Brookfield officials on Sept. 14 are expected to reaffirm the village’s commitment to implementing green initiatives, but won’t seek to be part of the Cool Cities program, a national campaign started by the Sierra Club in 2005 to reduce global warming.
Cool Cities participants endorse the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and then formulate an action plan to reduce carbon emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2012.
It’s a step that comes with a significant cost in staff time and money, according to Assistant Village Manager Keith Sbiral.
“I don’t believe we have the funding for it,” Sbiral told village trustees at their meeting on Aug. 10. “I recommend we keep this in the back of our minds and revisit it down the line in six months or a year in terms of getting the future designation.”
That doesn’t mean the village should give up on setting policies that address sustainability, Sbiral said. With or without the Cool Cities designation, Brookfield can make sustainability a priority.
Sbiral did recommend that Brookfield join the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), at a cost of $600 per year, and pass a resolution joining the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Greenest Region Compact.
Joining ICLEI will allow the village to tap into the group’s resources, such as computer software for auditing and tracking emissions and access to experts and training, to promote sustainable development and reduce greenhouse gasses.
The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Greenest Region Compact would be free to join and would connect the village with its network of volunteers, who can help with planning events or sustainability education programs locally.
But without a stick like the mayors’ agreement to prod them, Sbiral said there’s a danger that the village will put off making such decisions.
“Our hesitation is that it’s very easy to join a group for $600 and do nothing,” Sbiral said.
But with local funding unavailable for the larger step of signing on to the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, Sbiral said that officials should use the year to work with the Brookfield Cool Village Coalition, which is made up of local residents, and “look at our decisions through the lens of climate change and sustainability.”
Sue Williams, a member of the Cool Village Coalition, urged trustees to adopt Sbiral’s recommendations while expressing some regret that the village won’t be moving forward with the climate protection agreement.
“I, too, felt some pain, but I certainly understand where they’re coming from,” Williams said. “I think this will give us some valuable tools for moving forward toward being a green community.”
Riverside resident Thomas Jacobs, whose Riverside Sustainability Council addresses green initiatives in that village, said he would like to collaborate with the Brookfield Cool Village Coalition to raise awareness of the importance of sustainability in future planning.
“Once in a while, there are issues that require true leadership,” said Jacobs, addressing trustees. “Show true leadership at the risk of getting push-back from some members of the community. This is a chance to leave a legacy.
“We can help by making a case to the public.”
Village President Michael Garvey agreed with moving slowly at this time.
“I think we have to take the incremental steps and look forward in the future to take more,” Garvey said.