Sustainability has been important to Corvallis local government for many years. It officially became part of how the organization operates in 2004 when the Corvallis City Council adopted an organizational sustainability policy. Prior to that, significant emphasis was on cost-saving aspects of projects, such as how to reduce energy consumption to save money, but it wasn’t referred to as ‘sustainability’.

The organization’s sustainability policy provided guidance and direction to staff, and a definition: “Sustainability means using natural, financial and human resources in a responsible manner that meets existing needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Since implementation of the policy, the organization’s sustainability efforts have matured considerably. For greater detail on the history of the organization’s sustainability efforts, visit the History page.

Operationally, the organization has long-term sustainability goals in five areas:

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

Below are brief descriptions of each goal. The Sustainability Dashboard provides a snapshot of the organization’s performance in each goal area.

EMPLOYER OF CHOICE

An employer of choice is one whose practices, policies, benefits and overall work conditions enable it to successfully attract and retain talent. This social sustainability goal seeks to provide a desirable, safe work environment that fosters employee cohesiveness. The objectives for this goal, updated in 2014, focus on turnover, injuries, and employee participation in the Spring Fitness Challenge.

SUSTAINABLE FACILITIES

Sustainable facilities are those built, maintained, and operated in a manner that reduces energy, water, and materials use and harm to human health and the environment. They include occupied buildings, and facilities such as parks and pumping stations.

Objectives for the Sustainable Facilities goal are to reduce water use and emissions from energy used in City operations. Staff tracks electricity, natural gas, and water use at City facilities to compare against baseline years and to measure progress toward reduction goals.

Projects include solar hot water, high-efficiency traffic and streetlights, drought-tolerant landscapes, and water saving faucets, showerheads, and toilets.

SUSTAINABLE PURCHASING

This goal supports the City’s Sustainability Policy by considering the Triple Bottom Line of environmental, economic and social impacts in purchasing decisions. Useful tools include Life Cycle Costing to determine the lowest economic cost over a product’s lifetime; specifications that include environmentally preferable characteristics; and Third Party Certifications (e.g., Energy Star, Green Seal) to identify environmentally preferable products.

To reduce emissions, waste, and toxicity impacts from City purchases, we are creating green purchasing standard operating procedures for areas of highest impact, increasing our purchases from local vendors, and including emissions from purchased goods and services in the City organization’s greenhouse gas inventory.

VEHICLE CARBON FOOTPRINT

Cars, trucks, heavy equipment, lawnmowers, and utility vehicles are essential to City services, but they create considerable greenhouse gas emissions from petroleum based products. The City aims to reduce its vehicle carbon footprint by decreasing fossil fuel use, which will be achieved by purchasing more energy-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles, changing driving behavior, and increasing the use of renewable fuels.

The Energy Conservation Policy prohibits idling of City vehicles and topping off the tank when fueling. The City uses biodiesel in all diesel vehicles, including fire engines, buses and construction equipment.

WASTE REDUCTION

This goal encourages staff to not only reuse and recycle, but also to prevent waste by reducing consumption and considering the entire life cycle of a product.

Staff conducts waste audits and measures success by the diversion of waste from the landfill, an increase in materials recycled or reused, and financial savings from smaller garbage bins.

For more information about sustainability efforts at the City of Corvallis, contact Scott Dybvad, Sustainability Program Specialist, at (541) 766-6331 or by email

 

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Last updated: 8/5/2014 4:54:38 PM