Janesville group considering Green Tier program for city

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Saturday, May 14, 2011
— The Sustainable Janesville Committee thinks it has found a map to guide the city on the path of becoming a true eco-municipality.

The Green Tier program was created by several non-governmental organizations—including 1000 Friends of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin League of Municipalities—in partnership with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Several communities already have signed on, including Appleton, Bayfield, Fitchburg and Middleton.

The program is free and is designed to save the city time and money, said Al Hulick, city staff member, and Julie Backenkeller, committee member.

Janesville City Council members are invited to attend Tuesday’s committee meeting to hear about the program from Steve Hiniker, executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

It was the council that directed the committee to create a green-action plan. The goal is to improve environmental practices in the city, Backenkeller said.

“We made the decision in ’08 to become an eco-municipality,” she said. “We need to move forward in that resolution.”

That means thinking about the way the community operates in regard to the planet and the quality of life for its residents, she added.

Every decision the council makes should have a sustainability element built in, Backenkeller said.

Janesville would be required to sign a contract with the state to become a Green Tier community.

In doing so, it would have to agree to pursue environmental excellence by implementing strategies and increasing efficiencies at the local level, Hiniker said.

In return, the city would gain regulatory flexibility and other assistance.

For example, Janesville might decide to replace some of its vehicles with more efficient ones. In this case the city could get help finding potential vendors and technical advice, and also in finding other ways to save money, Hiniker said.

The contract forces a city to decide whether it is an eco-municipality or not, Hiniker said. If it decides it is not, “then it can just fess up to everybody that they are not interested,” he said. “It’s accountability.”

Janesville has $25,000 in stimulus money to pay for staff time to implement the program, Hulick said. Staff believes this route is a better one than hiring a consultant to write the city’s own green plan at a cost of $75,000.

“It’s a process-changing mechanic where we can change the way we do business and increase efficiency and save money,” Hulick said. “That’s the ultimate goal.”

If you go

The Sustainable Janesville Committee will meet with members of the Janesville City Council at 7 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St.

Last updated: 5:13 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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