Sustainability Directors Do Their Civic Duty

by | May 15, 2008

As any reader of Natural Capitalism knows, there’s money to be made in sustainability. points out that one direction for budding green workers is to join the staff of a city government.

Fayetteville’s mayor, Dan Coody, is one of 805 mayors nationally who have signed pledges to slash their cities’ greenhouse gas emissions in line with targets set in the Kyoto Protocol. Those mayors have lapped up international praise for leading on climate change where Washington lagged. But the truth is, they are just now getting down to figuring out what exactly they have agreed to. What does it really mean to reduce a city’s carbon footprint?

About three dozen cities now have sustainability directors, and there are more whose job titles reflect either the broader fight against climate change or the somewhat narrower quest for energy efficiency. The idea is to have one person — or in Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and other big cities, entire staffs — dedicated to squeezing greenhouse gas emissions out of the way government does business, and to serve as both a liaison and a beacon to businesses and citizens who want to limit their own carbon output.