Frequently Asked Questions: Communities
How long does the Sustainable Pennsylvania certification last?
The Sustainable Pennsylvania municipal certification lasts for three years. A municipality should apply for recertification before the three year period has expired. A municipality that applies for recertification before their current certification expires is provided a couple of benefits. First, by applying in advance of expiration the municipality will have far fewer questions to answer, because some questions will still be valid from the past certification. Second, your municipality will not be removed from the Sustainable PA recognition site if you apply for recertification before it expires.
Is there a fee for community participation?
There is no fee to earn a certification, but both Sustainable Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania Municipal League, both nonprofit organizations that rely on donations and memberships, welcome donations to support the technology platform we use and the time we spend to assist municipalities with their sustainability initiatives.
Who can participate in the Sustainable Pennsylvania program?
Any municipality located within the state of Pennsylvania is welcome and encouraged to participate in the program and earn certification.
If I am with a municipal government, how can I get started on earning Sustainable Pennsylvania certification?
Visit this link to register your municipality for the program and we will aim to respond to your registration within one business day. For more information you can view this short tutorial: How to use Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Performance Program Platform – YouTube.
How can I earn points and achieve certification through the Sustainable Pennsylvania program?
The Sustainable Pennsylvania program provides a framework of questions to help your municipality assess its sustainability progress to date and identify areas for future impact. Each response you provide will earn a given number of points.
Municipalities may earn a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum certification through the Sustainable Pennsylvania program. To achieve a given level of certification, municipalities must both a) earn a given percentage of the points available in the program, and b) respond affirmatively to a set of required questions specific to each level. Point percentage and question requirements for each level can be found here.
Who on staff can complete the performance assessment to earn Sustainable Pennsylvania certification?
The municipality may designate any municipal official – elected or staff, or a municipal committee member – to complete the assessment. In the program, we encourage every community to create a sustainability team made up of at least one elected official, staff member, and community members. It is very important that at least one municipal staff member is actively involved in the application process, because there are questions throughout the program that will require documentation only available to staff.
Once a community earns certification, can it reassess later in order to achieve a higher level?
Yes, a municipality can be reassessed at any time. And if you do reassess before your three-year certification expires, many of the questions will not need to be reanswered because they have their own separate expiration dates based on how difficult or durable they are. Sustainable Pittsburgh can also assist with communities striving to achieve a higher designation level.
Who created the Sustainable Pennsylvania certification?
This certification program was developed by Sustainable Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Municipal League with guidance from more than 70 local and national experts, academics, and municipal officials. Some of the actions are modeled after the best practices of programs from other state, national, and international programs, and in many cases if you have achieved designation in other programs (LEED, Solsmart, etc) you will earn points in Sustainable PA.
This program is aimed at sustainability in municipalities. If I am a resident, is there anything I can do to play a part in helping our region become more sustainable?
Yes! We encourage you to reach out to your local municipal officials and see what they are already doing. Do they have an Environmental Advisory Committee (an official planning body) or a sustainability team? If not, you can find some guidance on how you might advocate for getting certified in your community or starting a sustainability team. Link COMING SOON! There are more than 2,500 municipalities in Pennsylvania, each with their own governing board ranging from three to 11 people. If one elected official is not interested, maybe another one is! Keep trying.
What if I have a question or issue that was not addressed in this FAQ section?
We are here to help! Contact sustainablePA@sustainablepittsburgh.org or 412-258-6642. We will update these FAQs accordingly, as your experience will probably be helpful to others!