History of Sustainable Cheltenham


Sustainable Cheltenham Logo  

History of the Project

In the spring of 2011, the Cheltenham Township Commissioners decided to initiate a township-wide planning effort to create a Sustainability Plan, in response to a growing interest among citizens to explore ways to make the community more resilient and environmentally friendly.  Residents, businesses, community groups and organizations are all stakeholders in the plan, which seeks to create a shared vision for a sustainable community, shared goals to achieve that vision, and a set of specific actions that the community can take to become a sustainable municipality. 

The Township hired Montgomery County Planning Commission to serve as the consultant to help create the plan.  In May 2011 a group of 45 citizens, elected and appointed Township officials and staff, and representatives of major Cheltenham institutions, including the School District, Arcadia University, and Einstein Hospital, were selected to represent the community on the Sustainable Cheltenham General Committee.  On June 29 2011, the Committee had its first meeting to kick off what is anticipated to be an 18-month planning process.  The Township is expected to have a completed plan and begin implementation in early 2013, though some implementation projects may be ready to begin sooner.  

Mission & Planning Goals

Our mission is to identify aggressive goals that will further the vision of a Sustainable Cheltenham, that can be implemented with a set of concrete, achievable actions that can be accomplished by Cheltenham Township government and the community’s sustainability partners.

The Sustainability Planning Committee and consultant team strive to:

  • Foster and create a community-wide VISION for a Sustainable Cheltenham
  • Evaluate where we are now and where we want to be in the future
  • Identify aggressive but achievable actions that will lead to achievement of the Vision 
  • Foster communication and collaboration between the many stakeholders in the process, including but not limited to residents, students, institutions, business and property owners
  • Solicit public input throughout the process
  • Recommend innovative and feasible actions that can be accomplished by Cheltenham Township's government and their sustainability partners
  • Provide a roadmap for implementation and metrics to evaluate success

Guiding Principles

The plan seeks to address these questions in the context of Cheltenham Township:

  • How can we reduce and eventually eliminate our dependence on nonrenewable energy sources? 
  • How can we reduce waste, both pollutants and trash?
  • How can we better protect and restore our natural environment?
  • How can we assure that we are equitably sharing resources and meeting basic human needs, both in our community and in the world?
  • What can be done to save resources and money in our government, school district, businesses, and households?
  • How can the Township and its partners engage the whole community to work together to meet the goals of the plan?

    (Thanks to The Natural Step for the first four guiding sustainability principles shown here.)

Planning Process

The Cheltenham Township Sustainability Planning Committee meets monthly to create an Action Plan that the community can then implement. The process began on June 29, 2011 with our first committee meeting.

Step 1:  Where are we now? Where are we headed?
In summer 2011, MCPC consultants worked on the first phase of the project, which is data collection, inventory and analysis. We answered the questions: "Where are we now?" and "Where are we headed?"  MCPC presented a report - see the "Documents" page of this website for a presentation of the results of the inventory. 

Step 2:  Where do we want to be in the future?
In the second phase, the Committee created a community-wide vision for a sustainable future, and identified specific goals, targets, and objectives to achieve that vision.  The Committee held a Visioning Workshop in November, 2011.  This was followed by public Open House in March 2012 to publicize and receive feedback on the goals and objectives.

Step 3:  How do we get there?
In the third phase, the committee and consultants figure out what actions the community needs to take to reach its goals.  The committee is developing specific recommendations, which may include policy changes, implementation of new incentive programs, capital and infrastructure improvements, lobbying and coordination with regional, state, and federal agencies, grant writing, and public outreach initiatives, among other things. The Community Sustainability Plan will provide a set of recommendations for implementing each goal.

Step 4:  Action Plan
The Action Plan will have two components: 

1.  The Community Sustainability Plan, which will be broad, general, and provide a format that a wide variety of community groups can follow and uphold.

2.  The Municipal Action Plan, which will provide specific recommendations for the Township Government to implement over the next 5-10 years in order to provide leadership, municipal energy and cost savings, and provide incentives and policy initiatives that will support the Community Sustainability Plan goals.


Step 5: Implementation

After the Plans are approved by the community and the Township, the Township and its partners will then move ahead with implementing the recommendations of the Sustainability Plan and the Action Plan.  The Sustainable Cheltenham group will take the lead in helping the Township implement public outreach and programs, apply for grants, present ideas to the public and the Commissioners, create and maintain a website, maintain relationships with partner organizations, monitor and track progress on key measures, and generally take responsibility for the implementation of the Plan.