Ferndale talks sustainability plans for 2020

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published January 21, 2020

FERNDALE — The city of Ferndale felt like it had a strong 2019 in terms of its actions regarding sustainability, and it’s looking forward to 2020 to see what more it can do.

At the Jan. 13 City Council meeting, Environmental Sustainability Planner Erin Quetell gave a presentation that reviewed what Ferndale accomplished last year and detailed what’s next.

Quetell highlighted the first solar carport installation outside City Hall; 1,744 streetlights converted to LED; the development of the city’s revolving energy fund; the installation of smart waste receptacles; and investment in an urban tree canopy as successes for Ferndale.

As for what’s next, Quetell told the Woodward Talk that she wants to integrate climate action planning into Ferndale’s master land use plan update.

Quetell said they previously integrated sustainability into the plan, and one thing they didn’t consider at the time when it was written was the climate and climate resiliency.

“We’re up for updates in the next couple years, and so that’s one of the efforts that we’re going to propose for looking at that and kind of bringing that to our community to have feedback of how we can be more resilient in the climate crisis,” she said.

Having a climate action plan, Quetell continued, is going to help outline and provide Ferndale with goals for what they’re striving to achieve.

“It’s not that we haven’t done projects. We have done tree plantings. We’ve done some renewable projects … but this would really give focus to it and a little bit more information and tangible outcomes that we can strive for,” she said. “It would absolutely talk about our tree canopies, talk about our renewable energy portfolio and what that means, talk about ways to reduce our energy usage to make sure that we have equity and inclusion in all of those decisions, and so it’s really a well-rounded look at what we can do as the city of Ferndale in the face of climate change.”

Other items Quetell wants to target this year include integrating sustainability opportunities into its Ferndale Moves program, continue its participation in the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and join the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.

The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, an organization with a network of more than 1,750 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development, is something Quetell wants Ferndale to be a part of because “they have a lot of tools and a lot of information that is specifically tailored to government to help combat climate change and to help with resiliency.”

City Councilwoman Kat Bruner James has a few of her own objectives in terms of what she hopes Ferndale could do sustainability-wise in 2020.

That includes talking about sustainability goals, such as having a climate action plan; looking into organic waste and seeing if there are opportunities to increase the resources and training they can provide to residents, who could be doing more home composting; and looking at the city’s carbon reduction goals.

“I don’t know how quickly it’s feasible for us to have a goal of carbon neutral in mind,” she said. “Obviously, we would want that to be a goal to pursue as aggressively as possible, but I don’t know what’s possible at this time. If, by the end of this year, we could have a better idea of what that looks like, I think that’s obviously the first step.”

James also noted that there are many people in Ferndale who are doing urban farming and who try to reduce their waste and energy use. She’d like to find ways to increase that kind of work in the city.

“I’d really like to look at what we could do as a city to help facilitate dialog between residents who are doing this kind of work, whether it’s hosting some kind of expo where we invite people who are working on these issues to come together and share information with one another,” she said. “That’s still sort of in the idea phase, but I just know that we have so many resources among our residents, I’d like to tap into it.”