Cranberry Township has been named one of nine U.S. communities to take part in a demonstration project using online software to track its progress toward sustainability goals including energy conservation. The program, called STAR Beta Communities, is designed to help local governments better manage their own sustainability goals through the use of information technology. Its software, which is still in prototype form, is designed to collect, organize, analyze and present detailed, real-time information to municipal managers.
The STAR program, which is a project of ICLEI – an international association that promotes sustainability at the local level – will provide Township personnel with data that is expected to help them reduce Cranberry’s purchased power, currently around $650,000 a year. Almost half of that total is consumed by the Township’s Brush Creek wastewater treatment plant.
Cranberry’s 2009 long-range comprehensive plan, which places a strong emphasis on sustainability, includes a long series of recommendations to help the Township save money and increase efficiency while enabling it to become a better environmental steward. ICLEI’s online project was identified as a potentially valuable tool for achieving that goal.
“We’re flattered to have been chosen as one of the nine municipalities in this pilot project,” Cranberry Township Supervisor Richard M. Hadley said. “As the only suburb and, at 29,000, by far the smallest of the STAR Beta communities, Cranberry may be in a position to bring something of disproportionate value: it is that suburbs today represent the largest and fastest growing segment of America’s population. Our sustainability challenges and answers are likely to be different than those of New York, Seattle, Washington, Atlanta and the other communities in our STAR Beta class. So we’re eager to see how this technology can help communities like ours in western Pennsylvania, as well as our counterparts across the country, save money and improve their environment.”
Other Township sustainability initiatives currently in place include an expanded recycling program, use of effluent for field irrigation, the acquisition of hybrid vehicles, frequent water line leak inspections, lighting governed by motion sensors, LED traffic signals, and others.
Cranberry’s application to take part in the pilot program received strong support from Sustainable Pittsburgh and from the Local Government Academy, on Pittsburgh’s north side. LGA views the ICLEI project as a region-wide effort with Cranberry providing initial proof of the concept for other suburban communities across southwestern Pennsylvania.
For more information on sustainability and Healthy Cranberry, visit www.cranberrytownship.org/sustainability