Environmental Management in the City of Ann Arbor
The City of Ann Arbor’s approach to environmental management is comprehensive and multi-faceted. Policies and initiatives undertaken by the government on land use planning, development, water quality, natural area preservation, alternative fuels, and greenhouse gas emissions create a more sustainable city. Each new policy or initiative directly impacts the environmental quality and public health in the City and beyond. New policies are developed based on City Council direction. Ideas for new policies come from several sources including residents, boards and commissions, staff, and policy initiatives developed in other cities.
The interdisciplinary Environmental Management Team includes key city staff from multiple units and service areas.
The Environmental Commission is comprised of 13 members of the public appointed by City Council and includes representatives from the Energy Commission, Parks Advisory Commission, and Planning Commission. The role of the commission is to make recommendations on environmental policy to the City Council.
The Systems Planning unit, a staff unit in Public Services, was created as a multi-disciplinary unit staffed with diverse experience in solid waste and recycling, energy and alternative fuels, flood mitigation, natural features protection, land use and transportation planning, geographic information systems, infrastructure management and planning, environmental protection, urban forestry, and water quality.
Environmental Action Plan (EAP)
The City of Ann Arbor is developing an Environmental Action Plan (EAP). Over the long term this plan will provide a clear and comprehensive guide for improving environmental quality within Ann Arbor and the region. The plan will align key city projects with our environmental goals and intermediate objectives.
The City already is continuing to lay the groundwork for attaining these goals. Recently, the City Council passed a resolution to increase renewable energy use by 20% for the entire community by the year 2015. This is the first step to attaining 100% Renewable Energy Use in the City. Furthermore, Ann Arbor has steadily increased its recycling rate. We now recycle nearly 50% of waste generated in the City – halfway to attaining the goal of achieving Zero Waste in landfills or incinerators. City staff, the Environmental Commission, and City Council will continue to set priorities on how resources can be efficiently used to attain the goals while balancing social equity and economic concerns.
Investing in our Environment
Many of the objectives included in this report may require substantial upfront costs to fully realize the desired environmental outcomes. However, many actions that result from this plan are expected to save the City money over the longterm with longer paybacks through decreased operational costs and/or reduced energy consumption. Yet basic economics should not be and is not the only rationale for the City’s decisions. Many decisions and purchases we make do not fully take into account the true costs to society and the environment. For example, auto drivers pay gas taxes to offset road costs, but the gas taxes are not structured to cover the environmental and the public health costs incurred by auto use. Beyond the economics of a decision, the City of Ann Arbor seeks to improve and protect the quality of life of its citizens in the context of a greater region because it believes that there is intrinsic value to improving environmental quality.