It has been a year since South Portland City Council adopted One Climate Future, our joint climate action and adaptation plan with Portland. The plan outlines 68 strategies to reach our ambitious (but achievable) goals of reducing city-wide greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 and transitioning municipal operations to 100 percent clean renewable energy by 2040. In the fleeting final weeks of 2021, Portland and South Portland sustainability staff gathered in Portland City Hall, coffee in hand, to review every project, plan and proposal from the past year for a comprehensive end of year report.

This morning at 9 a.m. the cities will host “Coffee and Climate,” a virtual monthly event dedicated to exploring sustainability topics and encouraging conversation between sustainability staff and city residents, at which staff will present an overview of the report. Look out for a recording of the event and a copy of the full report which will soon be posted at www.oneclimatefuture.org.

In the meantime, here are just a few of the highlights we in South Portland are most proud of:

Buildings and energy

South Portland placed a series of “high water mark” signs, including at Bug Light, Willard Beach and Mill Creek. They are designed to illustrate the current highest tide, and the potential future tide, with added sea level rise. Courtesy photo

In October, South Portland adopted a city-wide energy benchmarking ordinance which will require buildings 20,000 square feet or larger and most municipal buildings to report energy and water usage. This will help increase transparency and accountability of building emissions, our largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Have you driven down Highland Avenue lately? A new solar array is being installed on the Community Center and two larger arrays are being added at the city’s capped landfill. These solar projects will offset more than 80 percent of our municipal usage.

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Waste reduction

This year, South Portland continued to collaborate with ecomaine on a recycling cart tagging program, which helped neighborhoods decrease contamination levels in recycling. Residents did a great job and we were able to save money on contamination fees.

In partnership with Garbage to Garden, South Portland has committed to expand the food waste drop-off program by adding an additional drop-off site in the West End in spring 2022. This will increase the accessibility and reach of the program to more of our community.

Transportation and land use

South Portland leased four all-electric Hyundai Konas, installed several publicly-accessible EV charging stations (with more coming soon), and created the Level 2 EV Charging Grant, which provides businesses 50 percent off the cost of EV charging stations. We are also developing an ordinance that will require EV charging stations in new or reconstructed parking lots.

The city has also focused on improving bike/ped infrastructure including new bike lanes on Waterman Drive, a multi-use path on Westbrook Street, a traffic calming study in Cash Corner and a handful of traffic calming measures through an AARP Challenge Grant.

Climate resilience

To increase climate resilience in South Portland, Gulf of Maine Research Institute “High Water Mark” signs were placed around the city to raise public awareness of sea level rise and flooding. In addition, community gardens are being introduced at Redbank Village and Sawyer Park. To increase soil health, air quality, and green space in South Portland, the city passed a fertilizer ordinance this past year, and a tree protection ordinance is in the works.

Mia Ambroiggio is a Greater Portland Council of Governments/Resilience Corps fellow serving with the South Portland Sustainability Office. She can be reached at [email protected] Our Sustainable City is a recurring column in the Sentry intended to provide residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. Follow the Sustainability Office on Instagram and Facebook @soposustainability.

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