How Municipalities Can Be Better Stewards of the Environment
Sustainability and environmental consciousness have been buzzwords in our society for many years, but there is plenty of room for continuous improvement, especially for our cities, towns, and municipalities. If you’re responsible for making decisions about how public properties are cared for, how energy can be conserved, or how property is allocated, you have the power to make a big difference in our world’s environment. Here are a few ways municipalities can be better stewards of our natural resources.
Use a Minimum Risk Exempt Herbicide
Municipalities are responsible for public parks as well as the landscaping around government buildings, libraries, and post offices. In order to keep these properties looking well-kept, herbicides are required to keep weeds under control. Your choice of herbicide has a significant impact on the health, safety, and well-being of local citizens.
Although glyphosate-based herbicides have been the most popular herbicide choice, the World Health Organization reported in March 2015 that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Currently, thousands of lawsuits are working their way through our legal system against a major glyphosate manufacturer.
Many alternative products labeled as “natural” or “organic” have entered the market, but it’s important to consider their effectiveness as well as their toxicity. Instead, municipalities should be seeking herbicides labeled as “minimum risk exempt.” This U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designation has strict requirements regarding the active and inert ingredients. Only about 50 natural ingredients are permitted in minimum risk exempt products.
Encourage Energy Efficiency
Whether city officials regulate energy usage or implement tax incentives to encourage conservation and the use of sustainable fuels, they have a great deal of power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in this area. If you’re responsible for managing utilities such as electricity, cooling, heating, and water usage, you might consider technology such as smart heating and cooling systems that automatically adjust temperatures and energy usage based on occupancy.
Other sustainable decisions may include installing solar panels along the exterior of the building, replacing conventional air conditioners and furnaces with heat pumps, improving insulation, and using LED light bulbs.
Increase City Green Space
Most cities have a great deal of concrete and man-made building materials in a small area in order to allow thousands of people to live and work in close proximity. This can result in air pollution as well as a several-degree increase in temperature in the center city.
One thing that many municipalities are doing to combat this situation is to increase green space. Cities can protect certain areas of publicly owned land from development in order to create public parks and other recreational areas. Green top roofs and green walls also provide spaces for plants, grasses, and small trees to clean city air and add life-giving oxygen to a densely populated area.
Municipalities and city officials have an opportunity to make a big difference in caring for our environment and planning for a more sustainable future. By choosing things like minimum risk exempt herbicides, reducing energy consumption, and increasing green space, government employees can help reduce greenhouse emissions, clean up the air, and conserve limited natural resources.