Sustainability

Introduction


Washington County recognizes the role and responsibility for public agencies to protect and conserve natural resources, use financial resources effectively and efficiently, and celebrate the achievements of a healthy and productive organization.

The overarching message for our sustainability program is simple and intuitive – that we need to think about the impact of our decisions and behaviors so that we not only have a healthy, vibrant and safe community today but also so that we can preserve the viability of future generations. Sustainability is a process of continual improvement, and Washington County is taking disciplined and thoughtful steps that are in the best interest of our organization and community.

County Policy


Washington County is committed to building upon and expanding its sustainability initiatives and practices, and recognizes the importance of providing leadership in this area as a reflection of effective public administration, health and well being of our community, and concern for future generations.  For our purposes, sustainability is defined as meeting current economic, social and environmental needs while ensuring that future generations can meet their needs.

The Washington County Board of County Commissioners formalized its commitment to sustainability by adopting a Resolution and Order (R& O) in support of that effort.  The 2009 R& O and framework attachment outlines the County's commitment to sustainable practices and is reflective of all three aspects of sustainability – environment, economy, and social equity.  The County's approach to sustainability is framed by four milestones: 1) assess opportunities; 2) create action plans; 3) implement action plans; and 4) evaluate and report results.  

Principles


With current and future generations in mind, a number of principles guide our actions:

  • Future Generations – consider the needs, health and opportunity of future residents and employees, while meeting current needs.
  • Stewardship – commit to the efficient and effective use of limited resources and serve as an example towards others. 
  • Accountability – ensure public funds provide priority infrastructure and services. Strive to get the most benefit from available resources through sound sustainability practices. 
  • Innovation – commit to best practices, continuous improvement and creativity. 
  • Prevention – promote  healthy and sustainable lifestyles and choices to prevent larger problems. 
  • Education – engage employees, public and policy makers in the goals, best practices, programs, roles and behaviors that optimize sustainable practices.
  • Shared Responsibility – encourage employees, residents, businesses and other community stakeholders to do their part. 
  • Collaboration – pursue partnerships and collaborative working relationships with public and private partners.

Objectives


We are advancing sustainable practices in our day-to-day operations with the following objectives in mind:

  • Realize economic and resource savings through the construction, operation and maintenance of high performance buildings and landscapes;
  • Enhance the fuel efficiency of County fleet vehicles and use of alternate fuels;
  • Enhance recycling rates in County operations and promote waste reduction at the source;
  • Develop sustainable procurement strategies for all operations where practicable; 
  • Emphasize land use planning, development, and building policies and practices that promote sustainable communities;
  • Protect and foster productive and healthy agriculture, greenspaces and natural resource lands;
  • Prioritize energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy;
  • Support transportation programs and infrastructure that address capacity, multimodal options, trip reduction and the use of public transportation and car pooling;
  • Invest in facilities, equipment, and durable goods that reflect the highest feasible efficiency and lowest life cycle costs;
  • Develop and implement communication and education plans to promote and report on the County's sustainability activities and "best practices;"
  • Support legislative and economic development initiatives consistent with the County's interests;
  • Participate with the Partners for a Sustainable Washington County Community and other colloborations to document "best practices", share information and develop collaborative programs and efforts;
  • Monitor and measure progress and report annually to the Board of County Commissioners.