons of water by offering water efficiency rebate programs. The City now runs their transit system on various clean green fuels. Twelve (12) of their buses run on bio-diesel and the other five (5) are hybrid.

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
  • “Pasadena Green Action Plan”. 2006. City of Pasadena
  • “Greenprint Denver”. 2006. Greenprint Denver
  • Urban Environmental Accords. 2005