Greenprint Denver: An exercise in community involvement


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It's been 4 months since the launch of Greenprint Denver, Mayor Hickenlooper's citywide 5-year plan to integrate sustainable development and ecologically-friendly practices into city programs and the community at large, and from all indications on its website, Denver is poised to become a leader in energy efficiency.

The plan's website, www.greenprintdenver.org, houses a comprehensive look at what's currently going on and what's planned for Denver in 2007 and beyond. The site is intelligently divided into 5 main sections by target area: water & environment, solid waste & recycling, energy & emissions, green building & industry, and urban design & transportation. Each section lists its goals for 2007 and 2011, specifics on programs to address these goals as they come available, and related links. The site's home page offers the latest community and city news, from leaf recycling and home energy efficiency, to the FasTracks light rail project. And it even asks the user to think twice before printing a page from the site, offering digital alternatives to saving the information.

The "Get Involved" section has excellent information on how individuals or businesses can contribute to improving the city's environmental health while saving money. In addition to listing ways to save energy, water, the site also suggests joining a Denver Green Team. The Green Team Project is a national non-profit whose grassroots goal is to "empower and motivate people to make a difference environmentally though their own practices."

While I have high praise for the site as an efficient, informative, mostly intuitive site that is a reflection of the plan's larger goals, there is room for improvement, especially in the community aspect. As the website says, "Participation from the community is vital for the city to meet a series of goals over the next five years." There are quite a few city and industry programs underway (FasTracks just opened the southeast Light Rail line 2 weeks ago, and Denver International Airport has become the first airport in the nation to be awarded membership in the EPA's Performance Track, just to name a few). But individual and smaller business participation are just as important, and I think merit a more prominent area on the home page, rather than just the current, small "get involved" utility menu item.

I envision a more robust "Get Involved" section over time, with a blogging feature where individuals can share information, concerns, and their successes. A section describing more opportunities and programs (city-sponsored or not) that individuals and businesses can take part in. Perhaps even a feature that profiles Denver residents and businesses who have reduced their carbon footprint, with the goal of educating and inspiring others to do the same.

I look forward to, as the plan progresses, updates on how the plan is doing, with relevant and meaningful statistics, and maybe even comparisons to progress in other cities.

Granted, the site (and the initiative) have recently launched, and as is true of most well-designed projects, will evolve over time to adjust to the needs of the community and the site's users. As it stands, a feedback page exists for users' comments and suggestions to improve the site, and as a resident of Denver, I will be using it.

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