One of the key ingredients of successful, premiere cities is sustainability. When decision-makers focus and take action on initiatives that increase a city’s environmental, social, and economic life, in equal measure, the community is able to grow and thrive.
A community focused on sustainability will experience:
- Financial benefits through reduced municipal costs for energy, water, infrastructure, and maintenance; and increased tax and fee revenues due to increased economic activity
- Healthy residents through access to clean air, water, and food as well as opportunities to be physically active
- Economic growth as businesses choose to establish and remain in the community because the workforce is healthy and happy and cost savings for energy, water, etc. are realized due to smart development and building standards
The Environmental Finance Center (EFC) was approached in January of 2021 about a potential study to evaluate initiatives that could move the needle on sustainability for Wichita. The year-long study would involve a lengthy research phase to evaluate municipal sustainability methodologies, nationally recognized sustainability scoring platforms (ACEEE and CDP), and sustainability efforts at comparable and aspirational communities to best understand the current community sustainability landscape and opportunities.
From there, staff began curating a list of over 200 potential projects, programs, policies, partnerships, and targets – drawing inspiration from scoring platforms, successful communities, and current City of Wichita planning documents. While developing the project list, staff also developed a methodology for prioritizing the initiatives and designed and built the Sustainability Initiatives Scoring Matrix - a digital decision-making tool that scores and prioritizes projects on social, environmental, and economic factors most relevant to City operations and community interests. The matrix is a tool that can be used into the future for assessing the impact and sustainability of any community-level project.
The Sustainability Initiatives Scoring Matrix was used to score 123 projects and programs. Sixty-seven (67) projects and programs that rose to the top in the scoring process were grouped into 15 bundles. Bundles were enhanced with more than 90 targets, policies and partnership opportunities that catapult economic, social and environmental impacts as well as ACEEE and CDP survey scores. The 15 bundles serve as a roadmap to sustainability for Wichita, carving a direct path for the next 1-3 years.
Sustainability is often perceived as environmentalism or “being green”, solely focusing on protecting planet Earth from human behavior, and combatting climate change. However, community-focused sustainability is multifaceted. For the purposes of the Wichita Sustainability Initiatives report, sustainability is defined as the potential for long-term preservation of the city and well-being of the people who live there.
In practical application, sustainability focuses on the balance of three interconnected pillars: Economy, Society, and the Environment. All three components must be considered together to achieve lasting prosperity. The Sustainability Venn Diagram shows how the three pillars interconnect to achieve all the benefits of sustainability.
City leaders, Sustainability Integration Board Members, City staff, and the community will be able to identify priority bundles and associated initiatives to begin implementation and meet sustainability goals. Below are clear next steps the City can take beyond this report.
Step 1: Read and Share Report
Publish and provide this report to stakeholders.
Step 2: Engage Stakeholders
Engage with stakeholders to review the roadmap and identify priorities.
Step 3: Select Bundles
Reference the roadmap to select bundles that best represent priority consensus.
Step 4: Develop Implementation Plan
Develop an implementation plan that outlines the priority bundles and strategies for adopting and implementing each initiative.
Step 5: Complete Projects
Initiate projects outlined in the implementation plan.
Step 6: Celebrate Successes
Share successes with stakeholders and the community
- Jump into the report – available here – and review the proposed initiatives and bundles. Identify projects or behaviors that fit your business or family and get started!
- Check out the City of Wichita’s ongoing sustainability efforts on their Sustainability webpage, attend a Sustainability Integration Board Meeting, or even apply to be a member of the City of Wichita Sustainability Integration Board.
- Volunteer! There are several environmental organizations across Wichita who are doing good work and could use your help.