file5411347830378Individual action is not enough. It is also important for individuals to help get others involved, and to help build communities and towns that are environmentally and economically sustainable if the future is going to be as vibrant as our dreams. So the question is what can one person do to help create a more environmentally friendly community? Here are five simple ideas to get you started.

 Tip # 1: Talk to Your Neighbors

The only way that a sustainable community will survive is through communication. Many people find it easy to form groups- or circles based on a shared interest. Perhaps some people in your area are concerned about conserving water. Others may be interested in creating a more sustainable source for food for the less fortunate. You’d be amazed at what type of plans, actions, and results can come from this crucial step.

Tip # 2: Invest Locally

If you really want to promote the creation of a more sustainable community, you have to act. One of the easiest is to invest locally. Most people have learned the mantra of “think globally, shop locally” but there is more to that idea than just shopping at your local grocery store. The community needs more than just your dollar– it also needs your time, your expertise, and your skills. By taking the time to volunteer, shop, and share your skills with the local community, you do more than just keep the economic engine humming smoothly. Your investment allows others around you to have the time to do the same, and possibly help build the community that everyone envisions.

Tip # 3: Use District Heating

Since heating and cooling account for almost 2/3 of energy use for buildings, discovering an alternative to traditional heating methods can go a long way to promoting a more sustainable community. One possibility is to use the excess heat that is already inherently produced by nearby utilities or industries. District heating consists of a network of pipes that distributes heat from different areas in a community- and that heat can be used for hot water, space heating, and the use of absorption chillers can provide cool air in the summer. They are often more efficient- sometimes capturing and utilizing up to 90{5b6c00ae8a31f44c65b344f315968efbd322bfc6ea45e4e8cca9716c4473fad8} of the available energy. Plus the network can utilize multiple sources of energy- from natural gas turbines, solar power, and even bio-mass incinerators.

 Tip # 4: Promote Public Transportation

Public transportation can be one of the most cost effective, and environmentally friendly modes of getting around available. Talk to your city officials about expanding, improving, or even implementing a public transportation system in your area. If you something like “it’s not in the budget” give them a few reasons why it should be in the budget:

  • A viable public transit system promotes travel around area businesses, promoting more local sales and businesses
  • A viable public transit system can also form a sizable tax base- which could mean new income for the city.
  • More people using the public transportation system means the potential for less cars on the street, and less pollution overall. This in turn can be used to attract more economic opportunities.

 Tip # 5: Stay Accountable

Of course, all the different ideas in the world are no good without implementation. Whatever you ideas are, it’s important to make sure that you hold yourself- and others accountable for their creation and maintenance. Keep in touch with your local officials, industry leaders, and your neighbors and do what you can to make sure that your city or town continues the road to becoming one that is more environmentally friendly.