Leicester is a post-industrial city about an hour and a half north of London by train which has the wonderful distinction of being Britain’s first Environment City. This university town with a diverse ethnic mix has initiated perhaps the most comprehensive set of environmental programs ever witnessed by The Results Center. While its completed energy efficiency initiatives are primarily limited to its own municipal buildings, the strength of this profile is in Leicester’s broad environmental platform and wealth of programs.
Leicester has taken an integrated approach to energy efficiency, identifying energy as only one of several resource areas which must be reformed for resource sustainability. As such Leicester, under the auspices of the Leicester Environment City Trust and citizen advisory groups, has catalyzed a rich variety of ecological projects. These include an extensive bike path network, wildlife protection, curbside recycling, and home energy rating systems. Leicester has also banned the use of tropical hardwoods, and peat for that matter, and has fielded Britain’s first green soccer team! Leicester also hosts the annual Think Green environmental festival, has supported pilot district heating initiatives, and is the home of Britain’s largest passively-cooled building. Not only does Leicester support sustainable farming with its own operating farm, but it is also in the process of planting community woodlands in addition to its urban forestry program. The City also gives citizens awards for environmental codes of practice, and is promoting carpooling through its "LeicesterSHARE" program.
In addition to winning the praise of England’s beloved Prince Charles, Leicester was awarded at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro for its ecological activities. The on-going project, called "Environment City," has brought together a partnership between local authorities, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals throughout the community. The program is coordinating activity in eight broad areas: energy, transportation, waste and pollution, food and agriculture, economy and work, the built environment, natural environment, and social environment.
Leicester has institutionalized community participation by forming eight Specialist Working Groups. These groups are currently working within the framework of a 30-year plan called Agenda 2020 to achieve realistic and practical solutions to the problems identified in a comprehensive audit of the City’s environment. While the project’s working groups are coordinated by the Leicester Environment City Trust, both the City and County government’s strong participation will assure that proactive policy directives coming out of the process will be incorporated into action, and this structure has given credibility both at home and overseas to the Leicester model for sustainable development.
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