ARC Recognizes Four Cities for Their Sustainability Programs

ARC Media Release (follow-up to December 6 release)

(ATLANTA, December 7, 2011) Four cities in the Atlanta region are the latest jurisdictions to earn Green Communities certification for leadership in implementing policies and practices that contribute to efficient and sustainable use of resources in metro Atlanta. The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) presented certifications to local officials at its board meeting earlier today.

The city of Kennesaw earned Green Communities certification at the Bronze level. Three previously certified cities achieved certification at a higher level –The City of Norcross achieved Gold certification, and the cities of Dunwoody and Woodstock achieved Silver certification. All together, 16 jurisdictions have been certified since the program was created three years ago.

Cities and counties earn Green Communities certification by implementing practices and policies in 10 categories, ranging from energy efficiency and green building to transportation and water efficiency. ARC launched the Green Communities Program three years ago to foster greater environmental stewardship and to recognize local governments that invest in programs leading to a more sustainable region. ARC’s Green Communities program is the first program in the country that seeks to transform a region by promoting sustainability through a “green” certification program for local governments.

ARC created Green Communities to showcase the ways in which local governments are helping to transform the region by reducing their environmental footprint. The jurisdictions recognized this week are leading the way to a more sustainable region through their policies and best management practices.

“Dunwoody, Kennesaw, Norcross and Woodstock are setting an example for businesses and other organizations that are seeking to use resources wisely and efficiently,” said Tad Leithead, ARC chairman. “Sustainability – economic, social and environmental – is the foundation of our newly adopted Plan 2040, and we applaud the efforts of all of our certified Green Communities for their leadership in ushering in a more sustainable region.”

The following communities were certified:

City of Dunwoody

The City of Dunwoody earned Silver certification after being recognized as a Bronze Green Community in 2010. Since then, the city has completed energy audits on 20 percent of its buildings, with the remaining building audits to be completed within four years. Dunwoody adopted a parks and open space master plan and specifies best management practices for maintaining landscaping. These practices include integrated pest management and the use of drought-tolerate and native plants. The master transportation plan includes bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly policies. The city has stepped up its recycling efforts by hosting drop-off events for electronics and batteries.  In addition, all applicants for special events permits must submit a recycling plan with their application. Accomplishments for which Dunwoody was recognized in 2010 include a green fleet policy that gives preference to the purchase of alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles, the establishment of the Dunwoody Sustainability Commission which has developed a public awareness and education campaign on Dunwoody’s sustainability efforts through the use of brochures, business cards, stickers, T-shirts and social networking and the Safe Routes to Schools Program that improves the walking and biking environment around Dunwoody’s five elementary schools.

City of Kennesaw

The City of Kennesaw earned Bronze certification in 2011. Kennesaw requires all new city-owned buildings greater than 5,000 square feet to be LEED certified and offers expedited plan review and site inspection for developers building LEED-, EarthCraft- and Energy Star-certified projects in the city. To improve energy efficiency, the city completed energy audits on all city buildings and implemented recommended improvements in more than half of the buildings. Traffic signals now have new LED signal light inserts, which use substantially less power than conventional incandescent bulbs and have a longer effective life. The city purchased a vacant house and renovated it for use by the city’s parks and recreation department for youth and art classes. It is reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfills by providing curbside recycling to single-family residents and commercial customers for paper, glass, metal containers, plastic and corrugated cardboard. A commute options program for employees includes compressed work week scheduling, preferred parking for carpools, an employee recognition program and secure bicycle parking at government facilities. The City of Kennesaw works with the Cobb County School District to promote the Safe Routes to School Program to elementary and middle schools within the city limits. The city works with these schools to provide sidewalks and bike pathways to the schools and improve safety at intersections.

City of Norcross

The City of Norcross earned Gold certification after being recognized as a Silver Green Community in 2010. With commitment and support from the Sustainable Norcross Commission, the city is transforming its practices across all departments. Norcross requires new city-owned buildings to achieve LEED certification and has adopted policies addressing anti-idling and green fleets. Unique to Norcross is its closed loop processing of residential yard debris. Yard trimmings are collected and turned into compost, mulch and soil products, which are sold to the city, local businesses and residents.  Norcross replaced decorative lighting downtown with LED lights and installed photocells for dusk to dawn operation. This action, along with use of LED lights for the city’s Christmas tree, has saved 57,000 kWh, for a cost savings of $6,400 annually. The parks master plan adopted in 2011 includes natural areas, open spaces and greenways that increase connectivity of greenspace. The city deconstructed three properties and salvaged items instead of taking debris to the landfill. The community was invited to a Salvage, Pickin’ and Porch Party at which salvaged items were auctioned off. Those items that did not sell were donated, recycled or used to create artwork.

City of Woodstock

The City of Woodstock earned Silver certification after being recognized as a Bronze Green Community in 2010. Last year Woodstock was recognized for its Greenprints Project Master Plan, a comprehensive park, trail and open space initiative that establishes a foundation and framework for the creation of a citywide green infrastructure system. Residential and commercial green building is encouraged by offering reduced development review time and fees for projects that achieve LEED, EarthCraft, Energy Star or WaterSense for New Homes certification or include the installation of a renewable energy project that produces a minimum of 1 kWh. During 2011, the city completed energy audits on almost half its buildings, with the remaining audits to be completed within four years.  A 6.8kWh solar panel on the council chambers roof generates more than 11 percent of the power needed for the facility. Woodstock is also the first city in Georgia to install a municipally owned, free public charging station for electric vehicles.

Complete information about ARC’s Green Communities Certification Program, including the measures each community has implemented, is available on the agency’s website at www.atlantaregional.com/greencommunities.

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