A community sustainability plan is a road-map for making a community a socially fair, economically strong, and environmentally healthy place to live, work, and play.
Developed in consultation with community members, a community sustainability plan is a long-term plan to help the community realize its collective sustainability goals. The plan also employs indicators to track progress towards these goals, and includes action plans that have roles for government, citizens, businesses, and civic organizations. The overarching vision of a sustainability plan and its specific actions can be very different from one community to another, depending on local priorities, resources, and opportunities.
A community sustainability plan should look at a variety of factors that can affect a community and should lay out actions related to those factors. It can look at issues such as climate change, greenhouse gasses, natural areas, and conservation.
A climate vulnerability assessment and action plan assesses the likely effects of increasing temperatures, sea level rise and heavy rainfall caused by climate change on infrastructure, homes, businesses, public health, and quality of life. The assessment and planning process engages citizens to develop goals, assess risks, and propose additional studies, policies or on-the-ground actions to adapt to changing climate conditions. Delaware has state-specific climate historical data and projections that can be used for assessment and planning by local governments.
A greenhouse gas inventory is a measurement of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by residents, schools, businesses, and industries in a given year. The greenhouse gas inventory can be conducted at the government operation scale or the community scale. The greenhouse gas inventory can be used as a proxy to find energy inefficiencies and identify opportunities for operational improvement. The inventory can be reported publicly to build awareness and support for actions that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
With the information gathered in a greenhouse gas inventory, municipalities can create a mitigation plan for reducing energy inefficiencies and greenhouse gas emissions. A mitigation plan is a set of strategies and actions designed to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of a municipality. It establishes a timeline for achieving specific emission reduction goals, identifies key strategies for achieving these goals, and tracks progress. With a mitigation plan, organizations and agencies can identify which strategies will most significantly reduce greenhouse gasses at the lowest cost. This helps communities allocate funding and resources effectively.
A natural areas inventory compiles and describes important natural resources such as forests, wetlands, surface and ground waters, and farmland within a community. It can also provide information about the economic, social, and public health benefits of maintain a community’s natural areas. Cultural resources, such as historic sites, scenic vistas, and recreation areas are often included as well. A conservation plan specifies actions that can be taken to protect important natural resources in a community and to augment their benefits to the community. This information provides the foundation for open space planning and protection, zoning updates, designation of critical environmental areas, flooding and drainage plans, green infrastructure implementation, comprehensive plans, and other municipal plans and policies.