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Summit of Juneau 'green' groups leads to plan for joint work

Posted: June 21, 2012 - 12:04am

Members of the Juneau Commission on Sustainability and the City and Borough of Juneau Green Team got better acquainted at their first joint meeting at the downtown library Wednesday afternoon.

The JCOS and Green Team discussed ways to improve their respective Web presences and develop an “Energy Challenge” initiative aimed at lowering energy usage, tasking subcommittees to work together on both.

Nancy Waterman, JCOS chairwoman, said the meeting was “so successful” that she would like to hold more of them in the future.

“I think each group has kind of an annual retreat-type meeting, and I could imagine that in the future, we would try to do a retreat combination,” Waterman added.

City Planner Beth McKibben, a Community Development Department staff member who serves both as liaison to the JCOS and chairwoman of the Green Team, echoed Waterman’s sentiments.

“We will probably talk about maybe scheduling one or two joint meetings a year for the full body of each group,” said McKibben.

Beyond designating the website and Energy Challenge subcommittees, which Waterman and McKibben both identified as an accomplishment, McKibben said the groups benefited from meeting with one another.

“There’s an opportunity for collaboration on a lot of different activities,” McKibben said, noting the “overlap” between many of their efforts.

“So it was important that the two groups meet and talk and collaborate. … There’s a certain amount of synergy that comes from a group of people working together,” she said.

The JCOS has a liaison to the Green Team, Steve Behnke, who also attended Wednesday’s joint meeting.

“It’s really great that the CBJ has such a thing as a Green Team. I mean, that’s a really good thing,” Behnke said during the meeting. “But I think my impression is … there’s a much bigger opportunity to pull other departments into recognizing their role. … The Green Team really could have quite a bit larger function by pulling in … upper-level people.”

Behnke added the JCOS, for its part, could work more closely with the city on community and media outreach.

“It’s hard for the CBJ to sort of toot its own horn about some of that (sustainability) stuff, so maybe we should be doing more to help toot the horn of what the CBJ is doing along those lines,” Behnke said.

A few minutes later, wrapping up the meeting, McKibben thanked the rest of the participants for attending.

“You know, it’s so great, because both groups are full of really good ideas and a lot of energy, and I don’t want it to go to waste,” said McKibben. “I want it to go somewhere so people feel like things are being accomplished.”

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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