REGIONAL SUSTAINABILITY AGENDA

2021-2024

OUR AGENDA

The Regional Sustainability Agenda (RSA) is the guiding document for MORPC’s sustainability-focused programming and committees, and it provides the framework for members and regional partners to work toward common goals. The RSA details goals and measurable objectives that make Central Ohio a better place for all of its residents and actions that promote a sustainable and equitable region.

Sustainable2050, a recognition and technical assistance program that supports MORPC members in their sustainability efforts, is directly tied to the goals and objectives of the Regional Sustainability Agenda. The Regional Sustainability Dashboard is the official tool for tracking regional progress toward the RSA goals.

VISION AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES

The Regional Sustainability Agenda helps to position Central Ohio and its local communities as national leaders in sustainability through creative partnerships, enabling innovative solutions and flexible processes. It aligns MORPC’s services to bring value, best practices, and collaboration to local government members.

Each goal and objective will be data-driven and guided by underlying principles related to resiliency, equity and diversity, public health and well-being, and collaboration — ensuring sustainable impacts reach all communities within our region and providing prosperity for all.

Equity Resources — Equity resources were developed to inform the sustainability initiatives of regional members and partners:

  • Integrating Equity in Sustainability Planning provides a checklist to support the integration of equity considerations with the planning and implementation of regional or local sustainability efforts.
  • Equity in Sustainability Planning: Frameworks, Best Practices and Resources is a resource guide designed to illuminate the important equity considerations in the implementation of the RSA goals and objectives and provide examples of best practices and data resources. 

GOAL ONE

Improve air quality and reduce climate change impacts to protect public health and the environment.

OBJECTIVES

  • Create development practices and regulations that reduce the need for vehicle travel. Examples include encouraging mixed-use development, increased density, and shared or reduced parking among neighboring businesses.
  • Adopt a Complete Streets policy.
  • Prioritize proximitiy to transit stops, multi-use paths, and sidewalks in site-selection decisions. Examples include siting within a quarter-mile of a transit stop.
  • Promote and participate in Gohio Commute or other programs to encourage mode-shift among commuters.
  • Provide workplace incentives to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transportation including transit, biking, walking, and ridesharing.
  • Create a telecommuting policy that supports a diverse workplace and employee needs.
  • Achieve Green Fleet Certification through Clean Fuels Ohio.
  • Create an alternative fuel vehicle fleet policy and/or replace gas-powered vehicles with alternative fuel and electric vehicles.
  • Leverage collective buying power to accelerate conversion of fleets.
  • Develop incentives to encourage the public to use alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure.
  • Install widespread public charging and alternative fuel stations to support electric vehicle and alternative fuel vehicle use in all neighborhoods.
  • Collaborate on a regional approach for electric vehicle infrastructure planning with priority for equitable distribution.
  • Complete energy audit(s) to identify energy saving opportunities.
  • Implement energy efficient improvements in buildings, facilities, and fleets.
  • Promote PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) and other tools to support energy efficiency and clean energy improvements.
  • Conduct education and outreach to encourage energy efficient improvements and practices.
  • Create and/or participate in behavior-change programs that reduce energy consumption.
  • Engage minority, disadvantaged, small, and women-owned businesses to address energy needs.
  • Benchmark energy use in buildings to manage and track energy performance and to inform energy plans/investments.
  • Prioritize energy performance and sustainability in the design and construction of existing and new builds.
  • Update local codes, zoning, and permitting processes to encourage local renewable energy generation.
  • Install solar systems on properties and facilities.
  • Establish a clean energy procurement program for your organization or community.
  • Support community solar and other programs to provide renewable energy opportunities and associated jobs in low- to moderate-income communities.
  • Achieve SolSmart designation to encourage solar development.
  • Conduct a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory in order to establish a baseline and track emissions.
  • Create and/or implement a plan that includes GHG emission goals and strategies for meeting the goals.
  • Implement inclusive outreach and engagement strategies that encourage input from marginalized communities to shape beneficial solutions.
  • Implement programs that target greenhouse gas emissions from muncipal/organizational sources as well as community sources (using any of the above strategies that reduce emissions from transportation and building energy).
  • Implement programs that reduce vehicle miles traveled and single occupant vehicle travel by focusing on sustainable modes and mode-shift.
  • Implement/support air quality monitors at the neighborhood level to collect pollution data, and identify where the disparities occur in order to target local solutions for improving air quality.
  • Adopt an idle-free vehicle policy.
  • Replace gas-powered lawn equipment with battery and electric-powered equipment.
  • Establish an Air Quality Alert day action plan to mimimize emissions when high-pollution days are forecasted. Strategies include refueling vehicles in the morning or after dark, refraining from using gas-powered lawn equipment, no vehicle idling, and maintaining proper tire pressure in vehicles.
  • Establish a communication or outreach process to inform staff and partners about air quality forecasts and alerts, and encourage strategies to reduce pollution.

GOAL TWO

Protect and preserve natural resources to support a healthy and resilient region.

OBJECTIVES

  • Implement community-wide curbside recycling.
  • Promote food waste prevention, and implement food waste rescue and composting programs.
  • Implement public outreach and education to support waste prevention and diversion activities. Examples include Recycle Right and Save More than Food.
  • Create a zero waste policy for events and provide supporting resources.
  • Support re-use or donation of items such as computers, with priority for donations going to organizations serving low-income residents.
  • Develop policies that require new commercial construction projects to allocate space for recycling collection containers.
  • Develop a community materials management plan to set waste reduction and diversion goals.
  • Establish a procurement policy or guidance to encourage products made from recycled, biodegradable, and compostable materials.
  • Implement waste reduction and diversion practices in all facilities.
  • Update water fixtures, toilets, and appliances with water-efficient models (WaterSense label).
  • Monitor for and repair water leaks in buildings and more broadly in water infrastructure.
  • Implement education and outreach programs across diverse audiences to encourage behavior changes that reduce water consumption and save money.
  • Target incentives and resources toward low-income households to aid in reducing water consumption and bills (such as free low-flow showerheads, etc.).
  • Install rain barrels or other best practices to recycle rainwater and promote available programs to encourage community participation.
  • Utilize green infrastructure best practices to reduce flooding and stormwater pollution. Examples include rain gardens, bioswales, permeable pavement, and vegetated buffers.
  • Preserve stream corridors, flood plains, wetlands, and native buffers along waterways.
  • Utilize organic alternatives for pest and weed control.
  • Plant native trees, shrubs, and perennials.
  • Host/participate in activities such as river clean-ups, invasive plant removal, storm drain labeling, or other community activities that improve local waterways.
  • Prioritize implementation of water quality improvements to benefit all neighborhoods, especially in underserved areas. Activities may include siting green infrastructure, plantings, river clean-up locations, educational outreach, and areas with consistent home septic treatment system failures.
  • Implement pollution prevention strategies and train staff to prevent polluted runoff from maintenance and storage facilities, parking lots, fleet and building management, and storage of waste.
  • Collaborate with communities and stakeholders across the region to support comprehensive water quality monitoring and increased data resources to better target solutions.
  • Participate in programs and partnerships to support best management practices that reduce pollution from agricultural runoff. Examples may include partnerships with OSU county extension agents, U.S. Department of Agriculture, or American Farmland Trust.
  • Utilize and/or promote federal, state, and local programs that fund preservation.
  • Establish a tree canopy policy or plan for protecting, maintaining, and expanding the local tree canopy on public and private property.
  • Prioritize protection and/or restoration of natural areas in underserved communities and areas lacking green space in order to create equitable environmental benefits.
  • Include natural resources and ecosystem preservation in local community plans, policies, and practices.
  • Create/maintain pollinator and wildlife habitats where feasible in public spaces and/or on managed properties.
  • Include strategies to support agriculture and food production in community and comprehensive plans.
  • Utilize a balanced and strategic approach for development, with priority areas identified for conservation, development and agriculture in community plans.
  • Support local food through institutional purchasing, farmer’s markets, etc.
  • Utilize conservation easements, agricultural protection zones, and other tools to protect valuable agricultural assets.
  • Target financial tools to incentivize farmland preservation.

GOAL THREE

Improve the quality of life for all residents by creating sustainable and equitable communities.

OBJECTIVES

  • Implement infrastructure projects that improve safety along the high-injury network and/or at high-crash locations.
  • Commit to Vision Zero strategies with a “safe system” approach to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries.
  • Prioritize safety improvements in underserved neighborhoods where higher rates of fatalities and injuries occur.
  • Conduct education and outreach across diverse audiences about distracted driving.
  • Establish processes or policies that prioritize filling gaps in sidewalk coverage and crosswalks.
  • Establish processes or policies that prioritize transit and bikeway infrastructure access.
  • Establish connections among pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure.
  • Expand and create a low-stress network for non-motorists to improve the user level of comfort.
  • Prioritize investments in areas where there are disparities in sidewalk coverage and areas underserved by a multi-modal transportation system.
  • Implement/support initiatives that enhance mobility options for seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Adopt a multi-use trail plan and ensure implementation of and access to the Regional Trail Vision.
  • Prioritize infrastructure investments to construct trail network segments, and close gaps in the trail network to increase trail miles, connectivity, and accessibility.
  • Increase safety and accessibility of routes to parks and trails.
  • Prioritize trail and trail access investments in accordance with the Regional Trail Prioritization.
  • Include parkland acquisition in community plans and budgets, and prioritize areas where there are gaps in parks/trails access.
  • Implement inclusive public engagement and outreach to reflect the needs of the residents in park design.
  • Promote and increase participation in utility energy efficiency programs, including free programs for income-qualified households such as the Columbia Gas of Ohio WarmChoice program.
  • Target resources, tools, and outreach programs to address energy consumption in areas with unaffordable household energy burden.
  • Collaborate on solar development and other initiatives to attract clean energy investments and jobs in underserved neighborhoods.
  • Encourage lead testing and educational programs to reduce lead exposure in underserved communities.
  • Implement lead service line replacement.
  • Implement or promote existing lead abatement and safety programs for housing.
  • Conduct soil testing to identify potential causes of elevated lead levels.

GOAL FOUR

Promote robust, inclusive and sustainable growth and development.

OBJECTIVES

  • Promote and/or participate in GreenSpot, Smart Columbus Acceleration Program, or other sustainability-focused workplace programs.
  • Support and promote businesses with sustainable practices, products, and services.
  • Create sustainability programming and resources to support the needs of diverse businesses.
  • Target tools and resources to advance sustainable practices or direct businesses to available tools and resources.
  • Include infill and redevelopment in zoning code and/or community plans.
  • Use a fix-it-first strategy to maintain and repair existing infrastructure.
  • Retrofit and preserve existing buildings, housing, and structures wherever possible.
  • Update land-use policies and zoning codes to encourage mixed-use development and density.
  • Prioritize infrastructure investments in underserved communities with the greatest need.
  • Develop a Local Housing Action Agenda based on the Regional Housing Strategy.
  • Preserve existing affordable and naturally occurring affordable housing.
  • Target financial tools and incentives toward development of housing to serve low- to moderate-income households.
  • Promote and collaborate with workforce development programs that create job opportunities focused in underserved communities.
  • Target tools and resources to support innovation and new green businesses.
  • Create policies or guidelines to support environmentally-friendly purchasing and contracting.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

BRANDI WHETSTONE

Sustainability Officer
Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission
bwhetstone@morpc.org

KERSTIN CARR

Director, Planning & Sustainability
Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission
kcarr@morpc.org

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