The WVSC Step-by-Step Process is a process model aligned with a plan–do–check–act cycle for carrying out positive changes in the community. The WVSC Step-by-Step Process enhances performance and provides feedback for continual improvement. The WVSC Step-by-Step Process includes generating awareness, assessment, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and process enhancement.
The process starts with sustainability awareness training for community leadership, establishment of a Sustainability Team, and distribution of outreach and educational materials in an effort to engage community residents and generate support for the program.
What is a Sustainability Team: Sustainability Team is a group of local residents and community leaders that come together to focus on community sustainability.
Outreach and Education Materials: Outreach and education materials help community Sustainability Teams engage and inform community residents.
Assessment of the Community
WVSC staff will work with the community to assess sustainability opportunities and conduct a greenhouse gas emissions inventory to identify resource-use efficiencies and inefficiencies.
Sustainability Assessments: Research and assessment of environmental, economic, and social equity challenges within the jurisdiction, and the programs in place to address these issues.
Community Visioning: Community visioning is the process by which a community envisions the future it wants through meaningful public participation to distill the values and priorities that will contribute to a sustainable future.
Develop a Plan
Your community and Sustainability Team will set a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, and collaborate with WVSC staff to create a Sustainability Action Plan. The Plan lists actions (e.g., policies, programs, projects, etc.) to be implemented to help the community meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target and other sustainability goals as envisioned by the community.
Sustainability Action Plan: A Sustainability Action Plan is a documented framework which ties together a community’s vision, goals, strategies, implementation plans and indicators for improving sustainability.
Vision Statement: A vision is a broad statement of the desired outcome for a target community or audience.
Goals: Goals refine a vision down into its component parts and further define the desired outcome in a number of categories.
Indicators and Targets: Indicators are trend statistics that help track progress toward goals and assess the impact of actions.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Targets: The reduction target is the specific GHG emissions reduction goal that your local government and community aim to achieve by a designated year.
Sustainability Action Plan vs. Municipal Master Plan: Actions under the umbrella of the Sustainability Action Plan address a broad community planning process separate from the municipal Master Plan.
WVSC staff will provide workshops, training, and networking resources to communities to guide them through the implementation process outlined in the Sustainability Action Plan. WVSC staff will support the community in coordinating how each action will be implemented by tracking the time frame, costs, and roles and responsibilities.
Implementation: WVSC staff will provide workshops and trainings to communities to guide them to implement the Sustainability Action Plan.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Tools and resources will be used to track water and energy conservation, waste management, pollution prevention, and financial savings throughout the process. Implementation progress and success factors will continually be monitored and evaluated by WVSC staff and the community.
Monitoring: Monitoring provides constant feedback on the progress of a project, the problems it is facing, and the efficiency with which it is being implemented.
Evaluation: Evaluation studies the outcome of a project with the aim of informing the design of future projects.
Communities will improve upon their existing Sustainability Action Plans based on the analyses of results. Even when the initial Sustainability Action Plan is successful, this last step ensures that communities will continue to incorporate new ideas to realize a continual improvement process.
Additional Definitions of WVSC Step-By-Step Process
Sustainability Team is a group of local residents and community leaders that come together to focus on community sustainability. They are a neutral, unbiased group of volunteers representing homeowners, business, industry, civic organizations, and local government. Sustainability Teams are organized to give the community a voice on sustainability issues, help to guide the WVSC process, and eventually assume the entire scope of the WVSC process by engaging the local community in actions to promote environmental, economic, and social well-being.
Outreach and education materials include displays, posters, brochures, and fact sheets with conservation information to help community Sustainability Teams engage and inform community residents. Conservation Starter Kits include compact fluorescent lamps (CFL’s), low-flow aerators, and reusable shopping/carrying bags to help community residents start saving energy and water, and reducing waste.
Assessment of the Community
WVSC staff will support a communities’ Sustainability Team to lead a sustainability assessment and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory project. WVSC staff and the Sustainability Team will conduct the sustainability assessment by determining how to apply the “Nine Opportunities for Sustainability” to the community.
A local government needs to first research and assess environmental, economic, and social equity challenges within the jurisdiction, and the programs in place to address these issues. The sustainability assessment includes a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and forecast for local government operations and the community as a whole and takes into account other key sustainability indicators. The assessment is used to gather baseline data and to identify the challenges to be addressed in the plan.
Similar to an energy audit before retrofitting a building, the GHG emissions analysis lets a community know what activities are causing GHG emissions and the quantity each of these activities is contributing, both now and in the future. In examining the GHG emissions baseline and forecast, a community gains some of the information needed for choosing strategic actions and designing an effective GHG emissions reduction plan.
The baseline emissions inventory consists of two separate analyses – one evaluating activities in the residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and waste sectors in a community, and the other focused on local government buildings, fleet vehicles, and operations. This baseline identifies how many tons of GHG emissions come from each of these sectors.
Community visioning is the process by which a community envisions the future it wants through meaningful public participation. Community engagement helps to distill the values and priorities that will contribute to a sustainable future. Visioning initiatives are the inspirational starting point for a comprehensive sustainability planning process. The visioning process evaluates the community as it currently exists, identifies what is valued in the community, and encourages stakeholders to imagine where they would like the community to be in ten or twenty years. This shared vision creates the basis for developing goals and completing actions that move the community toward an ideal, sustainable community. Typically the community vision will be used to guide personal behaviors, government decisions, and the establishment of community plans and programs. It is essential to develop indicators and targets to track progress toward each goal, as well as targets for achievement.
Develop a Plan
A Sustainability Action Plan is a documented framework which ties together a community’s vision, goals, strategies, implementation plans – including actions and targets - and indicators for improving sustainability.
The Sustainability Action Plan is a description of the actions – policies, programs, and projects – a local government and community will take to apply the “Nine Opportunities for Sustainability” and meet its GHG reduction target. The Action Plan does not need to be a long document and it can be incorporated into another plan or document a local government is preparing such as an air quality improvement plan, master plan, or general plan. In addition to listing actions to be implemented, the plan should also discuss how each action will be implemented via a timeline, financing, and assignment of responsibility to departments, staff, or community residents.
Once goals and targets have been identified, actions answer the question of “How will we get there?” Action steps are the programs, policies, and projects that will be adopted to achieve the goals set by the Sustainability Action Plan.
A vision is a broad statement of the desired outcome for a target community or audience. It should be specific enough to guide goal-setting activities and to describe what life might be like if the vision were implemented, but broad enough to encompass many goals and implementation strategies. It often encompasses organizing themes like sustainable development, healthy communities, or quality of life.
Goals refine a vision down into its component parts and further define the desired outcome in a number of categories, such as health, natural resources, equity, transportation, etc. A goal should be broad enough to show relationships with other goals, and be able to act as an umbrella for a bundle of related issues, implementation strategies, and indicators. The goals are the organizing framework for the plan and the community’s efforts as well as a description of desired ends.
Indicators help track progress toward goals and assess the impact of actions. If the municipality is successfully implementing its programs but the indicators are not showing progress, it is time to reassess the programs.
Indicators are trend statistics that provide information to citizens and decision makers on issues that are important, but often are not easy to monitor. Citizens cannot simply sniff the air or taste the water to know if conditions are changing in important ways. As a result, important public issues such as air quality, water quality, species diversity, equity issues, housing, and many other subjects are low on policy agendas or go unnoticed well beyond the point where strong action may have been required.
Since indicators are quantitative, a community is also able to set specific targets to show what level of improvement is desired, and enable everyone to know when success has been achieved.
Finally, indicators take abstract goals and visions and make them comprehensible. By selecting and measuring key trends, everyone in the municipality, from department heads to residents, can understand what the community is trying to achieve and what progress is and is not being made. Indicators are a powerful communication tool for government.
The reduction target is the specific GHG emissions reduction goal that your local government and community aim to achieve by a designated year. It is usually expressed as a percentage reduction below the quantity of emissions released in the baseline year. Almost all of the local governments participating in ICLEI’s CCP Campaign establish GHG emissions reduction targets at 10-15 percent to be met within a 10-15 year period.
Actions under the umbrella of the Sustainability Action Plan address a broad community planning process separate from the municipal Master Plan. A municipal Master Plan directs the future development of the municipality and typically focuses on issues related to land use, while a Sustainability Action Plan may include actions related to energy use or influencing individual behaviors. Although the Sustainability Action Plan tracks a variety of conditions and guides actions to improve those conditions, it may also include elements related to community development. For this reason, after developing a Sustainability Action Plan, municipalities should ensure consistency between their Sustainability Action Plan and municipal Master Plan.
No plan is worth its salt unless it is implemented. Implementing the actions is an on-going process that will probably last through the target date—but the key point is to keep taking action until the goal is reached. WVSC staff will support and assist the community in the implementation of the Sustainability Action Plan.
WVSC staff will provide workshops and trainings to communities to guide them to implementation of the Sustainability Action Plan. WVSC will connect communities with local and national resources and organizations that provide workshops and trainings on sustainability issues.
Additional workshops and trainings will be offered to discuss Water Conservation; Energy Conservation; Solid Waste and Hazardous Waste Reduction, Recycling, and Elimination; Pollution Prevention; and Sustainability Concepts and Principles (i.e., Energy Management Systems, Smart Growth, Low Impact Development, and Green Buildings).
Monitoring is performed while a project is being implemented with the aim of improving the project design and function while in action. Information gathered through this type of evaluation is used to make some important changes in the project. It is designed to provide constant feedback on the progress of a project, the problems it is facing, and the efficiency with which it is being implemented.
An evaluation studies the outcome of a project with the aim of informing the design of future projects. It is used mainly to help in the selection and design of future projects. Evaluation can assess the extent to which the project produced the intended impacts and the distribution of the benefits between different groups. Evaluation can also highlight the cost-effectiveness of the project as compared to other options.
Evaluation and Monitoring can:
- Provide constant feedback;
- Identify potential problems;
- Monitor the Efficiency;
- Improve project design;
- Show need for mid-course corrections;
- Evaluate achievement of general objectives; and
- Incorporate views of stakeholders.
Monitoring and Evaluating Urban Development Programs, A Handbook for Program Managers and Researchers. Bamberger, Michael and Hewitt, Eleanor. World Bank Technical Paper no 53. (Washington, D.C.: 1986)