City of Corvallis staff have been working on minimizing the impact our operations have on the environment for many years. In the 1990s, the emphasis was on cost-saving aspects of projects–how can we reduce energy consumption to save money. Sustainability wasn't a well-known concept at that time and we didn't fully appreciate the side benefit on the global environment from our cost-saving measures. We began tracking our operational improvements in terms of sustainability impacts around 2002, and those we accomplished were heavily weighted toward reducing solid waste and saving energy.

In 2003, the City Council adopted an overarching goal of sustainability. The overarching nature of the goal did not carry with it a specific directive for staff; it was done more to heighten the awareness of sustainability and to get staff to begin thinking about how to incorporate those concepts in our daily activities.

In 2004, the Council adopted an organizational sustainability policy that provided more guidance and created six general topic areas for staff to focus their attention on when reviewing City operations and maintenance activities: Sustainable Purchasing Practices, Green Building Practices, Solid Waste Management, Land Use Planning, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Toxics and Persistent Biotoxins.

The policy required an annual report to the City Council on the progress made in each of the topic areas. The reports highlight the years' accomplishments, and also contain objectives for the future, reflecting the City's move toward more proactive planning for sustainability improvements.

As sustainability became more widely known and discussed, staff began marketing our efforts and achievements to share with the public our progress in this journey.

In 2005, the City Council adopted a specific goal to enhance organizational sustainability efforts. Staff hired a consultant, Zero Waste Alliance, to help us develop a strategy to implement this goal. Over a three-month period the consultant met with many City employees to assess the current level of effort on sustainability and to make recommendations for future actions to move operations to a more sustainable level. They found that Corvallis already had made a lot of progress toward reuse of materials, reduction of energy consumption, and elimination of hazardous chemical use. The work accomplished provided a good basis to build from in moving the organization to the next level in the journey toward sustainability. The consultants’ next steps provided a more systematic, comprehensive approach to the issue, with stated goals, timelines and metrics.

In fiscal year 2006-07, the Council approved funding to hire a sustainability coordinator, develop a sustainability management plan, and make improvements to the energy systems at the aquatic center. The internal Sustainability Steering Committee worked on the development of long-term goals in five key areas:

  • Employer of Choice
  • Sustainable Facilities 
  • Sustainable Purchasing 
  • Vehicle Carbon Footprint 
  • Waste Reduction

In 2008, the City-wide Sustainability Core Team was established. This team, comprised of a mix of represented and management staff from all departments, helps develop and implement the sustainability program. At that point, the City began tracking sustainability accomplishments in a more formal manner. The following table highlights significant accomplishments from 2000 forward.

 

Corvallis’ Path to Leadership

2000

Corvallis joins Cities for Climate Protection campaign

2001

City signs up for renewable energy through Pacific Power Blue Sky program

2004

City Council adopts Sustainability Policy for municipal operations

2005

City Council passes resolution urging residents and businesses to purchase renewable energy

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designates Corvallis a “Green Power Community”

Sustainability Steering Committee formed (City Manager, Department Directors)

2006

Sustainability Supervisor hired to develop comprehensive sustainability program

2007

Development of ISO 14001-based Sustainability Management System begins

City becomes founding member of Corvallis Sustainability Coalition

City becomes founding member of International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP)

2008

City-wide Sustainability Core Team established

Sustainability fund created to allow departments to explore innovative in-house projects

Energy Trust of Oregon chooses Corvallis for Oregon’s first community energy challenge

Organization develops five overarching organizational sustainability goals

City partners with Corvallis Sustainability Coalition on Community Sustainability Action Plan

Corvallis joins ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability

City earns Julian Award for Sustainability from Oregon Chapter of American Public Works Association

City earns League of Oregon Cities Award of Excellence for sustainability planning

2009

City Council sub-committee develops Community Energy Strategy

Staff complete City’s first greenhouse gas inventory for municipal operations

City uses its $511,600 federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) to fund community programs and infrastructure

City awarded $78,750 from Pacific Power’s Blue Sky program for Fire Station #4 solar project

Sustainability Program Specialist position created

2010

Council adopts Community Sustainability Policy

Council passes Sustainability Initiatives Fees for transit, urban forests, and sidewalk maintenance

EPA chooses Corvallis for its first Green Power Community of the Year award

EPA awards Corvallis a Climate Showcase Communities grant for $491,762

2011

City awarded $144,000 from Pacific Power’s Blue Sky program for Fire Station #1 solar project

2012

City awarded Gold certification (highest level) from State Electronics Challenge for the organization’s computer purchasing, use and disposal practices

Council passes Single-Use Plastic Carryout Bag Ordinance

2013

Sustainability elements incorporated into job descriptions and employee evaluations

Included sustainability in new hire orientation

2014

City staff conduct a greenhouse gas inventory for the Corvallis community

Last updated: 4/17/2017 5:04:01 PM