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Detroit releases plan to address city’s sustainability issues

The Sustainability Action Agenda has 43 action items, including expanding the city’s recycling program

By Aaron Mondry Jun 28, 2019, 3:21pm EDT VIA Curbed Detroit


Michelle Gerard

Detroit took an important step towards entering the 21st century by releasing its Sustainability Action Agenda to address the city’s numerous sustainability issues. The 55-page report, produced by the city’s Office of Sustainability, outlines ways to improve the health, environment, and resiliency of Detroit and its residents.


“Sustainability” means a number of different things to people. It has obvious environmental implications, but it can also relate to economic sustainability, like not making enough money to afford housing. For Detroiters, the latter is often a more pressing need, and the agenda reflects those priorities.


The Sustainability Action Agenda is divided into four buckets:

Healthy, thriving people

Affordable, quality homes

Clean, connected neighborhoods

Equitable green city

Within each are various action items. Under bucket one, for example, there’s “expand local air quality monitoring system,” with a plan of launching two new monitoring efforts, on top of the three already installed in Southwest Detroit. Each item has a timeline of implementation, almost all of which are less than five years.

In total, there’s 43 action items. Some other examples include “improve access to utility efficiency programs,” “expand green jobs training and workforce development programs,” and “develop an electric vehicle infrastructure strategy.”


A major goal of the agenda is to reduce landfill waste. Through an additional $1 million in funding, the city already plans on expanding its recycling program by adding multifamily and commercial properties, launching a recycling education campaign, and providing recycling options in public places like parks.


“The actions outlined in this agenda will collectively have a powerful positive impact for Detroit residents by improving the health of residents, reducing utility costs, providing better access to city services, and ensuring that residents can survive and thrive through the impacts of climate change,” said Joel Howrani Heeres, the city’s director of sustainability.


The Office of Sustainability is small. To help with implementation, it created a Sustainability Advisory Commission made up of representatives of relevant community groups and organizations, as well as an Interdepartmental Working Group of city officials.

The city also says it reached nearly 7,000 residents during its engagement period.

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