When I wrote an article on a SWAT armored vehicle back in February 2012, I can safely say I never saw myself where I am today: editor. Some of you might be familiar with my byline; I have written on a variety of topics, from public safety to pension reform, during three years. Some of you might have even received a phone call or email from me in regards to those articles. Having been involved with The Municipal ever since the second issue produced by The Papers Inc., I have had the privilege of speaking with many knowledgeable, passionate people who keep municipalities moving. And in a backstage capacity, I have also been The Municipal’s copy editor for a year or two, serving under Jodi Marlin.
Jodi has definitely left big shoes to fill, but I hope to follow her example and continue to provide informative stories that are relevant to our varied readership while also showcasing the latest products in the industry.
For September, in particular, we will be focusing on “green” practices and technology. “Going green” has been a buzzword for so long, its meaning has become diluted. It’s no longer a discussion that focuses solely on how to be more ecologically friendly, but also how to reduce energy usage, incorporate alternative sources of energy into processes, utilize replaceable, i.e., “sustainable,” materials in building and more.
This month, The Municipal shines the spotlight on several cities that are finding savings as they make the move to “greener” practices. For instance, East Rockaway, N.Y., is expecting to save more than $2 million during the course of its 18-year term of energy performance contract after it retrofitted seven municipal buildings. Other cities have also gotten on board with retrofitting as seen in writer Anne Meyer-Byler’s article on page 26. Other cities and organizations are monitoring their energy usages to find areas where they can save money, with writer Denise Fedorow finding Energy Star offers many programs to help do that, including an energy treasure hunt. More on that is available on page 38.
Not far removed from “Going Green” topics are the methods by which a community can improve its ability to return to normal after a disaster. Whether by snow, ice, hurricane, flood or tornado, at one time or another Mother Nature interrupts normal daily operations for all of us.
As soon as commerce can resume in any disaster zone, the area is considered to have rebounded. Municipal leaders are looking for ways to make this happen quickly; they’re looking for processes and plans that will make their community more resilient, including alternative energy sources like solar power. “Resilient” is a word being used nowadays to mean the ability to return to normal in a short period of time. The keys to resiliency are still being sorted out, but they seem to include policy, emergency planning and response, infrastructure, financial planning and environmental management.
Recently, a National Association of County & City Health Officials conference took on the topic at its annual conference. The event “provided a platform for sharing exciting new ways to build communities able to withstand and quickly rebound from emergencies whether they be of a health, weather, terrorism or other type of disaster.” Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, executive director, National Association of County & City Health Officials, spoke about ways partnerships can be leveraged to improve resiliency. He cited an innovative partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Rockefeller Foundation and the international organization 100 Resilient Cities as an example of such a partnership.
Marion Mollegen McFadden, HUD deputy assistant secretary for grant programs, and Andrew Salkin, chief operating officer of 100 Resilient Cities, also discussed their collaboration on the National Disaster Resilience Competition, which aims to aid states and local communities in recovering from disasters while helping them bolster their ability to withstand future emergencies. Participants shared how they worked together to overcome obstacles and realize a vision of robust, flexible communities. I encourage you to learn more about the NDRC winners’ projects, which will advance their community’s resilience plans. Other partnerships involving hard-to-reach populations were discussed, and a tool to help public health practitioners build community resilience was also presented.
The increased resiliency of our cities should be at priority today. I hope you’ll take a look at at the great ideas for improvement that came out of the NDRC competition, as well as the good news reported by The Municipal writers on other “Going Green” topics. You might also want to make note of our “Top Ten” this month, which features Complete Street superstars that are doing great things in another category of planning: streets and infrastructure. These 16 cities have gone above and beyond.
Hope everyone is enjoying the last days of summer; it won’t be long before some of readers are dealing with a certain four-letter word: snow. And finally, feel free to reach out to me; my inbox is always open.