GPCOG Sustainability

Sustainability Initiative

Over the past two years, the Executive Board of the Greater Portland Council of Governments has kept the concept of sustainability at the forefront of discussions and planning. This board-driven initiative has brought the interplay of the three legs of sustainability (environment, economy and community) into the services and planning efforts of GPCOG.

Sustain Southern Maine Website - NEW!!
Sustainability Principles

Southern Maine Partnership for Sustainable Development

Forum Series

Lakes Region Comprehensive Planning Initiative

Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • For our New Energy Website "EmPowerMe," please click here.

Sustainability Principles



In September 2008, the GPCOG Sustainability Task Force held a retreat at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to develop a set of principles on which to base GPCOG’s sustainability planning efforts.  Breakout groups developed individual sets of principles that were later synthesized and adopted by the Executive Committee in October 2008.

A sustainable Greater Portland Region is one that…

  1. Uses non-renewable resources sparingly, renewable resources at a sustainable rate, and in a continuous cycle
  2. Remains flexible and adapts to changing opportunities and challenges
  3. Maintains and protects Southern Maine's traditional resource-based industries of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, while recognizing opportunities for sustainable global commerce
  4. Recognizes, plans for, and values a diversity of housing, transportation, educational and employment opportunities for a varied and competitive workforce
  5. Analyzes development opportunities based on long term effects on the regional economy, environment and community
  6. Recognizes and protects natural, cultural and diverse human qualities that make the region unique and enhance the quality of life/quality of place for current and future generations
  7. Thinks globally, acts regionally, and respects the local interests of its citizens

Sustainability Principles PDF


Forum Series     

Education and outreach play an important role in GPCOG’s commitment to sustainability. GPCOG has put together a public forum series that focuses on the three legs of sustainability (environment, economy and community).  In March 2008, GPCOG held the first of its annual forums focusing on the environment, featuring energy expert Charlie Stephens from Oak Grove, OregonThe second forum was held in March 2009 and featured nationally known economist Michael Shuman, author of “Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age” and “The Small-Mart Revolution:  How Local Businesses are Beating the Global Competition.”  The third forum is scheduled for June 3, 2011 on the importance of community in sustainability.  Please click on the link to each presentation for downloads and more details.


“Engaging Community for a Sustainable Future ”

Date:  June 3, 2011


Lee Community Hall, Wishcamper Center

Muskie School of Public Service

University of Southern Maine - Portland Campus

Time: Registration and Refreshments at 8:00 a.m.

Program: 8:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

You are invited to spend Friday morning June 3 at the USM campus with Ori Brafman, author and entrepreneur, and Robert Beinstein and Erin Mosley of CH2M HILL, an international consulting firm recognized by Fortune magazine as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.


Brought together by the Greater Portland Council of Governments, Brafman and CH2M HILL’s Beinstein and Mosley will inform, stimulate, and challenge your thinking on the power of community and how to leverage that power in building a sustainable economic future.

Engaging Community for a Sustainable Future will begin with Beinstein and Mosley presenting three projects that CH2M HILL is actively involved with: Masdar, an initiative of the United Arab Emirates to develop the world’s first carbon-neutral zero waste city; Onondaga County, New York’s “Save the Rain” comprehensive plan to clean up and restore Onondaga Lake; and the 2012 London Olympic Games, the first “Green Games” in the history of the modern Olympics. This presentation will include a review of the public process involved in three different projects in three uniquely different cultures but with the shared objective of advancing the vision of sustainability into the reality of implementation.

Ori Brafman will follow with a presentation that draws from his groundbreaking books "The Starfish and The Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations" and "Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior" as he analyzes and explains the power of decentralization in a world dominated by centralized, hierarchal organizations. His presentation will conclude with an audience-oriented Liberating Structures Exercise.  

The program will conclude with Bob and Erin collaborating with Ori in a group exercise built around three challenges facing the greater Portland-Southern Maine region.



Keynote:  Ori Brafman - renowned organizational expert and author of "The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations," and "Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior."  Ori has appeared in the New York Times, ABC News, the BBC, National Public Radio, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, CSPAN, AP Video, and National-Cable Radio, among others.  He has presented before audiences at Microsoft, Amazon, Televisa, Stanford Business School, Harvard Business School, and many others. Mr. Brafman holds a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.

The program will also feature Robert M. Beinstein, Director of State and Municipal Programs at CH2M HILL, and Erin Mosley, Senior Project manager at CH2M HILL.  CH2M HILL is a global leader in consulting, design, design-build, operations, and program management for government, civil, industrial and energy clients. The firm has been named a “stand out” leader in engineering capabilities and sustainability strategy by Verdantix®, honored as a FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For five times, and named to the World’s Most Ethical Companies list for the past three years by Ethisphere Institute.

Click here for more information.

Click here to register.


“Toward a Sustainable Regional Economy”

Keynote: Michael Shuman

Date:  March 27, 2009

More information is available here


“Preparing Our Region for a Sustainable Energy Future”

Keynote: Charlie Stephens

Date:  March 21, 2008

Click here for more information on the presentation

Click here to order DVD


GPCOG Sustainable Forum Series:  “Toward a Sustainable Energy Future.”

Almost 200 people attended GPCOG’s first forum on sustainability, which featured a riveting presentation by Charlie Stephens, a former senior policy analyst with the Oregon Department of Energy.  Mr. Stephens created Oregon’s Sustainable Building Tax Credit Program and is a leading expert on sustainable community development, energy efficiency strategies and new technologies.  The presentation reflected on the current world energy situation and on steps we can take to consume energy at a more sustainable rate. 

In addition to the talk by Stephens, there was an interactive panel representing diverse perspectives on sustainability. The panel included Nancy Artz, chair of USM’s Presidential Council on Campus Climate Neutrality; Rick Michaud, administrator for the City of Saco, one of Maine’s greenest communities; and Christa Koehler of Clean Air Cool Planet, who helps guide communities in becoming energy independent and creating sustainable local economies.

Click here for a Summary of Charlie Stephens' Suggestions



Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

**For more information, please see our NEW website: EmPowerMe.This website provides energy reduction resources for local governments and a porthole for the Cumberland County energy planning process called EmPower Cumberland County.** 

Maine Energy Handbook available!  For more information, see below. To download a compressed version of the handbook (faster download), click here

GPCOG has partnered with Clean Air-Cool Planet (CA-CP) to undertake a multi-year project to achieve significant reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions through an assertive community mobilization effort in the GPCOG region. This initiative will help to implement the Sustainability Principles adopted by the COG Executive Committee.  


A regional approach to energy and greenhouse gas reductions has two advantages. First, many potential greenhouse gas producers, such as transportation, cannot be addressed by individual towns alone; and second, towns can work collaboratively and achieve economies of scale on community-level solutions.  By working regionally, we will foster increased dialogue on climate change and energy issues among stakeholders in different communities who can collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Steering Committee and EmPowerMe Working Group

  • The Steering Committee, comprised of GPCOG’s Executive Committee, will guide the process
  • GPCOG and CA-CP formed an energy working group, now known as EmPowerMe, in February of 2010. 
    • EmPowerMe consists of representatives from the public, private and non-profit sectors, with an interest/and or expertise in reducing energy and greenhouse gas emissions, particularly at the local level. 
    • The mission of EmPowerMe is to reduce regional energy use and greenhouse gas emissions through strategic energy planning, public outreach and the provision of resources and technical support to municipalities and local energy committees.  
    • EmPowerMe recently supported the development of the Maine Energy Handbook, discussed below.
    • With funding from Cumberland County's Department of Energy block grant, and utilizing the regional inventory as a foundation, EmPowerMe is developing a Cumberland County energy and climate plan discussed below.
    • If you are interested in serving on EmPowerMe, please contact Jennifer Puser

Regional and Municipal Energy and Greenhouse Gas Inventories

  • In order to effectively reduce energy and greenhouse gas emissions, it helps to identify inefficiencies through an energy and greenhouse gas inventory. Inventories also help energy users track changes in energy use and emissions over time.
  • Using ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability support and software, a CA-CP intern, hosted by GPCOG, recently completed a Regional Energy and Emissions Inventory. Click here to read an executive summary, click here to read the full report, and click here to view a PowerPoint presentation of results.
  • Funding permitted, individual municipal Inventories will be conducted for all GPCOG member municipalities. GPCOG has completed two pilot municipal inventories (Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth), which it conducted using ICLEI software and protocols. GPCOG is working with three additional towns in the region through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. North Yarmouth's energy inventory is complete (click here to download the executive summary and click here to download the full report).  Windham and Gray's energy inventories are in process.

Cumberland County Energy and Climate Plan - EmPower Cumberland County

  • With funding from Cumberland County's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, EmPowerMe is using the Regional Energy and Emissions Inventory as a basis for development of a Cumberland County energy and climate plan, which will inform the ways in which municipalities, their communities and the private sector conserve, generate, use and diversify energy in the region. 
  • The Cumberland County energy and climate plan will ideally integrate with the Regional Comprehensive Plan above, as well as other regional plans.
  • For more information on EmPower Cumberland County, click here

Workshops - GPCOG is hosting workshops related to climate and energy.  Materials from past workshops are posted below. 

Maine Energy Handbook - GPCOG is very pleased to announce the completion of The Maine Energy Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Municipal Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy.  This Handbook was created to provide a single, complete, and trustworthy guide to help municipalities and individuals achieve energy successes more reliably and quickly by putting all of the need-to-know information together for towns and cities in a patented ‘Six Steps for Success’ process:

  1. Connect with Helpful Resources
  2. Organize Efforts
  3. Assess Energy Use
  4. Identify Efficiency Options
  5. Identify Financing Opportunities
  6. Evaluate and Implement Measures

To download a compressed version of the handbook (faster download), click here

Maine Clean Communities - Maine Clean Communities is a locally based government/industry partnership, coordinated by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and administered by GPCOG to expand the use of alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuel, and reduce the use of petroleum for transportation.  To visit the Maine Clean Communities website, please click here. 

Climate Fellows - GPCOG was privileged to host two Clean Air-Cool Planet Climate Fellows during the summer of 2010:

  • Steve Erario adapted CA-CP’s New Hampshire Handbook on Energy Efficiency and Climate Change to Maine. Please see above for more information on the handbook. Click here to see Steve's CA-CP blog post from June, and click here to see his post from July.
  • Ben Lake worked to expand GPCOG's cooperative purchasing program to include energy efficiency technology.  He also conducted an energy inventory of GPCOG. Click here to see Ben's CA-CP blog post from June, and click here to his post from August. 

GPCOG staff Rebecca Lambert and Steve Linnell (center) with Clean Air-Cool Planet Fellows Ben Lake (left) and Steve Erario (right)

Photo courtesy of Bill Burtis, Clean Air-Cool Planet


Clean Air-Cool Planet

September 2014
 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30     
Text Size: [ - ] [ + ]



Upcoming Meetings
August 29-September 9...
learn more ...

GPCOG Annual Meeting Held
New Executive Committee Established...
learn more ...

Regional ReCOGnition Awards 2014
Falmouth, Gray and Scarborough received awards...
learn more ...