KLA Perspectives

This Framework Can Institutionalize Your Climate + Sustainability Goals

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Sep 22, 2021 1:34:08 PM

We need rapid, bold action to fight the climate crisis. But we also need lasting solutions, and ones that aren’t confined to certain departments or that check off a few boxes – EV charging stations, some solar installations – in a climate action plan and call it a day. 

One of the tools we use at KLA to institutionalize our clients’ core sustainability and climate principles is a Sustainability or Climate Action Framework.

Watch a Video Overview

A Framework of this nature can be developed and deployed before, during or after a planning process and becomes a living document that local governments use to design, assess or screen a program, project or initiative to ensure it’s a net positive for the community’s core values.  The Framework can take many forms and be a simple set of criteria with some guiding questions (Example A below) or something more complex with a rating system (Example B below).  As the video below shows, this is basically a spreadsheet (but we make it look nice!) with several tabs that cover: summary, the framework, definitions, examples and metrics. Regardless of the exact format, the important part is that you’re considering the implications early in project development not as an afterthought or when it is too late to correct course.

Read More

22 Standard Metrics That Drive Climate Action

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Aug 30, 2021 1:52:18 PM

We are data nerds. We own it. We’re also passionate about stopping the climate crisis. Fortunately, those two are a good combination.

In fact, we’d argue aggressive, impactful climate action hinges entirely on how you – we’re looking at you, local government leaders – harness data. I wrote about our data-driven approach last month, and our Community Dashboard platform is where you can see how we use data for storytelling.

If you don’t get goosebumps thinking about the potential for Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), GIS floodplain data, waste tonnage or building square footage, don’t worry we’ve got you covered. This is just some of what we pulled together for the Thrive Indianapolis plan's Transportation and Land Use section:


We develop climate action plans for local governments around the clock – for small towns and giant cities and counties – and, through years of experience, we have identified some standard metrics. The table below (or downloadable here) breaks them down by category, why each data point is useful, and where to find it.

Read More

Is Data at the Center of Your Climate Action Plan? Here's Why It Should Be.

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Jul 28, 2021 2:41:37 PM

Last week the entire KLA Team gathered together in Boston for a team retreat, a focus of which was the importance of our data-driven approach to local government climate action planning. So we asked Kim to share a few key takeaways about the critical role that data plays in accelerating climate action. 


Why do local governments need a plan? We’re already doing a ton on climate -- can’t we just keep doing it without hitting pause for a plan?  


KIM: Yes, you’re already taking action. No, you most definitely should not stop that action for a planning process. But you need a plan to guide you to take the right actions. Think of it as a workplan to help meet your goals. At KLA we design our plans to be super actionable. You won’t solve climate change with a random set of actions – or with setting generic goals like “electrify everything by 2050.” Certainly not at the pace and scope of what’s required in the year 2021 with a critical decade for action.


We have to shift the conversation from WHAT should we do to HOW do we do it.

Read More

Combine In-Person + Virtual Engagement Strategies: Tools + Tips for the New Normal

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Jun 30, 2021 11:26:58 AM

As more and more Americans return to offices, schools, restaurants and an overall sense of normalcy, we’re all easing out of the gates as we explore the most effective ways to engage our communities in important conversations about climate change, sustainability, resilience and equity. What we’re finding reflects the status of the country as a whole: some folks are ready to dive back into in-person meetings and events while others would prefer – for logistical or health reasons – that virtual options remain in place.

That means local governments with planning initiatives underway or about to launch need to craft a hybrid engagement model – and that, in turn, will require creativity, new technologies and mindsets, and some investment of time and resources.

5 reasons people will be eager for in-person meetings:

  1. Zoom fatigue. It’s for real.
  2. Reconnect with and meet neighbors.
  3. A basic desire for human interaction, fresh air and to get out of the house.
  4. More hands-on brainstorming and discussion opportunities.
  5. Community events like farmers markets and concerts are up and running. For local governments seeking input you go where people are already.

5 reasons people might want to keep virtual options:

  1. Health concerns.
  2. Don’t have to worry about parking, childcare or time in transit, plus it’s easier for people with limited mobility or access to transit to participate.
  3. Some folks – introverts and otherwise -- have discovered they just feel more comfortable in a Zoom-type setting.
  4. Wider range of accessibility tools like closed captioning and, in some cases, translation.
  5. Greater flexibility for people to participate even if they are traveling or to engage expert speakers who might not be local.

Taking all those considerations into account, it’s clear that at least for the foreseeable future local governments will need some combination of in-person and virtual engagement options to truly involve the full spectrum of the community.

Read More

Circular Economy for Local Governments: Tipsheet, Resources + Webinar Recording

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Jun 29, 2021 1:58:00 PM

A "circular economy" isn't some radical, new idea. In fact, as Joe Giudice, Assistant Public Works Director for the City of Phoenix, shared on KLA's recent webinar, it's really the "new old way of doing things."

The notion that you design a product to only be used for a few minutes and then be tossed in a landfill is what's relatively new - and radically ridiculous. But it has become the standard for everything from the clothes we wear (think "fast fashion") to the products we buy (and all that packaging), with devastating consequences. 

Experts tell us that we have less than a decade to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to avoid the most dire impacts of climate change. When you consider the full life cycle (from extraction to production to movement to disposal) of the products that end up in the waste stream, the waste sector is actually quite a significant contributor to emissions. 

We recently invited Giudice along with Chris Castro from the City of Orlando, Bridget Croke of Closed Loop Partners and John Trujillo of NewFields, to join our Climate Solutions Series webinar to dive deeper into what local governments can do to build a culture of circularity. 

Read More

KLA Awarded APA Leadership in Sustainability Award of Excellence

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Jun 17, 2021 9:02:50 PM

KLA's Approach to Sustainability Values, Equitable Community Engagement, and Scalable Solutions Honored by APA's Sustainable Communities Division 

Big, awesome news to round out the week: tonight I accepted the American Planning Association's (APA) Leadership in Sustainability Award of Excellence for an Organization or Initiative, the 8th annual awards presented by APA's Sustainable Communities Division. The Leadership in Sustainability Award of Excellence honors those whose vision, leadership, and commitment have been fundamental to the evolution of sustainability planning, and have helped improve awareness of sustainability. Congrats to our fellow award winners -- you can watch short videos of each to see some truly innovative sustainability planning practices! 

Read More

Climate Solutions Webinar June 22: Circular Economy

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Jun 8, 2021 3:53:38 AM

Waste and Circular Economy the focus of second webinar in series on high impact GHG reduction strategies for local governments

Experts tell us that we have less than a decade to significantly reduce GHG emissions to avoid the most dire impacts of climate change. This means local governments must take aggressive action now.

Read More

Is Anyone Paying Attention to Your Presentation?

Posted by Kim Lundgren on May 26, 2021 9:50:17 AM

From Preparation to Content and Design to Delivery, How to Make Your Presentation Engaging, Accessible + Effective

A big part of the job for local government staff is presenting information to a range of audiences. We report on programs, goals and progress to our supervisors, elected officials, partners, stakeholders, and the community at large. We give Climate Change 101 talks, dive deep into transportation or another sector, rally the community to get involved, or present a completed plan or report.

But is anyone paying attention?

We’ve seen enough PowerPoint presentations to know that the answer is not always yes.

Given how critical broad stakeholder and community engagement is to achieving our climate and sustainability goals, we need to nail our presentations to “sell” our programs better. We’ve compiled a solid set of tips to help you improve your presentation skills. From preparation, to content and PowerPoint design to delivery – with bonus checklist and a template slide deck – we’ve got you covered.


You can download a set of PowerPoint slides that show some of these best practices in action. You'll notice 3 slides that clearly show what NOT to do, and all the slides have notes you'll want to read for context.

This checklist is also available to download as a reference. 

Read More

Net Zero Buildings: 4 Things for Local Governments to Consider

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Apr 28, 2021 12:25:48 PM

What we learned from the Net Zero buildings experts on our webinar

We kicked off the KLA Climate Solutions Series with an informative and engaging webinar discussion on how local governments can take steps toward implementing Net Zero buildings in their communities -- a critical step to achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions at a scale that truly matters for climate action. 

You can access the on-demand webinar, our tipsheet and webinar slides here.

Here are four things our panelists said about this high-impact climate solution that caught our attention: 

1. The cost to get there is nothing compared to what it will save us long-term.

We know the climate crisis demands action, and action costs money. It’s important to keep in mind, however, the cost of not acting.

Steven Burke mentioned the importance of this perspective when thinking about the initial cost of constructing Net Zero buildings: 

“If the premium to save our future is a 3% added cost on a building, we should be able to manage that.”

Read More

Our Team's Green Sparks

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Apr 22, 2021 9:47:28 AM

This whole planet-saving thing is our job...and our passion

This Earth Day at KLA, we’re not just celebrating a day-long commitment to protecting our planet, but a life-long one.  

KLA is unique. Every single one of our team members is in this line of work because we truly care. We’re a group of passionate people whose hearts are in the act of saving the planet — who better to help our local governments address climate change?

To inspire you and help you understand why we do the work that we do, we wanted to share some of our team members’ stories. We asked the KLA team to share their “green spark” — the thing that drove them to pursue a career in sustainability, whether it be a moment, place, idea or event.


Kim, CEO:

“You can track my two decades-long sustainability career back to a Scholastic News article about baby seals being clubbed in the Arctic, which prompted me to map out a plan to partner with polar bears to attack the poachers. Flash forward to today, and I am still driven by a passion to protect the planet for all living species by partnering with local governments to plan for and take action on climate change.”



Read More