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Lakewood, Colorado

The Problem

City leaders encountered shortages in funding and staff time that hindered their ability to pursue sustainability goals.Community members were also frustrated by the lack of city support to develop sustainability initiatives in their neighborhoods. The city needed a way to draw upon citizen time and expertise to make their city sustainable.

The Solution: Sustainable Neighborhoods Program

The city supported a variety of resident-driven sustainability initiatives with tools and support. City staff helped neighborhood groups identify areas of need, determine existing resources and expertise, and implement projects that increased the tree canopy, reduced waste, improved energy efficiency, and more.

How it Works

The city developed a certification program, inviting community members to propose and implement a variety of sustainability workshops, events, and projects that helped the city meet its sustainability goals.

  • Residents submitted proposed activities to the city and indicated the support they needed from city government. Activities that were approved and completed earned credits for the neighborhood. Once a neighborhood reached 60 credits the city certified them as a sustainable neighborhood.
  • Eligible projects included sustainability workshops, special events such as neighborhood cleanups, the creation of neighborhood sustainability clubs, development of outreach plans to increase resident participation in neighborhood activities, and the implementation of sustainability projects.
  • The city government provided a variety of tools and support, including marketing materials, grant funding, yearly leadership training, and strategic planning services.
  • Neighborhoods were able to apply to receive support and credit for activities that advanced the following five goals: conserving energy, improving air quality, encouraging stewardship of natural resources and ecosystems, conserving water and improving water quality, and increasing neighborhood cohesion.


The Results

Thousands of residents from eight city neighborhoods have participated in more than 400 projects, including planting community gardens, increasing energy efficiency, conserving water, and advocating for more sustainable transportation in the city.

  • In 2018 alone, 6,000 citizens participated in more than 100 citizen-led projects, workshops, and events.  
  • Through the Morse Park Tree Planting program, residents planted 100 trees in 2018, helping the city move closer to its goal of 30 percent tree canopy coverage by 2025.
  • Lake Lochwood community members coordinated disaster response training for residents.
  • The Green Mountain Neighborhood educated students in six schools about food waste and recycling, leading one school to begin donating unopened milk cartons that had previously been thrown away to a nonprofit that serves families in need.  
  • Community efforts and commitment to the program spurred Lakewood to develop a city-wide sustainability plan.
  • The Sustainable Neighborhoods Program has been adopted by Fort Collins and Denver to better draw on the experience and expertise of citizens to make their cities more sustainable.
Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award

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