Sustainability and Climate Action Plan

The City of Sioux Falls is partnering with the community to develop the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. The plan will focus on sustainability in these aspects of our community: Natural Systems, Transportation and Land Use, Energy and Buildings, Community Vitality and Sustainable Living, Sustainable Economy, and Materials Management and Waste. It will also prioritize social equity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

To align with scientific targets, the City of Sioux Falls has set the following greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to be included in the Plan:

These targets apply to both the community as a whole and local government operations. Many of the goals and strategies in the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan will be aimed at reducing emissions while achieving co-benefits of improving residents’ health and well-being, saving money, creating jobs, boosting community resilience, increasing energy security and independence, and contributing to cleaner air.

Community Engagement

Community engagement and public input is an integral part of the planning process to ensure community needs are informing the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. Three community engagement phases will take place.

Upcoming Engagement

Community Engagement Phase 3
Early 2022.
Public comment period of the written Plan.
Purpose: To obtain and incorporate as applicable final comment from the public on the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.

Past Engagement

Community Engagement Phase 1
April 2021. Online Sustainability Survey. No in-person engagement took place due to COVID-19.
Purpose: To gather initial input from the community on sustainability concerns, goals, needs and utilize feedback to develop the Plan.

 

More than 1,300 people took the Sustainability Survey in April. Results indicate respondents are concerned about sustainability and environmental problems and support action. Findings include:

  • 88% of respondents are concerned (46%) or very concerned (42%) about sustainability and environmental issues.
  • 88% are concerned (40%) or very concerned (48%) about harm from environmental hazards in our region, including water and air pollution, hotter temperatures, flooding, droughts, and agricultural pests and diseases.
  • 93% state it is important (35%) or very important (58%) that Sioux Falls addresses sustainability and environmental issues.
  • 84% think sustainability and environmental issues affect their life a great deal (39%) or a moderate amount (45%).
  • 95% think sustainability and environmental issues will affect future citizens a great deal (77%) or a moderate amount (18%).

Learn More

Sustainability means meeting our current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs too. It means making sure our practices and decisions contribute to quality of life today but don’t jeopardize the health, safety, security, and economic opportunity for those who come after us. A sustainability approach helps us protect and preserve our natural environment, which contributes to well-being, a prosperous economy, and a vibrant and equitable community for all. Two visuals are often used to illustrate sustainability and its components.

Figure 1: The nested model of sustainability illustrates our dependence on a healthy environment to support social well-being, which in turn enables us to sustain a robust economy. In other words, without a healthy environment, our community would be unable to achieve social well-being and economic success. 

Figure 2: The overlapping-circles model of sustainability illustrates the importance of considering equally the environmental, social, and economic impacts of our decisions and behaviors. 

Today, we face big sustainability challenges. Things like limited resources, climate change, threats to ecosystems and biodiversity, pollution and waste, and public health concerns are issues we need to address. Precipitation extremes, hotter temperatures, decreased air and water quality, greater likelihood of natural disasters, and increased flooding are challenges our community may face in the future.

Developing a sustainability plan is a key step to addressing these challenges. The City’s first sustainability plan was created in 2012. The Sustainability and Climate Action Plan will build upon the city’s existing sustainability efforts and plans, and chart a course for further sustainability. The Sustainability and Climate Action Plan will also set measurable goals, including those to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, that will be tracked and updated on a regular basis.

The City of Sioux Falls has been prioritizing sustainability for over a decade. Its Sustainability Program, Leading Green, started in 2009. Current activities include recycling and waste reduction efforts, water quality programs, LED streetlight replacement, community education and outreach, and nature-based stormwater solutions. Sustainability efforts have led to many results, including:

  • In 2019, the Household Hazardous Waste Facility had 29,000 visits, reused 118,000 pounds of hazardous waste, recycled 563,000 pounds of hazardous waste, and recycled 1.1 million pounds of e-waste.
  • Since 2004, over 21 million pounds of e-waste and household hazardous waste has been recycled and diverted.
  • Since 2003, 5 billion gallons of water have been conserved through the Water Conservation Program.
  • In 2019, landfill gas energy generated nearly $1 million in revenue for the City and reduced City methane emissions by approximately 8,000 tons.
  • As of 2019, 22% of streetlights have been replaced with LED bulbs, for a 46% reduction in energy use and savings of $150,000. 
  • In 2019, the SiouxperGrow Program through Water Reclamation Plant led to the beneficial reuse of approximately 1200 dry tons of biosolids applied to farm fields as fertilizer. This program prevents landfilling approximately 3000 dry tons of material annually.
  • Lime sludge, a byproduct from the water treatment process used by the City to treat its drinking water, is applied to farmers’ fields as a soil additive and provides an annual costs savings of over $200,000 to the division.

The process to update the Sustainability Master Plan will take about a year and a half. A Steering Committee made up of 24 community stakeholders and City staff members is guiding the planning process. External stakeholders represent development, business, environmental, community, and educational constituency groups.  

The updated plan will focus on the following six areas. It will also include goals for reducing the community’s and local government’s greenhouse gas emissions as well as prioritize social equity.

Natural Systems
Protect and conserve our environment and natural resources.

Transportation and Land Use
Provide an efficient, multi-modal transportation system that offers increasingly clean measures for all users, and promote sustainable land use and development.

Energy and Buildings
Utilize clean, efficient, and reliable energy and encourage green building practices.

Sustainable Economy
Promote sustainable growth and encourage businesses and organizations to take part in sustainable practices and improve the community’s triple bottom line.

Materials Management and Waste
Increase waste diversion programs and encourage more reduce, reuse, and recycling within our community.

Community Vitality and Sustainable Living
Promote health, support resilient food systems, and encourage actions and behaviors that are sustainable and benefit the individual and community.

The City of Sioux Falls 2012 Sustainability Master Plan had greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, but they need to be updated in the City’s new plan to incorporate up-to-date science and recommended targets. Many other communities across the Midwest and the country set these goals.

Scientific data indicates global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5°C (IPCC 2018). This average global temperature increase of 1.5°C is right about where there’s enough heat to push many of the natural systems that sustain us past a dangerous tipping point.

The City of Sioux Falls has set goals aligned with these scientific targets in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and continue leading on sustainability. 

 

Table 1. Midwestern cities’ emission reductions goals through 2050.

Scientific data indicates global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5°C (IPCC 2018). This average global temperature increase of 1.5°C is right about where there’s enough heat to push many of the natural systems that sustain us past a dangerous tipping point. 

The City of Sioux Falls will revise goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a way to continue leading on sustainability. The City is updating its greenhouse gas inventory. This is a list of emission sources and the associated amount of emissions quantified using standardized methods. The greenhouse gas inventory will help us see our progress made in the past decade and help us set our new reduction goals.

The new emission reduction goals will be set during the Sustainability Master Plan update process.

 
Want to explore even more? Check out the City’s 2012 Sustainability Master Plan here