A “sustainable” community adopts a formal strategy to safeguard its natural resources, its natural and built environments, and the quality of life for its residents – for now and the future.
The Town of Fairfield has a long history of support for sustainability initiatives. But as our Town grows and develops, it faces growing environmental challenges, compounded by the increasing pressure of climate change. Striving for sustainability has never been more critical and will require embedding the practice of sustainability into Town operations and the everyday life of its citizens.
Fairfield County was ranked as the 19th worst ozone-polluted county in the country in the 2018 American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report. Air quality is particularly bad during the summer months, driven in large part by wind-borne pollutants from coal, oil, and natural gas-burning power plants in the South and Midwest USA.
The climate is changing, and transportation is a leading cause. Walking and biking reduce energy use, improve air quality, reduce parking needs and traffic, improve personal health and fitness, and invigorate the local economy through increased access to local businesses and tourism. We can achieve these community‐wide benefits through institutional planning and enforcement.
The Sustainable Fairfield Task Force (SFTF) aims to expand its ongoing outreach and education regarding sustainability and environmental preservation, and to encourage Town-wide involvement in activities designed to help Fairfield become a truly sustainable community.
Fairfield is in a region of relative water abundance, but we’ve always had droughts as well as flooding. Climate scientists project that future episodes of drought and flooding are likely to intensify. In addition, our water supply is at risk from increasing population and commercial development.
Energy efficiency and conservation are strategies that help reduce energy consumption in a home or business. Energy efficiency uses technology that requires less energy to perform the same function, or applies methods to reduce energy losses; energy conservation is any behavior that results in the use of less energy. Energy efficient products include LED light bulbs, insulation, weather stripping, caulking, and EnergyStar appliances. Energy conservation practices include prudent heat and air conditioning settings, turning off or dimming light bulbs, and using power strips.
Our national food system is complex and wasteful. The average plate of food travels 1,500 miles to reach our tables and over 4 million tons of food is wasted each year. According to the National Institutes of Health, the adverse environmental and health effects of pesticides are becoming increasingly clear. On a positive note, there has been impressive growth in farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture (CSAs), and other outlets for farmers to sell wholesome, unprocessed products directly to consumers. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service has noted a sharp increase in local food sourcing by restaurants, retailers, and regional distributors.
Trees are a large part of Fairfield’s heritage and sense of community. In the 1800s, Fairfield residents Annie B. Jennings and Mabel Osgood Wright were pioneers in forest management. Following their example, the Town continues to embrace its responsibility as a steward of its forest resources by protecting and enhancing the many environmental, cultural, and economic benefits of trees.
Sustainable buildings feature environmentally responsible and resource-efficient choices throughout a building’s life cycle. Among the guiding principles are integrated design (linking architecture, structural engineering, optimized energy performance, and life cycle planning), water conservation, enhanced indoor air quality, low-environmental-impact materials, and assessment of climate change risks. Such standards promote fiscal responsibility, protect occupant health and productivity, and demonstrate environmental stewardship.
The State of Connecticut’s “Green Plan” established a goal to protect 673,210 acres (21%) of the state’s land as open space by the year 2023. Ten percent of this open space is to be State parks, forests and wildlife areas. The other 11% is to be owned by Towns, private non-profit land conservation organizations, water companies, and the federal government.