The Applied Sustainability Center is committed to building a more sustainable world through research, education, and outreach.
The mission of the Applied Sustainability Center is to accelerate learning about sustainability and expand the commitment to sustainable practices in communities and organizations throughout the state of Arkansas.
The Applied Sustainability Center works to accelerate learning about sustainability and expand the commitment to sustainable practices in the public and private sectors. The center hosts a variety of innovative education and outreach programs for policy makers, business leaders, students and the general public designed to increase energy, climate and sustainability literacy.
Sustainable Energy Scorecards and Education for Municipalities: We create†an Energy Scorecard for each participating†city that can be used as a baseline to inform local energy efficiency and renewable energy priorities. Each city sends its Energy Leaders Team to the Summer Energy Academy for two days to learn about local energy policy tools and resources that cities can use to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy. Monthly webinars provide accountability and education on a variety of energy-related topics. Presentations by ASC staff in each city are designed to build support for local energy initiatives. An exciting outcome of the program has been the sharing of energy-related policies among the cities. Cities shared their no-idling, complete streets, and distributed generation ordinances with one another as a way to accelerate the adoption of similar policies.
Energy, Jobs & the Economy: These workshops are aimed at candidates running for the Arkansas Legislature and are offered in even years. The workshops feature businesses in the advanced energy sector and highlight the role of state policy in creating the conditions for expansion and job growth in this sector. The goal is to raise awareness of Arkansasí energy resources among future legislators and to create both a positive atmosphere and bipartisan support for policies that will help the state to be competitive in the advanced energy sector. Alumni of the 2012 workshops led efforts to pass five pieces of constructive energy legislation in the 2013 session.
Sustainable Communities Leadership Summit: The Center hosts an annual summit that addresses not only energy, but water, waste, land use and transportation, local foods, and other sustainability topics. Attended by over 200 leaders from across the state in 2013, the summit included a Sustainable City Showcase featuring 10 Arkansas cities and their efforts in water stewardship, alternative transportation, alternative fuels, and energy conservation. The Summit includes field trips such as the Green Economy and Local Foods field trips that give leaders a chance to see the impact of sustainability initiatives on the community.
Sustainability Speaker Series: The Center invites one or more speakers to campus annually to present on a variety of topics related to sustainability. These have included polar explorer Sir Robert Swan speaking about the impact of climate change on polar ice caps, and Pulitzer Prize - winning author Thomas Hylton, who spoke about the importance of curbing urban sprawl and planting trees as strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the urban heat island effect. In 2014, Chuck Marohn, founder of Strong Towns, will present land use and transportation strategies that reduce the burden on city budgets while also improving air quality and encouraging active transportation.
News articles about the Chuck Marohn workshop are at these links:
Sustainable Arkansas: The next phase in the Centerís development is a proposal to launch Sustainable Arkansas, a certification program for Arkansas cities. Sustainability can help cities save money, attract new investment, steward the local environment, and promote healthy outcomes for residents. The program would provide a way to recognize the positive things Arkansas cities are already doing to be more sustainable and would encourage continued progress by the adoption of best practices and policies. The program would be free to cities and would provide training, access to student interns, and access to grant funding to help cities fund their local initiatives.††
The Sustainable Arkansas model proposed by the Applied Sustainability Center has received strong support from several Arkansas cites as well as the Arkansas Municipal League. Center Director Michele Halsell spoke to the City of Fort Smith on May 27 and received their support for the initiative. Click on the link below to see more information about the Fort Smith presentation.
Fort Smith Leaders Interested in "Sustainable" program - Times Record Online Edition, May 28, 2014
Fort Smith officials urged to join municipal sustainability program - The City Wire.com; May 27, 2014