When we first got involved in local climate action, our biggest frustration was how much time was spent on planning rather than action. Despite the fact that some 600+ governments have climate action plans, the vast majority of them have missed their emissions targets.
We believe this is because the focus has been on 30-year targets out to 2050 without a focus on the staff, resources, and tools needed to start working on these goals now.
So our approach is different. We help local governments take their climate action plans (or we start from scratch!) and figure out how they can make the most progress on them in the shortest amount of time. This means we focus on what's actually possible given current staff capacity, resources, and community interest in climate.
So how do we do it? We're both policy wonks and technologists at heart, with years of experience in municipal government and the software industry. Thus, we've built tools and systems to help governments think through immediate implementation planning and getting down to work. Take a look at some of the types of data we draw upon:
Most consultants leave local governments with a 200+ page climate action plan that then a 1-2 person team is supposed to responsible for implementing. Not only does this not work, it's a waste of tax dollars and gives a false sense of progress.
Our approach is different. One climate action staff member can't do it all alone, so we help local governments think about aligning every department toward the overarching goal of climate action. You'll find some examples of this below.
Essentially every municipality has a comprehensive plan, but very few think about how it can fuel climate action in the long-run. We work with land use and planning experts to help align with your Comprehensive Plan and slowly transform your community into a more walkable, sustainable, and inhabitable place.
Our team has significant experience with both Home Rule and Dillon's Rule municipalities across the country. We know what is and isn't possible within your jurisdiction, and we don't apply a one-size-fits-all model to policy design.
The primary staff person responsible for the climate action work often takes the blame for the community being behind its emissions targets. However, rarely do they have the authority and reach to be able to actually get buy-in from other local departments to take action as necessary.
Instead of forcing other departments get on board, we focus on a collaborative, multi-department implementation planning process. This means helping the Fleet Department not just convert to electric vehicles, but helping them get more room in the budget for additional vehicles and accomplishing their other, individual policy goals.
Our approach is to make climate work less zero-sum and more like a win-win for everyone involved. This aligns incentives to make actual progress.
Does your municipality have a walkability plan? How about a redevelopment plan? Or maybe you all have a long-term community vision or strategic plan.
These are all plans traditionally ignored or only thought about in a shallow and superficial away by traditional consultants.
We see these other plans as the center of our focus, rather than an afterthought. We work hard to align your climate programs with these other plans and to embed climate action deep into every department's work plans for the budget year.
Perhaps the biggest problem local governments face is a lack of funding to take local climate action. We recognize this—and instead of proposing a laundry list of actions that we all know aren't possible to get done any time soon—we help you think through what is realistic and how to get funding for it now, not in some hypothetical future.
Our approach is different because our team has actually worked in local government before. We carefully monitor every state and federal funding opportunity. We also have extensive experience with employing novel funding strategies like green TIF and impact fees.
Our breadth of knowledge and urgency to get things done means we can often find funding sources that we're overlooked or not thought of before. Take our memo on ARPA as an example.
Another thing broken with the traditional consulting model is that the incentives are aligned poorly with ensuring the local government actually achieves the intended outcomes.
As soon as the deliverables are handed off, the consultant disappears with very little pressure to ensure their work is realistic or actually useful to the local government over the long-term.
We stick around. With every local government we work with, we've built an ongoing relationship—sometimes through an ongoing retainer, or in other cases just building a community of like-mined climate professionals who check in on each other.
We're in this for the long haul, and we won't to see your local climate action efforts succeed.