By Mary Hladky

Boca Raton residents offered their ideas on ways to improve environmental safeguards and sustainability at a March 27 session that sought their input.

Their views will be incorporated into a city sustainability action plan, the first major initiative of the new Office of Sustainability launched in May with the hiring of Lindsey Nieratka as manager.

The plan will be updated every five years and will focus on resource use, waste, the environment, building structures and transportation.

“The sustainability action plan will be our road map going forward,” Nieratka told the 20 residents who attended the session.

Among the goals are reducing water and electricity usage, using renewable sources of energy, decreasing waste and increasing recycling rates, reducing water pollution, improving habitat for wildlife, constructing new buildings in the city that have less environmental impact, adding trees and green space, increasing the number of green buildings and improving the city’s ability to withstand flooding and sea level rise.

Residents offered a range of ideas, including some measures the city already has implemented.

Among them were adding solar panels to rooftops, glazing windows, holding programs to teach people how to recycle correctly, reducing or eliminating pesticide use, subsidizing fares for people using ride-sharing services, revamping bus stops to make them more comfortable, harvesting rainwater and increasing the size and funding of the sustainability office.

The sustainability action plan will complement a climate change vulnerability assessment being developed by the Coastal Resilience Partnership, which consists of Boca Raton and nine other coastal cities and towns. It will assess the vulnerability of coastal communities to climate change and sea level rise.

Nieratka will hold additional public input sessions before the plan is finalized.

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