|Article published Jan 4, 2008
PORTSMOUTH — In an effort to celebrate the city's attempt at becoming more environmentally friendly, members of the Blue Ribbon Committee on Sustainable Practices along with Mayor Steve Marchand gathered on Dec. 27 to pass the torch along to Mayor Elect Thomas Ferrini.
According to Bert Cohen, a member of the Mayor's Blue Ribbon committee, the Port City is the first "Eco-municipality" on the East coast and intends to base future development on four guidelines to help communities implement sustainable practices.
The guidelines were developed by the American Planning Association and consist of reducing dependence on fossil fuels and extracted underground metals and minerals; reducing dependence on chemicals and other manufactured substances that can accumulate in nature; reducing dependence on activities that harm life-sustaining ecosystems; and to meet the hierarchy of present and future human need fairly and efficiently.
"We're looking at how we can support policies that will help move us toward sustainability," said Bert Cohen.
He added that recognizing the four guidelines is vital in providing a safe and healthy community for the youth that will one day inherit the surrounding community and environment.
Ferrini believes that continuing Marchand's efforts is all a part of the community fabric and said the committee has already accomplished much. He called the efforts "crucial" in making sure that the community becomes more sustainable.
"I'm very pleased that the incoming mayor, Mayor Elect Ferrini shares my enthusiasm and the committees enthusiasm for being a leader on municipal sustainable practices," said Marchand.
The outgoing mayor also said he believes Ferrini will be a great mayor in that respect, adding that the group is ultimately trying to maintain a long-term commitment that focuses on alternative energy sources and maintaining sustainability.
"We focus so much on replacing energy sources that we don't put enough emphasis on reducing the total amount of energy that we consume," said Marchand.
He used the new green library as an example of finding innovative ways to reduce the city's dependence on energy overall and said that getting in touch with "our roots' and getting a local perspective will benefit the environment as well as the local economy.
Marchand also emphasized that community involvement was essential in making sustainability more of a reality, while helping establish the committee.
"They are a very talented group of people," he said of the committee.
The idea behind an "Eco-municipality" originated in Sweden in 1983 when the first eco-friendly community was founded in Overtornea. The concept quickly spread across the European nation and landed in the United States shortly thereafter.
Building green infrastructure, providing affordable housing, open space preservation, recycling, climate change initiatives and smart growth initiatives are just some of the ways a community can become more eco-friendly.
"We need to work together to make changes and we also need to make sure we ensure that we leave a healthy place for our children and grandkids," said Cohen.
A sustainability study circle celebration and action planning will take place at the library on Jan. 12, 2008 from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.