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Definitions and Principles

The Wingspread Principles:
A Community Vision for Sustainability

Disaster-Preparedness: Building for a Sustainable Future

To ensure for the safety of people and the livability of communities, significant resources for disaster planning, mitigation and recovery should be provided. Resources should provide for education and encourage the use of innovative approaches that result in positive changes. Resources should be invested consistent with the following principles:

  • Sustainability – Disaster mitigation and recovery resources should be invested to improve the quality of life in the areas of public health and safety, environmental stewardship, and social and economic security.
  • Planning & Incentives – Plans designed to reduce the impact of disasters and to encourage recovery should provide incentives to individuals, the private sector, and government to pursue sustainable development and redevelopment.
  • Partnerships – Individual citizens, the private sector, and local, state, and federal governments should act as partners with shared goals and values to further the capacity of our communities to be self-sufficient.
  • Locally Driven Process – Decisions should be driven by a consensus-based, inclusive process that stakeholders use and trust. The process should identify local sustainability priorities, leading to the investment of pre-and-post disaster resources that will meet those needs, emphasizing the need for local responsibility and self-sufficiency.
  Pre-disaster Mitigation Checklist:

  • Prepare an integrated, comprehensive emergency management plan that meets immediate needs and provides for long-term recovery and mitigation.
  • Make certain that the immediate recovery plan and the long-term mitigation plan reinforce each other and the community vision.
  • Know where your resources are for both efforts.


Response – Immediate needs

  • Secure public safety and implement the emergency management plan.
Recovery – Long-term Plan

  • Designate a recovery team (distinct from the response team) that provides a two-way communications process with the community.
  • Educate the community and its leaders about sustainable redevelopment and best practices with the assistance of outside expertise, video and electronic resources, and green resource directories.
  • Evaluate opportunities to build a better, more disaster-resistant, sustainable community than existed before.
  • Develop a common vision for a sustainable recovery development plan, charge the local planning and design professionals with implementing it, and develop a methodology for on-going communications.


I. Education

  • Policy experts, advocates, government officials, and local elected leaders should help connect sustainable development constituencies with those who work on disaster mitigation and prevention, to better connect both sets of issues and to share information, resources, tools, and ideas.
  • Sustainable redevelopment and mitigation experts should work to better educate the public, homeowners, and consumers about the benefits of disaster mitigation and prevention in lessening the impact of natural disasters. Information could include specific household prevention tips as well as broad information on the negative consequences of not planning for natural disasters (insurance costs, damage to homes and businesses, as well as to the local economy.)
  • Sustainable redevelopment and mitigation experts should work with local elected officials and their national associations to provide training and education on the connections between sustainable development and disaster mitigation. This will ensure that this key constituency has the information and resources to address these potential problems.
  • Sustainable redevelopment experts should sponsor workshops and other educational forums for contractors and developers, to familiarize them with sustainable technologies and practices. These forums are most effective if led by peers. Sustainable redevelopment experts should work to better quantify the costs of not planning or mitigating natural disasters, then disseminate that analysis to the public and key decision-makers.
  • User-friendly pamphlets, reports, Web sites, and training materials should be developed to promote prevention, planning, and awareness of policies and practices that will make sustainable redevelopment available to more communities.
  • Foundations, businesses, and all levels of government should support peer-to-peer learning about sustainable redevelopment. They should also work to develop champions for sustainable redevelopment among a broad array of constituencies. These champions should help lead their constituencies to further educate, inform, and serve as a resource on these issues.
  • Prior to disaster, sustainable development leaders should conduct an outreach campaign in disaster-prone areas to educate citizens about the concept of sustainable redevelopment.
  • The federal government should ensure that sustainable development expertise is included in disaster assistance teams sent to affected communities. EPA, DOC, DOE, and FEMA are sources of this expertise.
  • Following disasters, sustainable redevelopment experts should work within FEMA's Disaster Recovery Centers and at public meetings to inform interested citizens and community groups about the benefits of sustainable redevelopment.
  • Develop resource materials and conduct training for federal disaster response officials to build awareness of sustainable redevelopment, its benefits, and the various programs that can be used.
  • Ensure that future supplemental appropriations bills for disaster assistance contain funds earmarked for technical assistance activities by EPA, DOE, DOC and other federal agencies with sustainable development expertise.
  • Establish a sustainable redevelopment "strike team" that will deploy to disaster areas within one week of a presidentially declared disaster to hold workshops with state and local representatives and to work with other federal agencies on redevelopment issues.
  • Create a state/federal/local outreach effort to educate local leaders in disaster-prone communities about sustainable redevelopment, and the cost-effective, cutting-edge technologies they can use to improve their communities during recovery.
  • Work with the Joint Center for Sustainable Communities.
  • Conduct an on-going campaign in disaster-prone areas to educate citizens about the concept of sustainable redevelopment and how it can help them recover from current disasters and mitigate future disasters.
  • Following a disaster, officials with expertise in sustainable redevelopment should be included in FEMA's Disaster Recovery Centers and in selected public meetings within the disaster area to speak to interested citizens and community groups.
  • Do a life-cycle cost analysis to evaluate investment of sustainable alternatives within disaster-prone communities.
  • Immediately following a disaster, establish a sustainable redevelopment outreach effort to state and local officials to identify redevelopment priorities and alternatives.
II. Planning

  • Sustainable redevelopment experts should clarify to the public, the roles that local, state, and federal agencies play in helping communities plan for natural disasters. This advance educational effort should help diminish frustration following a disaster by making the public more knowledgeable about where they can find help.
  • Leaders in the field of sustainable redevelopment, disaster mitigation, and disaster relief should constantly emphasize the importance of planning, prevention, and anticipation.
  • Local communities should create lists of local providers of services, information, and technical training on a broad range of sustainable technologies and practices. These individuals can then be quickly mobilized and hired following a disaster.
  • Regions, states, counties, and communities should, where appropriate, create mitigation councils modeled on the successes of other mitigation councils throughout the country.
  • Local elected leaders, planners, and community development officials should integrate disaster planning into community planning and sustainable development/community initiatives.
  • States, counties, and local governments should conduct procurement planning to ensure that the most energy-efficient and advanced products can be easily purchased following a disaster. Emphasis should be given to bulk purchasing to decrease costs.
  • States, counties, and local governments should create local-state recovery teams to work together on disaster-planning, thereby creating partnerships that can be drawn upon in the event of a disaster.
  • Make available to local contractors, material suppliers, designers and other sustainable development providers, lists of standards and qualifications.
  • Develop plans and priorities for sustainable redevelopment prior to the occurrence of a disaster, so it is available, and has broad-based consensus, at the time of the next event. This should include a community-based vision for where the community wants to be in the future.
III. Incentives/Financing

  • The federal government should allocate one-percent of disaster appropriations for sustainable redevelopment technical assistance.
  • State and federal governments should coordinate and package funding, incentives, financing, and technical assistance for disaster mitigation and sustainable redevelopment.
  • For communities to qualify for priority funding following disasters, incentives, financing, and funding should be closely tied to performance standards for prevention.
  • The White House and federal agencies should lead the way in weaving sustainable development efforts and initiatives into disaster mitigation and redevelopment initiatives.
  • The federal government needs to identify and eliminate disincentives to sustainable redevelopment.
  • Private sector and economic development agencies should lead the way in promoting disaster planning and sustainable mitigation efforts, given the potential catastrophic effects of disasters to local community economies.
  • At state and local levels, locate capital -- for example, utility loan programs or state energy programs -- that can supplement federal disaster relief to help victims finance the purchase of energy efficient appliances and building features.
  • Work with financial institutions, credit card issuers, and retailers to provide low-interest loans and/or cost reductions to disaster survivors choosing sustainable development technologies and methods.
  • Coordinate federal, state and local funding mechanisms. Within disaster areas, employ federal program flexibility similar to that used in empowerment zones.
  • Reconsider existing land use, building codes, and financial policies that stimulate disaster-prone development.
  • Have communities adopt a model code, post-disaster, that will allow funding programs to upgrade reconstruction.
  • Structure federal solicitations for technical assistance and planning contractors, to encourage sustainable redevelopment expertise as a selection criteria or ranking factor.
  • Require existing contractors to subcontract with firms having sustainable development experience and expertise.
  • Contact local universities and professional societies to help educate and assist consultants with effective sustainable development strategies.
  • Offer state or federal assistance that pays the incremental costs for building owners to use sustainable technologies in rebuilding.

IV. Building Local Capacity

  • State and federal governments should build local disaster-planning capacity by better coordinating existing technical assistance, training, and other programs or activities-- in the areas of environmental protection, economic development, community planning, etc.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all solution; decision-making should move to the most local level of government appropriate to the situation (regional, local, etc.)
  • Local governments should institute management training with an emphasis on institutional quality management that would help build skills for handling emergency situations.
  • Prepare and disseminate a sustainable development/redevelopment guide and resource book to provide general guidance and points of contact for more information (FEMA could assist with this activity, both in terms of its development and in its distribution in the disaster area after an event occurs).
  • Sustainable redevelopment experts at all levels of government should provide technical assistance, as well as information on case studies of communities that have previously benefited from applying sustainable redevelopment principles before or after disasters.
  • Communities should create local teams of government agencies and development groups to participate in planning efforts and that can also be quickly mobilized if disaster strikes.
  • At local and regional levels, train and equip local planning officials in sustainable redevelopment prior to disasters so they can champion the strategy in disaster recovery.
  • At all levels, instruct outside experts to work closely with, and not against, local planning officials. Find ways to encourage local planners' ownership in sustainable options.
  • When outside experts are required in disaster recovery, deploy them early in the process, before local planners have invested time, money and reputation in unsustainable plans.
  • In disaster situations, use funding agency contracts between the community, consultants and contractors to ensure that the local planners carry out the vision of the community rather than their own agenda.

    Wingspread Action Plan

    This section represents the individual commitments made by Wingspread participants to further the goal of strengthening the use of sustainable development principles and technologies in disaster recovery and mitigation:

  • Michael Armstrong -- Meet disaster community’s key folks to bring in Sustainable Development experts after a disaster and also help share information that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gathers.
  • Michael Armstrong -- FEMA will support Keith McLaughlin’s efforts to promote the Wingspread products to President’s Council for Sustainable Development and the White House.
  • Michael Armstrong -- Talk to FEMA staff about modifying funding criteria to encourage disaster-communities to find local contractors that have sustainable technology expertise. FEMA & Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should send contractors in (as part of their response teams) that know about sustainable development.
  • Michael Armstrong -- Have staff at FEMA, Regional Interagency Steering Committee and Department of Defense offer resources to risk response and recovery direction.
  • Bill Browning – Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). Take Wingspread attendees and others through the RMI design planning process/plan review.
  • Bill Browning Work with Haymount, VA, a new sustainable community, in its effort to become a model of disaster resilience and sustainable development.
  • Bill Becker – Follow up on this action plan; report back to group at the end of six months on actions taken.
  • Bill Becker – Identify a toolkit on the issues discussed at the conference.
  • Percy Malone -- create a list of the state-wide impediments to disaster mitigation in Arkansas and to change state legislation if necessary.
  • Percy Malone -- Work to get Small Business Administration (SBA) pre-disaster funds.
  • Harvey Ryland – Request appropriate entities in the insurance industry to support federal legislation that will improve federal flood insurance.
  • Gwyndolen Clark Reed -- Propose at the National League of Cities’ (NLC) annual meeting, a Wingspread resolution that will encourage the NLC to actively support the Wingspread policy recommendations
  • Gwyndolen Clark Reed -- Take Wingspread issues to the NLC conference and NLC Public Safety Committee.
  • Dan Williams -- Create a slideshow on these issues for community leaders.
  • Bruce Snead -- Assist Dan Williams with his proposed slide show.
  • Bruce Snead -- Discuss Wingspread issues with Manhattan, KS, city officials; take issues to the established city/county meetings.
  • Julie Palakovich – In 1998, will work to hold four to five conferences on natural disasters within the state of Washington.
  • Julie Palakovich -- Coordinate a meeting between the state of Washington FEMA office and state program managers to inform them of the Wingspread Conference and Principles.
  • Morris Jenkins -- Work in Arkansas to expand the state energy offices' work focusing on national disasters.
  • Shirley Dean -- Include Wingspread Principles into the Berkeley Council Review.
  • Shirley Dean -- Sponsor a Wingspread/DOE event in Berkeley with the U of CA/Berkeley Institute of Urban Land Planning.
  • Shirley Dean – Include the Wingspread Principles in the June agenda for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual meeting in Reno, NV.
  • Angela Park -- Organize February President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) monthly briefing on this issue for the Washington, D.C. audience and the general public [Completed].
  • Nancy Skinner -- Host a radio show on this topic during 1998.
  • John Bullard -- Implement Wingspread/Sustainable Development in New Bedford, CT.
  • John Bullard -- Brief National Oceanic Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) officials about the Wingspread Conference and Principles.
  • Jim Schwab -- Facilitate discussions on the Wingspread Principles, with American Planning Association (APA) chapters, at APA regional conferences.
  • Jim Schwab -- APA is drafting a model of disaster plans; at the next APA conference, the organization will host a panel for planners on this issue.
  • Bob Berkebile -- Help Jim Schwab with his proposed efforts within APA.
  • Don Murray – Explore a Wingspread resolution at the National Associations of Counties’ (NaCo) annual meeting in July.
  • Keith Laughlin -- Promote the Wingspread issues to the President’s Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and the White House.
  • Keith Laughlin -- Take Wingspread principles to the federal government’s Interagency Working Group on Sustainable Development.
  • Mike Selves -- Incorporate Wingspread ideas into the Johnson County Emergency Plan. At the next national meeting of Emergency Managers, he will invite issue experts to speak.
  • Terry Kauffman -- Incorporate Wingspread into the current sustainable communities initiative of the Pennsylvania Association of Counties.
  • Terry Kauffman -- Bring Lancaster County officials together to combine the county emergency and comprehensive plans into one document.
  • Nick Keller -- Write an article on these Wingspread issues for NaCo’s newspaper. Continue to offer peer-to-peer support to city/county disaster related request.
  • Bob Hart --Take Wingspread issues to upcoming City of Georgetown, TX, meetings.
  • Bill Asti and Morris Jenkins -- Reach out to Arkansas foundations to encourage them to fund projects related to these issues.
  • Don Stamper -- Continue current city/county sustainable community efforts. Meet with disaster office officials in Missouri; also take Wingspread ideas to the next meeting of the Missouri Association of Counties.
  • Floyd Lawrence – Invite Nick Keller, NaCo, to speak at the next National Association of County Engineers board meeting to discuss Wingspread Principles.
  • Participating Organizations -- Place, or hot-link, Wingspread Principles onto their existing web sites.

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