Your city • inside and out

100% Sustainable by 2030 – Update

In Urban Affairs on March 17, 2009 at 5:01 pm


Spokane Mayor Mary Verner’s much-anticipated Sustainability Task Force report is hot off the presses and on its way to city council members this week. Sources familiar with the long-range strategic plan say the document contains broad policy recommendations, rather than step-by-step mandates for addressing how climate change and peak oil will affect city government operations, services and programs.

Led by Roger Woodworth, Avista’s vice president of sustainable energy solutions, the study was funded with a one-year, $75,000 state grant and incorporates input from a dozen local sustainability experts. With the task force recommendations complete, the city is expected to work with the public over the next few months to determine which recommendations to implement and how.

On Wednesday Woodworth said the report consists of about 20 pages from cover to glossary, summarizing the task force’s package of recommendations that include four core principles to consider moving forward, eight strategies on which to focus core tactics, and some 50 ideas spread across them.

Woodworth says the report offers the city an invitation to look at rules and regulations in updating its comprehensive planning, though it is framed to lead with incentives, rather than mandates. “The idea for the city is to model the behavior you’re hoping to achieve yourself,” he said. Those behaviors could include:

Set goals for continuous improvement across all categories (renewable energy, clean mobility, etc.).

Emphasize renewable energy

Support clean mobility by directing the comprehensive plan accommodate mass transit center and corridors, the electrification of transit and alternative fuels.

Enabling optimal land use – the city has a lot of land that it doesn’t put to any particular use, so this could mean pea-patch gardens or other larger applications.

Conserve water. Pumping water, treating water, pumping it some more – all of this consumes extraordinary amounts of energy that could be put to other use.

Maximize energy efficiency

Optimize operating practices – everything from supply-chain management to bundling different services, perhaps electronically, so city staff isn’t driving around to make things happen.

Prepare through planning – although the city can’t anticipate the future, if they are thinking about it in terms of climate change and peak oil, it can minimize risk and maximize opportunities for what the future might bring.

According to one source familiar with the document, the task force recommends the city obtain 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, increasing the percentage of renewable energy use each year until that goal is achieved. Although 50 percent of the city’s current energy use is drawn from hydro power, the study suggests other sources as well. These could include everything from buying green tags or renewable energy credits to purchasing wind power, photovoltaic energy and bio-fuels.

With the task force’s work nearing completion, it will be up to elected officials and the public to set implementation goals. City staff will conduct a financial, technical and legal review and develop implementation guidelines, and Mayor Verner and the city council will determine how to fund them. In the meantime, public input on the process is welcome, beginning with the presentation of the recommendations during the March 30 city council meeting. We’ll post a link to the report as soon it becomes available online in the next couple of days. For more information visit


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