This December, New Haven will compete for the state’s highest award in the sport of sustainability.

On Wednesday night, members of New Haven’s Environment Advisory Council discussed the city efforts in sustainability over the past year and the upcoming release of the Sustainable Connecticut city ratings. Sustainable CT was created in 2017 by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities to set policy guidelines for local level sustainable growth.

New Haven submitted its application in April of this year, following a lengthy application process in which it compiled the presentation of many of its achievements, many of which have been carried out by city committees like the EAC and the city’s Energy Task Force.

“We think we deserve it,” Laura Cahn, Chairwoman of the Council told the News. “The EAC is all about advocating for good in every way we can, and we are all for exciting people about the environment.”

The Sustainable CT initiative assigns applicant cities ratings based on how well they implemented local policies throughout the past year. To qualify for recognition from Sustainable CT, the city must complete as few as nine “actions,” or local projects, that spread over nine categories. The categories require cities to focus on a wide array of local policies including transportation system improvement/diversification, workforce redevelopment, as well as sharpening their land and natural resource efforts. Last year, the EAC’s efforts helped land the city of New Haven a Bronze Award from the organization in their Sustainability Initiative.

“We all have verted knowledge and expertise,” Cahn said, referencing to the diversity of community members and committees that have participated in the “actions” that make up New Haven’s application.

New Haven’s 2018 application included community efforts such as a “Buy Local” campaign, a tree canopy map and a Community Food Indicators project. Last year marked the first time New Haven applied for recognition. Their application landed the city Sustainable CT’s second-highest merit, the Bronze Award. At the same time, other similarly sized cities including Hartford, Stamford and Fairfield all came home with the Initiative’s most coveted Silver Award.

Despite last year’s award, the city is hungry to further improve its sustainability efforts. Project manager Dawn Henning submitted the council’s application in April in the hopes that new actions completed by EAC can contribute to a Silver Award for the city.

In this year’s application cycle, EAC initiatives such as a spring citywide children’s art contest and a resolution in support of Community Choice Aggregation were added to the city’s application. According to Cahn, the resolutions in favor of CCA like the one proposed seek to pressure the state to pass legislation enabling municipalities like New Haven to circumvent electricity companies and negotiate electricity prices with providers themselves.

Also important to the Nutmeg City’s 2019 effort is a complete transition of city buildings, such as City Hall and the Board of Education building to renewable energy. The city’s Climate Emergency Mobilization Task Force headed the city’s efforts towards increased renewable energy use.

“We’re buying 100 percent electric, 100 percent renewable resources,” Ward 14 Alder Salvatore DeCola, who sits on both the EAC and the Energy Task Force told the News. “We’re doing something good.”

Earlier this year, the city hired its broker to only buy renewable energy, said DeCola. The Aldeman also emphasized the cost-saving benefits that accompany the new renewable energy contract for the city. He said the city could save money barring an unexpected surge in energy use, as it will also now buy 65 percent of the energy at a fixed price — in years past the city only purchased 50 percent.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities will release the awards on Dec. 3.

Emiliano Goméz |