Workshop #1
October 30-31,2008

Transportation and water were primary issues addressed at the first NSLW workshop in Omaha in late October. Planning directors from the suburban Omaha area, city council and school board members from near Omaha and Brainerd learned about other sustainability issues as diverse as community gardens, energy conservation, water quality and conservation and much more.

Three of the primary aims of the NSLW workshops are to:

Help leaders in Nebraska understand the interconnectedness of economic development, public policy, technological, environmental and socio-cultural factors and endeavors, and to learn to use the EcoSTEP™ tool to measure sustainability.

Learn how to enhance leadership skills to effect changes in sustainability endeavors, and how leaders can help to overcome lack of interest and/or resistence among key people in a community.

Build a network of leaders and experts throughout the state who can share ideas, information, and solutions with regard to issues of sustainability.

W. Cecil Steward, the creator of the NSLW and president of its sponsor, the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities, discussed the first aim with the group. Economic, technological, environmental, public policy, and socio-cultural are the Five Domains of Sustainability, as defined by Steward. Each affects the other, in a holistic and interdependent way. If there is a lack of balance among the Five Domains, problems can ensue.

"We live in one of the most fragile ecosystems in the Midwest," said Steward, referring to the fertile Todd Valley area that sits between Omaha and Lincoln, "and we have almost limitless changes to ruin it." Steward said that with an expected population of 2 million in the metroplex area within 40 years, demand for land, water, and all resources will be stretched, some to the breaking point. Sustainable development in our cities and villages is crucial.

Mary Ferdig, director of the Sustainability Leadership Institute, discussed characteristics of leadership and how those characteristics, with regard to enhancing leadership on issues of sustainability, are in themselves holistic.

Dr. Jay Leighter of Creighton University's Department of Communications, along with Ferdig and Steward, led the group through a series of inquiries and exercises about what issues of sustainability are of concern to them. Among issues addressed by the group were:

Transportation - how high density population versus sprawl affects transportation needs, workforce location versus jobs location, funding of transportation services, expectations of ridership, clean technology for buses, multi-modal transport, light rail systems

New Development - incentives to builders and developers to "think green", identifying people who are using cost-effective green practices, educating consumers and builders about cost-savings, building green without inhibiting building and development

Old Development - discussion of how we can make more progress on this front doing housing retrofits han in just about any other area, how this approach helps to revitalize blighted areas of a community

Water Use - Nebraskans are beginning to realize that our water use is reaching an unsustainable stage, helping legislators understand there is a relationship between ground water and surface water, the agricultural economy as it is now is dependent on a continued unsustainable use of water, the interconnectedness of urban and agricultural water uses, clean water use

Food Sources - encroachment on farmland by urban sprawl is a problem, quality of produce and crops versus quantity, safety concerns, production economics, community gardens, sustainable farming

Public Policy and Politics - how do we encourage and promote poltical will, where does regulatory authority begin and end, what is the role of a single city/county/state in regional/national/global issues, what to do to "sell" sustainabaility when there are barriers in the form of rules or people who are resistant.

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Resources from
Omaha Workshop

Most of the workshop materials can be downloaded from our Resources and Documents pages. Below are some materials specifically from the consultants and speakers at Workshop #1.

U.S. Green Building Council - Flatwater Chapter's Resource Guide — The Flatwater Chapter's Regional Products and Services Resource Guide was created to help not only teams seeking LEED certification, but also to help building owners, designers, contractors, and facility managers alike find sustainable building products right here in the heartland. It includes product vendors and green service providers within a 500-mile radius of the Omaha metropolitan area. You can promote your company's services and products through this guide. If you are interested in listing products in this spreadsheet, please download the Resource Guide in Microsoft Excel format and enter the required information. Email your completed form to and upon review, it will be uploaded to the most current resource guide. We reserve the right to reject any information. If you have comments or questions regarding this matrix, please contact us at

USGBC-NE Resources List PDF from Barbara Luna at FBG Service Corp.

Omaha Public Power District's Sustainability Efforts PowerPoint from Denise Kuehn at OPPD

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