At the National Press Club today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA (ICLEI USA) hosted the latest National Leadership Speaker Series on Resiliency and National Security in the 21st Century, bringing together elected officials in a forum addressing local leadership on resiliency in the built environment.

Three nationally recognized sustainability leaders-the Hon. Ralph Becker, mayor of Salt Lake City; the Hon. George K. Heartwell, mayor of Grand Rapids, Mich.; and the Hon. Kristin Jacobs, vice mayor of Broward County, Fla.-highlighted the efforts of local governments to ensure the resilience and security of their communities in response to growing energy and climate change challenges. The mayors were joined by Jason Hartke, Ph.D., vice president of national policy at USGBC, and Michael Schmitz, executive director of ICLEI USA.

"Buildings are one of the major pieces of the puzzle when it comes to being ready for disaster or being prepared for changing temperatures, stronger storms, more flooding and lengthier droughts. But it's our cities and counties that are on the frontlines dealing with all the pieces of the puzzle," said Jason Hartke, USGBC. "We should commend these local leaders for their bold leadership as they advance the new resiliency agenda. They are working everyday to ensure our communities value readiness, grow stronger and do it all greener." 

“America must become more resilient - and that work begins by creating more resilient communities that can withstand challenges and bounce back,” said Michael Schmitz, ICLEI USA. “The leadership in Grand Rapids, Salt Lake City, and Broward County shows us the power of local solutions, and makes clear that preparedness is essential to maintaining our prosperity and our way of life.”

The three mayors each shared their local climate and energy challenges and their innovative approaches to resilience and sustainability.

“Around the world and across the United States, local communities are confronting apparent gaps in capacity for national and state leadership along with a resiliency to climate change,” said Mayor Heartwell. “Leaders must prepare for the impact of climate change and natural disasters and local leaders can incorporate policies and strategies to ensure their community will remain healthy and prosperous in the face of uncertain change. In Grand Rapids, we are addressing climate adaptation and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions directly in our City’s Sustainability Plan through water conservation, energy efficiency, onsite renewable energy production, recycling, applying LEED practice and more.”

“Climate change poses significant challenges to the way in which we have historically viewed the resilience of our communities,” said Vice Mayor Jacobs. “This is true even in South Florida, where we are vulnerable, and even accustomed, to extreme weather and severe storms.”

“We need to look at climate change from a broader perspective. I am proud of the important progress we have made to reduce Salt Lake City’s carbon footprint as well as our efforts to adapt to the real and pressing effects of climate change,” said Mayor Becker. “The resilience of our built environment must be considered in all development moving forward. People want a community that’s sustainable and livable.”

The National Leadership Speaker Series on Resiliency and National Security in the 21st Century serves as a forum for promoting a strategic vision for “resiliency” and features keynote speakers who are playing a leadership role in creating a safer, stronger and more sustainable future. Previous speakers include FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate and the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang. Notable figures in the public and private sectors, including officials from the White House, the federal agencies and departments, Congress, research and science institutions, members of the diplomatic corps and civil society were in attendance at today’s event. Ingersoll Rand generously supported this installment of the series.