Westport, Weston and Fairfield awarded for sustainability

Sustainable CT was developed under the leadership of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University, in partnership with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

Sustainable CT was developed under the leadership of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University, in partnership with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

Courtesy Sustainable CT

Westport, Weston and Fairfield have achieved Sustainable CT certification and will officially be recognized later this month for their effort in making their municipalities more efficient, resilient and inclusive.

The three towns are among a group of 23 Connecticut municipalities that have met the standards of sustainability. Westport and Fairfield qualified for the silver-level certification, the highest level of certification currently offered. Weston is one of 11 towns that qualified for bronze-level certification.

“Congratulations to our newest Sustainable CT certified communities,” said Lynn Stoddard, executive director of the program. “It’s particularly gratifying to see so many municipalities achieving certification this year.”

Stoddard said the program is “inspired” by the leadership and collaboration of all of the elected officials that help make Connecticut communities healthy and strong.

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe said that he is “pleased” that Westport was able to achieve the silver level after receiving the bronze in 2018. He said through the hard work of former Operations Director Sara Harris and the town department heads, the town was able to handle the “complex” submission to achieve the award.

Westport also received support from Sustainable Westport and Earthplace through the organization’s programs such as the Zero Food Waste Challenge and home efficiency audits.

“These organizations are pivotal in the movement towards achieving our goal of Net Zero by 2050,” Marpe said.

The first selectman added that the residents of Westport have taken on the challenges to become involved in the “growing movement” to protect the environment for future generations.

“With increased local engagement and impact, it will be possible to make our planet healthier and more sustainable,” Marpe said. “Westport continually demonstrates its commitment to sustainability now and into the future.”

The application requires certified towns to demonstrate achievements in several sustainable impact areas. The areas can range from inclusive community buildings, thriving local economies and clean and efficient energy use to vibrant arts and culture, clean transportation and diverse housing.

Certified municipalities also address issues of belonging, equity, diversity and inclusion when implementing sustainability actions.

Fairfield received its bronze certification in 2018.

There are 125 municipalities registered for the program. Collectively, 64 municipalities, or 60 percent of the state’s communities, have earned Sustainable CT certification. Certification lasts for three years.

“Weston is a haven for residents who support a sustainable lifestyle with stunning natural environments and the large land preserves and virtually no urbanization,” said First Selectwoman Samantha Nestor. “As we look to Weston’s future, Sustainable CT offers important frameworks for our planning and decision-making.”

Nestor said the certification represents a collaborative effort by the Sustainable Weston Committee members, town administrators, student volunteers, interns and local advocates.

“We are proud that Weston is taking sustainability seriously,” she said.

Laura Francis, co-chair of the Sustainable CT Board of Directors, said the additional certified communities have also been able to use the Sustainable CT framework to recover from the pandemic and build long-term resilience.

“Supporting local businesses, strengthening food networks and safeguarding natural spaces for our residents have always been important, but the pandemic further illuminated their importance,” Francis said.

Westport, Weston, Fairfield and the rest of the 2021 certified communities will be recognized on Nov. 30 at the Annual Convention of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

Other recipients include Ridgefield for bronze and Greenwich, Hartford, Litchfield, Milford, New Milford and Trumbull for silver.

“Sustainable CT Certified communities are models for all forward-looking local governments,” said Joe DeLong, executive director and CEO of Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.