Last week I was working with the ISOSGroup delivering sustainability training in San Francisco. During this 3 day session, we covered the GRI Standards, the CDP Climate Change Program, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was a great training hosted by Recology at their corporate headquarters. The group that we trained was as amazing as the view. There were people from Recology and other companies along with students from the Presidio Graduate School.
These trainings are meeting the increased demand for information about organizations’ economic, environmental, and social risks. The GRI Standards provides organizations with the tool to better manage these risks. Do you have an interest in learning more about the GRI Standards? You are in luck because ISOSGroup has two scheduled trainings in October. I will be training in Seattle and Chicago for the next two events.
Although I have been away from my blog this summer, I have been encountering interesting things. One in particular is a new business that incorporates sambal and sustainability. Sambal is a hot sauce commonly used in Indonesia and Malaysia. Years ago, I had the good fortune to try sambal while on a faculty exchange program on the island of Java, Indonesia. Now I have found an authentic source for sambal in the U.S.
Kick Gourmet Foods has the best sambal I have tasted since I left Indonesia. If you like “spicy” food with heat and flavor, you will like this!
This company has incorporated the three pillars of sustainability in its business credo. If you purchase the gift box order, you get a wooden box that holds the jars; and you can re-use the box! As you can see below, I turned the box into a jewelry holder. I lined the bottom with a piece of scrap velvet cloth.
There appears to be a lot of circular economy activity going on in cities, but it may under reported. How and where the waste data is reported depends a great deal on a city’s waste management system. Waste collection can be done by a private contractor or a public utility or a combination. This is the case in the city of Bloomington, Indiana, which is home to Indiana University. The city’s population is 85,000 people; half of these residents are students. The university, the city, and private collection companies collect waste. The city and the university track recycling. At present, private collectors track by regions not by cities.
Are there other waste disposal options in Bloomington?
There are several NGOs involved with the circular economy that report annually on their work. For example, the Monroe County Habitat for Humanity Restore collects donated used building materials and appliances to resell to the public at discounted prices. In 2017, 1.1 million pounds were diverted from the landfill. This does not include all the construction waste from the demolition of buildings. Collection of this data would be a complex endeavor, but lessons could be learned from the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It has plans to create a circular city that in part organizes the building chain to incorporate the reuse of building materials in new construction. It is a new program that will require considerable coordination from setting up a storage facility to measuring and monitoring the materials. It will involve a multi-year effort, but Amsterdam is on the cutting edge of becoming a circular city.
Another example of the circular economy in Bloomington is a local NGO foodbank, Hoosier Hills Foodbank (HHFB). HHFB coordinates food collection with local grocery stores, farmers markets, and restaurants. It in turn makes food donations available to over 100 nonprofit organizations including emergency food pantries, daycare centers serving low-income children, youth programs, shelters, residential homes and soup kitchens.
Hoosier to Hoosier (H2H), an annual event that diverts reusable items from the landfill during Indiana University’s student move-out at the end of each spring semester, illustrates the reuse of post consumer goods. This program prevents new resource consumption by selling collected items to students and community members at the beginning of each fall semester. The funds raised are donated to local charities and other organizations. H2H is a partnership between the city of Bloomington Sustainability, Indiana University Office of Sustainability, and Cutters Soccer Club. In 2016, it successfully diverted 60 tons and collected $45,000 from its sales.
Yard waste collection in Bloomington is another example of the circular economy. Each fall the city collects residential yard leaves with trucks equipped with vacuum hoses. The leaves are delivered to Green Earth Recycling and Compost, a private company, which charges the city a dumping fee per load. The company processes the leaves into compost for sale to the public.
There may be many more examples that are not widely publicized so an assessment of progress in Bloomington is incomplete. Collecting data on other examples needs to be made a priority if we are to assess progress and make decisions about new initiatives for the city. One issue for better assessment of progress is getting all the information together in one place. This could be accomplished on the city government website. Having the information in a central location could provide more opportunities for partnerships across the city.
It was my pleasure to make this presentation on how the City of Bloomington, Indiana tracks its progress on resilience and sustainability during the session entitled Measuring urban resilience and evaluating impacts at the Resilient Cities Conference 2018.
I represented the City of Bloomington at the Resilient Cities Conference 2018 in Bonn, Germany in my role as Chair of the City of Bloomington Commission on Sustainability. The commission has as part of its mission to measure, monitor, and report on the community’s progress toward sustainability.
See my slide presentation and comments below.
This slide represents a list of reporting frameworks that all cities could use to report on their sustainability progress.
The city prepared its first Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Report in 2012. You can access Bloomington’s full GRI report here.
You can read about how Bloomington reduced its GHG emissions in its latest GHG inventory here.
As the City of Bloomington considers its long range plan for land use and development, it completed its 2018 Comprehensive Plan. The plan is a set of goals, policies, maps, illustrations, and implementation strategies that state how the City of Bloomington should address development: physically, socially, and economically.
The city is engaged currently in preparing a Sustainability Action Plan, which will address transportation, energy, food, and the built environment.
In an earlier blog post, I discussed how ISO 37120 Sustainable development of communities — Indicators for city services and quality of life would be useful to a city.
As we look at our next steps in reporting, there are numerous things to do to monitor the city’s progress. The metrics set out in the Comprehensive Plan and the Sustainability Action Plan will provide information about how well the city is adhering to its plans. In addition, other standardized reporting frameworks can be used to monitor Bloomington’s progress in its sustainable development.
To help understand all of our metrics, I recommend that a summary of all the reports be prepared to get a picture of what the city is doing. A summary report should be written each year to determine our strengths, weaknesses, and progress. This report could be presented to the City Council and Mayor as part of a formal annual reporting by the Commission on Sustainability.
Started in 2010, the Resilient Cities Conference was conceived as a way to connect local government leaders and climate change adaptation experts. The goal was to create discussion about adaptation challenges facing urban environments and to encourage partnerships that could benefit cities.
“A ‘Resilient City’ is prepared to absorb and recover from any shock or stress while maintaining its essential functions, structures, and identity as well as adapting and thriving in the face of continual change. Building resilience requires identifying and assessing hazard risks, reducing vulnerability and exposure, and lastly, increasing resistance, adaptive capacity, and emergency preparedness.”
The Resilient Cities Conference 2018 featured speakers from all over the globe, which included Australia, North, Central, and South America, Europe, Africa, Pacific Islands, and Asia. I was one of three U.S. city/state representatives. The program was packed with sessions about challenges and strategies for cities as they adapt to climate change.
At the Mayors Lunch, we were given Rubik’s cubes to symbolize how one’s perception of progress can be deceptive. In trying to solving the puzzle, although progress may be occurring, things often look much worse before they look better.
In addition, I was invited to the Talanoa Dialogue and Dinner.
“This year’s conference has been confirmed as a Talanoa Dialogue. Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji to describe an inclusive and transparent dialogue and decision-making process. The Talanoa Dialogue was launched by the COP23 Presidency of Fiji and is designed to take stock of and strengthen national climate plans known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs. In order to keep global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius, greater ambition and more effective implementation involving all levels of government is critical.”
Great conversations occurred between the sessions.
It was a great conference that I hope to attend in the future. In my next posts, I will talk about my two presentations at the Resilient Cities Conference 2018.