Develop an overarching entity / organization for existing environmentally-focused agencies to collaborate on sustainability programs and follow through on implementation.
Lexington’s neighboring cities have excellent examples for sustainability partnerships. The Partnership for a Green City represents a collaborative effort to improve sustainability internally and in the community by four of Louisville’s largest public entities, including Louisville Metro Government, University of Louisville, Jefferson County Public Schools and Jefferson Community & Technical College. The partnership, which began in 2004, employs over 30,000 people; enrolls over 135,000 students; owns more than 531 buildings with 30 million square feet of space; operates and maintains 7,000 fleet vehicles; and manages 25,135 acres of land in Louisville Metro, which is one-tenth of the land in the merged city-county. To the north of Lexington in Cincinnati, OH, the Green Umbrella is the leading alliance that facilitates collaboration among over 200 area non-profits, businesses, educational institutions and governmental entities focused on the environmental aspects of sustainability for the Greater Cincinnati area.
Based on these models, Bluegrass Forever Green, under Bluegrass Tomorrow, shares information and best practices while focusing on maximizing the collective impact of regional governments, organizations, non-profits, educational institutions and businesses in central Kentucky dedicated to environmental sustainability and improving quality of life and economic development in the Bluegrass. Bluegrass Forever Green focuses on local foods, clean water, energy, outdoor recreation and green spaces, waste, and recycling and transportation. Its mission is to further the goals of Bluegrass Tomorrow, a coalition of business, education, farming, development, and preservation interests dedicated to developing a regional unified vision. They focus on education, land use, job growth, and quality of life innovations, which leads to an environment that develops creative talent and where young professionals and entrepreneurship thrive.
The summit of Bluegrass Forever Green Sustainability Partnership was introduced in 2015, in collaboration with Bluegrass Greensource, and continues to sustain Bluegrass Forever with conservation, preservation and sustainability initiatives. Through the summit discussion, consensus was reached that the partnership would move forward with working teams focusing on: 1) Land, which includes the Equine Agriculture Initiative, visioning for the community’s next great land preservation program, and the National Park Service Rivers Trails Conservation Assistance Program, which plans for trails and greenways; 2) Water, including work with the Kentucky River Water Trails Alliance and River Blast Events; 3)Waste and recycling; 4) Energy; and 5) Local food and agriculture. The most recent summit on local food was held in December 2017, and the Regional Food Council Initiative was formed to help expand local food in the Bluegrass Region.
Lexington has strong programs focused on sustainability across the community, with Fayette County Public Schools, University of Kentucky, LFUCG Environmental Services and the Mayor’s office. Collaboration needs to be expanded as the programs continue to grow. Through the coordination of efforts and cooperation, a partnership between the largest stakeholders could realize real results that will have a long-term impact on the health, education, and well-being of Lexington citizens.
Responsibility to manage and maintain sustainable programs should be clarified. HOAs should be established to plant and maintain a lush landscape, which can help create a consistent and welcoming community. In the Lexington Urban Service Area, 84% land and trees are controlled by private property owners. Communicate with Planning and Urban Forestry to review 1-year or 5-year landscape status after development occurs, to ensure the plan is followed through and maintenance is in place.