In the Toolkit --

Introduction

  • Guide to the Toolkit
  • Leagues in Action
  • I. Choosing a Role for Your League

    II. Grassroots Action Priorities

  • Climate Action
  • Price on Carbon
  • Our Children's Trust
  • Energy Efficient Buildings
  • Renewable Energy
  • Adapting to Climate Change
  • III. Basics of Climate Change

    IV. Engaging Individuals

  • Communicating About Climate Change
  • Preparing for a Meeting on Climate Change
  • Engaging Groups in Your Community
  • V. Promoting Public Policy

  • Community Action Models
  • Organizing For Community Action
  • Tips for Building Grassroots Support
  • League Action on Climate Change
  • International Action
  • VI. Resources

    COMMUNITY ACTION MODELS

    There are a variety of initiatives available to communities around the country who wish to take collective action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase their resiliency. These programs provide opportunities for Leagues to partner with their local governments and other organizations to advance climate goals and help their communities become more sustainable.

    U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement

    U.S. mayors have been at the forefront of efforts to make significant reductions in GHG emissions. When in February 2005 the Kyoto Protocol became law for the 141 countries that had ratified it, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels launched an initiative to advance the goals of the Kyoto Protocol through leadership and action by at least 141 American cities. By the time of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting that June, 141 mayors had signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, commiting their cities to striving to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol emissions-reduction targets in their own communities -- a seven percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2012, the target suggested for developed countries like the U.S.

    As of January 2015, the agreement has been signed by 1,060 mayors representing the communities shown on this map. An April 2014 report, Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Actions in America's Cities from the Mayors Climate Protection Center, provides information on climate efforts in 282 cities. 

    Most recently, at their annual meeting in June 2014, mayors signed a new agreement that calls for federal and state action to achieve a national GHG-emissions reduction target "in the range of 17 percent by 2020." Mayors also pledged to take action to meet or exceed locally-established targets for reduced energy use, to make energy efficiency and resiliency a priority, to promote green transportation options, to preserve open space and create compact, walkable communities, and to invest in climate preparedness.

    Communities that have signed onto the climate protection agreement are at different stages in fulfilling their commitments. There are opportunities for local Leagues and community partners to collaborate with their local governments to develop and advance strategies to achieve local mitigation and adaptation goals. 

    ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA

    Local governments can also join ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, a membership association of more than 600 local governments committed to climate protection and sustainability. ICLEI offers its members technical assistance and software tools to create comprehensive climate protection programs.

    ICLEI works closely with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to help cities that have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement work towards the goals of the agreement. ICLEI resources include a Climate Action Handbook and a Municipal Clean Energy Toolkit. ICLEI also sponsors a Green Business Challenge and is a founding sponsor of STAR Communities.

    STAR Communities

    STAR (Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating) Communities is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that works to evaluate, improve, and certify sustainable communities. Its STAR Community Rating System is a voluntary self-reporting framework for evaluating the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of a community. It provides a roadmap for community leaders to assess how sustainable their community already is, to set goals for moving ahead, and to measure their progress along the way.

    The STAR Rating System consists of seven sustainability goal areas, with a number of objectives and evaluation measures for each, and the process of compiling all the data is challenging and time-consuming. After the local government submits its application, a STAR Communities technical team verifies the data submitted and assigns a rating based on the points achieved. The rating lasts for three years, at which point the community is expected to measure its progress through a recertification process.

    STAR was developed by ICLEI, the U.S. Green BUilding Council, the Center for American Progress, and the National League of Cities. Check this map to see if yours is one of the over 80 communities actively using the STAR framework and certification program.

    Other Sustainability Initiatives

    Some communities began framing their work in terms of sustainability well before STAR Communities. Examples include Santa Monica, CA, Seattle, WA, Tuscon, AZ, and Monterey County, CA. The latter is also a Transitions Initiative, part of a global network of groups that "work to build local resilience in the face of the challenges of climate change, declining resources, and the collapsing global economy."

    ENERGY STAR Energy Efficiency Competitions

    ENERGY STAR encourages all types of organizations -- businesses, utility companies, local governments, schools, congregations -- to consider running an energy efficiency competition. ENERGY STAR partners have found that the spirit of healthy competition and the opportunity for recognition help drive participation and achieve impressive results. The ENERGY STAR Guide to Energy Efficiency Competition for Buildings and Plants (2014) covers key competition components, including setting goals, defining the scope of the competition, dedicating resources to the effort, measuring success, communicating to participants and the public, and recognizing achievement.

    ENERGY STAR also sponsors a National Building Competition to help improve the energy and water efficiency of commercial buildings. Participants include governments, businesses, school districts, hospitals, and congregations, whose energy managers compete to see who can save the most energy and water, on a percentage basis, between the previous and the current calendar years.

    Last updated: 1/23/2015