A truly sustainable community is one that takes a long-range view, balancing and integrating economic, environmental, social, and physical considerations within its local decision-making. Achieving a sustainable community requires dedication throughout the city – municipal departments, citizens, businesses and organizations – to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It means coordinating efforts to use resources efficiently, reduce waste, and prevent pollution and environmental impacts. It means taking into account our shared objectives to achieve our community’s vision for a healthy community, continued high quality of life, and a vibrant economy.
Over the last decade, Keene has worked to address sustainability through measures to lower greenhouse gas emissions and increase community resiliency to the expected impacts of a changing climate. By addressing climate change through collaborative planning and action, the community can foster long-term environmental, social, and economic vitality within Keene and the Monadnock Region.
This plan focuses on the goal of achieving community sustainability. Since this goal requires many different stakeholders, it is recommended that a Sustainability Commission be created that includes representation from various stakeholders throughout the community to monitor progress on sustainability efforts across sectors such as land use, housing, open space, public health, alternative transportation, water quality, air quality, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and financial sustainability, and to report that progress to local decision-makers.
Defining a Sustainable Community:
Balancing Environment, Society and Economy
The word “sustainability” is being used more frequently, but it does not have a universal definition and it has been described in numerous ways. The most commonly referred to definition is the one from the Brundtland Commission from 1983, which states that sustainability is “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In 2003, Keene defined sustainability in its 2003 Community Goals, which states, “If Keene and surrounding town are to continue to be a desirable, affordable place in which to live and work, it is essential that there be a proper balance among the factors that make up our quality of life – why people enjoy living here. These factors can be summarized as: Environmental quality, Economic vitality, and social Equity, and are referred to as the three “E’s” of a healthy and sustainable community. The goals that are set forth herein are intended to preserve all the best of our region and to embrace participatory democracy, which will enhance its vitality and stability for the future.” Essentially, what the community said in 2003 and reiterated throughout this master planning process is that there are no trade-offs between these areas (e.g., economic growth or environmental health, development or resource protection); sustainability optimizes all three.