SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A draft plan that could impact how green Sioux Falls lives and grows in the future will get revamped as input from more community and business representatives is sought.

The city’s sustainability office just completed a three week public comment period on the “Draft Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.” The feedback ranged from positive to very concerned, according to city officials.

The steering committee that developed the draft plan did a good job but now, the city can build on that good work, said Mark Cotter, the director of public works in Sioux Falls.

One example of feedback received during the comment period was how natural gas and electricity suppliers are often intertwined or work together, Cotter said.

The city can learn more about the relationship between the two energy sources, such as electrical energy suppliers that use both, Cotter said.

The draft plan calls for moving toward electric energy supplied by clean energy sources and moving away from natural gas. A possible pathway to move to electric energy from clean energy sources is for all utilities to follow Xcel Energy’s target of 80% emissions reduction from a 2005 baseline, according to the draft plan.

Inflation has also prompted questions about needing more information on the financial pieces of sustainable and climate action goals.

Holly Meier, the city’s sustainability coordinator said both short term and long term financial pieces must be considered. “…balancing the short term with the long term benefits is one of the things I was hearing,” Meier said.

Cotter used the city’s program to replace aging toilets and water fixtures as an example of the financial pieces that can be shared. Replacing old toilets and faucets with more efficient toilets and fixtures save the homeowner in water bills and sewer bills. It also saves the city millions of gallons of water each day, Cotter said.

Cotter said that example shows a cost benefit analysis for sustainable options can be included in the revamped sustainability plan.

“I think we were impressed with the level of engagement,” Cotter said of the received feedback.

In addition to involving more utility companies the city will also reach out to more home builders; automotive, trucking, and construction industries; and other interested parties.

Those groups were not ignored on the steering committee as the committee had representation from business, industry and utilities, Meier said. “We had a wide representation of stakeholders,” she said.

Steering committee members listed on the draft plan included representatives from an energy company, a meatpacking company, an architectural firm, the school district and others.

But throughout March, “We were hearing from additional (groups) that we weren’t able to reach before,” Meier said.

According to the draft sustainability plan, “More than half of Sioux Falls community emissions come from buildings, making it the leading contributor to our community emissions and critical to address.”

Cotter said the city will reach out to more homebuilders, particularly in the area of affordable housing, who are already implementing some sustainable practices in constructing homes.

The draft plan’s steering committee posted an online survey in April of 2021. It had a public open house on the proposed plan in October. The three-week-comment period went from March 1 to March 21.

“Our intent was to seek as much input as we could,” Meier said.

The steering committee had planned to introduce the plan to the council on Earth Day in April but now, the revised plan will be presented to the council in 2023.

Discussions about sustainability, climate change, greenhouse gasses are not new to the city in this century.

The city adopted a sustainability plan in 2012 that reviewed greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) within the city operations and other sectors.

One of the goals of the 2012 plan was to decrease GHG emissions from city government activities by 50% in 2017.

The draft of today’s sustainability plans calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 in the city as a whole with net-zero emissions by 2050. According to the plan, 41% of all the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation.

A 2008 report to the city said the city government should take five basic steps to climate protection including developing a climate action plan.