Developing a Sustainable Community: First Steps

Nancy Nevil, Director of Sustainability and Environmental Services, City of Plano, TX


In order to advance the work of sustainability throughout the City, the Sustainability Director works with a leadership team and four committees representing city departments critical to the success of this program. The four city committees (Green Building, Resource Conservation, Education & Community Outreach, and Finance & Capital Appropriations) ensure the city moves along parallel paths in expediting the identification and implementation of projects having the greatest potential for positive environmental impact.


A professional market research firm was hired to develop, conduct, and analyze surveys aimed at assessing what consumers currently know about energy generation, energy-efficient practices and their connection to greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, recycling, water conservation, stormwater pollution, composting and global warming.


The results were incorporated into final design of messages and materials for each intended audience—residential, commercial and municipal departments.


Live Green in Plano (LGIP) was chosen as the overarching identifier for all environmental programming and the following public awareness campaign objectives were identified:

  • define what it means to be “green”,
  • explain why living green is important,
  • build awareness of the brand Live Green in Plano (LGIP),
  • promote attendance at the LGIP Expo, and
  • increase Web visits and participation in city programs and classes.


The first year public awareness campaign, which was kicked off by Mayor Evans in January 2007, was “The Year of Living Green.” The Mayor issued a bold challenge to make Plano a community leader for green practices throughout the State. In subsequent weeks and months, the following programs, policies, and activities were developed and implemented:

  • Live Green in Plano (LGIP) Expo,
  • LEED Certification Policy for all city facilities,
  • Mobile Source Pollution Reduction Policy,
  • Environmental Purchasing Policy,
  • LGIP Volunteer Program,
  • Green Team Employee Program,
  • Regional Collaborative Green Building Roundtable,
  • LGIP Environmental Calendar, and
  • “Get on the Bus” tours.


In the first nine months, the city’s internal recycling diversion rate went from 23% to 35%, saving the City approximately $900 every month. The first Expo was attended by 7,500 people and the second Expo was attended by 12,000. Six city facilities are being constructed as LEED Certified buildings and the city is pursuing its first LEED Existing Building Certification.