Sustainable Shorewood

Sustainable Shorewood is a joint effort of village staff and volunteers to develop policies and programs that implement sustainability into the long-range planning and daily operations of the Village of Shorewood. It includes the efforts of the village's Conservation Committee in informing and engaging the public in sustainable practices.

Information about the progress of this plan and the village’s ongoing efforts relating to sustainability and conservation are available on this webpage.

About Sustainability

Sustainability has been defined in many ways; however, the most common is: “Using resources in ways that meet our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” - U.N. Brundtland Commission Report, 1987. Sustainability rests on 3 pillars: the environment, the economy, and social justice.

Sustainable Shorewood

Basically, that means we are able to meet the current needs of our natural and economic environment and all the people within it without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. In other words, a sustainable community connects people with the planet and prosperity.

On November 2, 2009, the Village of Shorewood Board of Trustees adopted an eco-municipality resolution that supported sustainability principles and identified The Natural Step as the preferred model for achieving greater sustainability in local government and the larger community. The Natural Step (or “TNS”) is a scientifically based, socially-just model with a proven track record. Many other Wisconsin communities are implementing the principles and methods of The Natural Step, affording us the opportunity to share strategies and successes with nearby, similar communities.

The Natural Step

The Natural Step model of sustainability was developed in Sweden in 1983 by a group of scientists led by Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt. His work led to the development of a framework of 4 system conditions and a 4-step planning process to systematically effect positive change. The successful efforts of city planner Torbjörn Lahti to apply these methods in Övertorneå, Sweden, marked the beginning of what became known as the “eco-municipality” movement.

The Natural Step’s system conditions define the framework through which village programs and practices can be reviewed and modified in order to become a more sustainable organization. The 4 system conditions are expressed here as defined by the American Planning Association’s Planning for Sustainability Policy Guide:

  1. Eliminate our community’s contribution to fossil fuel dependence and to wasteful use of scarce metals and minerals
  2. Eliminate our community’s contribution to dependence upon persistent chemicals and wasteful use of synthetic substances
  3. Eliminate our community’s contribution to encroachment upon nature (e.g., land, water, forests, soil, and ecosystems)
  4. Eliminate conditions that undermine the capacity for people to meet basic needs
Sustainability Diagram


An eco-municipality is defined as a city, village, town, county, or region that aspires to develop an ecologically, economically, and socially healthy community for the long term, using The Natural Step framework for sustainability as a guide, and a democratic, highly participative development and decision-making process as the method (from Toward a Sustainable Community: A Toolkit for Local Government).

This systems approach is critical to the village’s long-term success because the approach helps to raise awareness of sustainability, works to integrate the goals and actions across departments within the organization, and helps to develop a common language and shared understanding. This systems approach should reduce the likelihood of conflict and competition among individual actions and avoid duplication of efforts.