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Department of Sustainability
& Environmental Affairs

Many issues of sustainability and environmental health impact more than one department of local government. As a result, we've found that towns and villages that have an Office or Department of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, and/or a Chief Sustainability Officer who oversees the efforts of the town, are more likely to do better on a broad spectrum of issues than those without. 

Director of Sustainability Name Card

Many municipalities have citizen environmental commissions or committees, which provide a good starting point for action, but they are not a substitute for a dedicated office or staff person. 

We strongly recommend that the Office or Department have both the responsibility and the authority to coordinate local governmental efforts, and to develop and maintain effective communications between residents and local decision makers, as well as with surrounding municipalities.


The Township of Montclair, NJ was the first municipality in the State of New Jersey to set up a recycling program, and one of the first to sponsor a farmers' market. Today, Environmental Affairs Coordinator Lisa Johnson oversees all of the town's efforts to be green, from biodiesel vehicles, to composting, to disposing of e-waste.

In 2007, the City of Knoxville, TN created an Energy & Sustainability Initiative, updated in 2021, that has helped make Knoxville a greener, more sustainable city. Knoxville was among the top finalists for the 2017 C40 Cities Awards.


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