Burlington Kicks Off Most Sustainable City Campaign Effort

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 26, 2016
Contacts:
Jennifer Kaulius, Mayor’s Office, 
802.324.2505
Mike Kanarick, Burlington Electric Department, 802.735.7962

 

Burlington Kicks Off Most Sustainable City Campaign Effort

Mayor, City Officials, Business Leaders Encourage Community to Vote for Burlington,
Share Ideas to Make City More Sustainable, Hashtag #WeLoveBurlington

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger, City Council President Jane Knodell, Burlington Electric Department General Manager Neale Lunderville, other City officials, business leaders, and everybody’s favorite furry Lake Monster and sustainability advocate, Champ, kicked off Burlington’s effort to win a two-month long social media campaign launched today by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) showcasing climate and sustainability solutions from Burlington and other leading cities around the world. Burlingtonians and Vermonters can help Burlington, one of three U.S. finalists, win WWF’s “We Love Cities” campaign and engage our community in three ways:

  1. Vote for Burlington online at the WeLoveCities.org/Burlington website;
  2. Share ideas on that website about how to make Burlington an even more sustainable city; and
  3. Hashtag #WeLoveBurlington on Instagram and Twitter to express what they love about how Burlington is helping shape our sustainability future.

“The City of Burlington was honored to receive such significant recognition from World Wildlife Fund’s global environmental movement, and now we encourage all corners of our community to engage in this exciting online campaign to promote all that Burlington has done and can do toward even greater sustainability,” said Mayor Weinberger. “Together, let’s send a message around the country and the world that Burlington knows what it means to be a leader in environmental stewardship, and let’s win the title of most sustainable U.S. city. We invite you to post away and be sure to use the hashtag #WeLoveBurlington.”

Today’s kick-off took place at the Burlington Community Boathouse to help promote Burlington’s “We Love Cities” campaign logo (set forth at the top of this release), created by WWF with input from Burlington and featuring the iconic Boathouse, Lake Champlain, and sailboats inside WWF’s We Love Cities heart.

“The work of making Burlington the most sustainable city spans generations,” noted City Council President Jane Knodell. “More than 15 years ago, we adopted the Burlington Legacy Project, which gave the City a framework to grow into a sustainable community. In Burlington, sustainability means more than just environmental health; sustainability is the unique combination of economic vitality, educational excellence, environmental stewardship, and equity and diversity leadership. This recognition by World Wildlife Fund gives us new momentum toward the Legacy Project’s year 2030 goals.”

“Burlington leads in sustainability in every possible way,” said Lunderville. “We source 100% of our power from renewable generation. We foster low-impact, socially responsible smart growth across the City. Our educators are teaching the importance of protecting our planet. Our major employers are environmental leaders in their own right. Plus, our people-friendly downtown is the crown jewel of the county. These are all reasons why #WeLoveBurlington.”

The Mayor and GM Lunderville then proceeded to encourage those gathered at the announcement to vote for Burlington from their cell phones, and the Mayor sent the following tweet: “Game on! #WeLoveBurlington underway. Help #btv win most sustainable US city by voting at WeLoveCities.org/Burlington @BurlingtonElec.”

Each year, WWF engages in the Earth Hour City Challenge, “a year-long competition to promote renewable energy and prepare for climate change” that grew out of Earth Hour, WWF’s global lights-out display to raise awareness around protecting our planet. Around the world for one hour on the evening of March 19, 2016, the lights of iconic sites like the Empire State Building and the Space Needle were turned off. In Burlington, homeowners, renters, and business joined City Hall, the Church Street Marketplace, and the Unitarian Universalist Church in turning off non-essential lights.   

Earlier in March 2016, an independent jury convened by WWF named Burlington one of three U.S. Earth Hour City Challenge finalists, along with Boulder, CO and Evanston, IL, to compete for the title of U.S. Earth Hour Capital, based largely on Burlington Electric Department’s 100% renewably-sourced generation accomplishment. The jury will name a U.S. Earth Hour Capital this summer and that winning city will compete against the winning cities from 20 other countries to be named the global Earth Hour Capital, a designation that will be announced at a mid-October 2016 meeting in Quito, Ecuador. The We Love Cities campaign serves as a kind of “people’s choice award” within the Earth Hour City Challenge, bringing citizens into the conversation about how to move further down the path toward sustainability.

Kevin Taylor, WWF Senior Specialist for Local Engagement, who joined the Mayor and officials for the announcement, stated: “The ‘We Love Cities’ campaign is a global celebration of the most beloved sustainable cities. Burlington has undertaken important efforts to make the City more sustainable. While we know Burlington is looking to win, we also know that no matter which city comes out on top, we all win when we create a more sustainable future.”

A visit to Burlington’s page on the We Love Cities website reveals the following Burlington accomplishments:

Burlington was the first city in the USA to source 100% of its power through renewables. And there’s still more to come.
By securing its energy future with a newly procured hydro-electric plant, Burlington is now looking to enable its residents to live more sustainably. Coupled with the city’s renewable energy portfolio is a range of financial and technical incentives offered to property owners and businesses to help them save money and reduce the city's overall environmental footprint. It’s all part of the entire community coming together for change.

Cities are judged on two fronts: first, based on accomplishments on the ground in Burlington; and, second, social media outpouring during the two-month campaign. On the ground, Burlington is hard to beat: sourcing 100% renewable generation; a progressive Climate Action Plan; amazing parks and natural resources; commitment to local food; and residents and leaders plugged-in on environmental issues. In cyberspace, Burlington is getting more well-known, but we must step up our game. Burlington will be judged on its social media presence relative to its population, not volume of tweets and hashtags. The online campaign runs between April 26 and June 19, with the winner announced on June 22.

While BED is shepherding the We Love Cities effort for the City, a victory will come only with a broader effort, with ideas and energy from all over Burlington and beyond. The Mayor and GM Lunderville encouraged other City Department Directors, business leaders, and community members to get involved in and spread the word about the campaign. We Love Cities banners and posters will hang for the next two months at the Boathouse, the Fletcher Free Library, on the City Hall railing facing Church Street, and in other locations around the City.

Leaders from Burlington-based companies with a focus on and commitment to sustainability participated in today’s kick-off:

Joey Bergstein, General Manager & Chief Marketing Officer of Seventh Generation, Burlington-based leader in eco-friendly household cleaning and personal care products, stated: “For twenty-seven years, we’ve been building one of the nation’s most sustainable brands right here in the most sustainable city in the country. We couldn’t be prouder to call Burlington home – from renewable energy to the nation’s first sustainability-focused magnet school, the City continues to lead the way. It’s a place where our employees can truly work hard and play hard, especially in Burlington’s beautiful waterfront park, located steps from our office.”

Ali Kenney, Director of Global Sustainability at Burton Snowboards, added: “We are proud to have our global headquarters in a great community like Burlington that mirrors our values around sustainability. Burlington really is one-of-a-kind. We don’t know of any other city where Burton could benefit from so much renewable energy and that is close to the mountains, sits along the shores of a beautiful lake, offers a world-class bike path, one of the best public skate parks anywhere, great local breweries, one of the strongest local food co-ops in the country, and a thriving art scene. It sounds almost too good to be true.”

Grace Ciffo, Senior Manager, Facilities, Dealer.com, Cox Automotive Software Group, said: “Dealer.com has a long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship. We strive to operate with a light environmental footprint and use natural resources minimally and responsibly. We are proud of our LEED-certified Burlington headquarters, green and local purchasing, on-site recycling and composting programs, a bike loan program, fully-sponsored CCTA ridership benefits for Dealer.com Team Members, and the installation of one of the largest private solar panel projects in Burlington on our rooftop.”

 

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Press Release Date: 
04/26/2016
City Department: 
Mayor's Office