A new year provides us the opportunity to reflect on our past and to look toward the future.
Since its founding in 2011, the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission has a long list of meaningful accomplishments.
The ESC launched gogreenhilliard.com in 2013, a website dedicated to providing information about sustainability, and it allows Hilliard businesses and residences to take a pledge to be more sustainable.
In 2014, the ESC was awarded funding by the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio to purchase recycling containers for Hilliard parks and public spaces.
Through funding provided by Hilliard City Council, the ESC initiated a partnership with energy-monitoring software company JadeTrack to become one of the first communities in the region monitoring utility usage.
This evaluation led to a 2017 capital-improvements project to replace the light fixtures in the Hilliard Community Center gym, an undertaking that should pay for itself this year in electricity-usage savings.
Most recently, in 2018, Hilliard was awarded additional funds from SWACO for recycling containers at the pools and was certified as a Keep America Beautiful affiliate.
In addition to these one-time projects, the ESC continues to organize several annual activities.
Our flagship event is the Earth Day celebration that annually draws hundreds of residents to participate in sustainability-related activities.
We also collect old Christmas lights at the annual tree-lighting ceremony so they can be recycled properly.
Since 2014, the ESC also has held a post-holiday Styrofoam collection to keep those materials from entering our landfill.
Though these accomplishments are great, the ESC has more work to do.
On Jan. 16, the ESC launched a redesigned and updated gogreenhilliard.com. This update has been months in the making and will provide residents a more user-friendly experience and a comprehensive source for information about environmental sustainability.
In addition, the ESC continues to explore all avenues to push forward with plans for a new community garden and orchard, along with a facility on that site for sustainability education.Progress has been slow, but the hope is to have work underway within the next two years.
The ESC also will continue to explore how to improve the city's waste-diversion rate. This will include initiatives to improve recycling in Old Hilliard, which has seen a huge increase in foot traffic with the addition of new businesses and events.
We will continue to look at the feasibility of business recycling programs, particularly for restaurants that generate substantial waste that could be recycled, but often is not. A pilot program offering residential compost collection also is under discussion.
The ESC also will look continuously at codes and regulations to be sure that we are encouraging and requiring stewardship of the environment, particularly in the sensitive Big Darby region.
Even as our plate fills up with these new initiatives, we will continue our annual events and efforts at community outreach.
Our commission members are passionate in their drive to make Hilliard a leader in sustainability. We are looking forward to the challenges and opportunities before us in 2019 and beyond.
Hilliard City Councilman Pete Marsh is the council liaison to the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.