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Burlington Nabs National Sustainability Award


Published December 9, 2010 at 12:20 p.m.

Not all the news coming out of Vermont's largest city is bad, or about Burlington Telecom.

This week, city officials announced that the Queen City, in conjuction with Champlain Housing Trust, won the national award for excellence from the Home Depot Foundation for sustainable community development. The award come with a $75,000 check.

Home Depot produced a five-plus minute video interviewing city officials, residents and business owners about the city's Legacy Project, its sustainability efforts as well as what next steps are in the works. You can view the video here.

The award recognizes "cities that are incorporating real-world sustainability initiatives into their day-to-day operations, with a focus on efficient use of municipal budget funds while increasing the livability of the community for all residents."

Burlington won the “small city” award and joins Tacoma, Washington, winner of the large city award, as one of two national winners.

Mayor Bob Kiss and Sustainability Coordinator Jennifer Green accepted the $75,000 award — to be shared between the city and Champlain Housing Trust — at the National League of Cities “Congress of Cities” last week in Denver, CO. A video was produced for each winner and presented with the award.

“Burlington’s acknowledgement as the top small city in the country promoting the environment, equity, education, and the economy together for a sustainable future is the result of years of commitment and the common goal of meeting people’s needs,” said Kiss.

Burlington was recognized for the creation and implementation of the Legacy Project Action Plan and the highlighted Burlington Co-Housing East Village project, which is off East Avenue. The Champlain Housing Trust was a partner in the Co-Housing East Village development as part of its mission of creating perpetually affordable housing.

"The city of Burlington has been a tremendous partner for us over so many years. Our shared commitment to equity, the environment, and sustainable economic development helps us all achieve success where others would surely fail," said Brenda Torpy, CEO of the Champlain Housing Trust.

The city's decade-long Legacy Project played a key role in Burlington's victory, too.

“What makes the Burlington Legacy Plan special,” said Joe Speidel, Legacy Steering Committee co-chair and University of Vermont's director of local government and community relations, “is the comprehensive way it captures our community’s vision — and integrates all the elements of equity, education, economic development, and the environment. This is a good example of how the Legacy Plan helped to realize an important project in the city of Burlington.”

The Foundation’s award to Burlington was completed after reviewing projects by cities throughout the United States. The award recipients were selected by an advisory committee of experts based on a number of criteria, including environmental sustainability, economic vitality, social equity, community engagement, as well as how well the highlighted project exemplifies the city’s sustainability plan and meets the needs of the local community while maintaining affordability for the residents.

“Cities around the country are feeling the profound impacts of the current economic downturn. As a result, many are finding innovative and successful ways to save money by implementing sustainable practices into their policies and operations,” said Kelly Caffarelli, president of The Home Depot Foundation. "We hope that identifying, recognizing and showcasing Burlington’s success will offer insight, inspiration and a roadmap for other cities to follow as they face the economic challenges that still lie ahead.”

Earlier this year, Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine listed Burlington as one of the country's top 10 "Best Cities for the Next Decade" and the city was picked as one of a handful of cities around the world to participate in Sir Richard Branson's "Carbon War Room."

A complete list of previous accolades can be found on the city's website.