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Metro Atlanta Communities Recognized for Sustainability Programs | Environment

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Metro Atlanta Communities Recognized for Sustainability Programs
Metro Atlanta Communities Recognized for Sustainability Programs

ATLANTA -- Several cities and counties in the Metro Atlanta area are among the latest jurisdictions to earn Green Communities certification for leadership in reducing their environmental impact.

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) presented certifications to local officials at the Wednesday, Dec. 1 board meeting.

The city of Alpharetta became one of the first communities in the region to attain Gold certification for its sustainability initiatives. Cherokee County, Fulton County and the cities of Dunwoody and Woodstock all received bronze certification.

Green Communities certification is earned by implementing policies and practices in 10 categories, ranging in energy efficiency and green building to transportation and water efficiency. ARC launched the Green Communities Program two years ago to foster greater environmental stewardship and to recognize local governments that invest in programs leading to a more sustainable region.

The Green Communities Program is the only program in the country that seeks to transform a region by promoting sustainability through a "green" certification program for local governments.

"There is a growing commitment among local governments in the Atlanta region to reduce their environmental footprint, and we congratulate the elected officials and staff of these . . . jurisdictions," said Tad Leithead, ARC chairman. "Their leadership is leading the way to a more sustainable region."

The City of Alpharetta earned Gold certification after being recognized as a Bronze Green Community in July of 2009. The city's sustainability initiatives are implemented through the Alpharetta Green City Program, established by the city council.

LEED or EnergyStar certification for all new local government buildings, a green fleet policy and green purchasing are among the policies Alpharetta has adopted. The city has completed water and energy audits on more than half of its buildings, with the other half expected to be completed by 2014.

Rock Mill Park (3100 Kimball Bridge Road, Alpharetta, 30022) demonstrates stormwater best management practices. The city has a number of demonstration projects, including a green roof at Rock Mill Park, a solar panel array at Wills Park (11925 Wills Road, Alpharetta, 30009), a cool roof at City Hall and rainwater capture and reuse at Webb Bridge Park (4780 Webb Bridge Road, Alpharetta, 30005) and other buildings.

Other measures include community incentives for green building and WaterSense homes, a commercial recycling requirement, installation of LED bulbs in all traffic signals and a no-idling policy for government vehicles.

Cherokee County's new procurement ordinance incorporates many sustainable policies, including LEED certification for county-owned buildings, the purchase of EnergyStar-related appliances and equipment, the use of LED bulbs in traffic signals and the installation of WaterSense-certified plumbing fixtures.

Cherokee has committed to preserve 20% of county land as permanent greenspace through the Community Greenspace Program and has allocated $10 million for greenspace allocation.

Residents can recycle cell phones and other electronics at semi-annual drop-off events. More than 70% of county facilities have received energy and water audits, resulting in HVAC and lighting upgrades, installation of cool roofs, discontinuation of irrigation and replacement of inefficient plumbing fixtures. Expedited permitting reviews and reduced fees encourage builders to use solar energy in new projects or achieve LEED, EnergyStar or EarthCraft certification.

Synchronized traffic corridors in Cherokee County ease congestion and reduce idling time.

The City of Dunwoody encourages green building by offering expedited permitting reviews for projects that achieve LEED, EnergyStar, EarthCraft or WaterSense for New Homes certification or include the installation of solar projects or pervious paving materials.

Purchasing policies give preference to environmentally-friendly goods and services. The green fleet policy gives preference to the purchase of alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles.

The Dunwoody Sustainability Commission, established in 2008, 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.

The Safe Routes to School Program improves the walking and biking environment around Dunwoody's five elementary schools and has increased the number of students who bike and walk to school.

Energy and water audits have been completed on more than 40% of the facilities in Fulton County, with the remaining facilities to be completed in the next four years. More than 300 exit signs have been replaced with LED fixtures, saving an estimated 92,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

The Johns Creek Environmental Campus uses the most advanced wastewater treatment technologies and is a world-class example of the process. It emits no odor or noise and blends seamlessly with the surrounding greenspace and neighborhoods.

Other sustainable policies adopted by Fulton County include a requirement for new plumbing fixtures to be WaterSense-certified, a lights out/power down policy and an anti-idling policy.

The City of Woodstock's Greenprints Project Master Plan is a comprehensive park, trail and open space initiative that establishes a foundation and framework for the creation of a citywide green infrastructure system. It calls for more than 60 miles of trails, connecting greenspace, neighborhoods and activity centers throughout the city.

Woodstock is testing the use of LED light bulbs in its elevators and estimates that the replacement of only 12 traditional incandescent bulbs will save $1,000 a year in energy and maintenance costs.

All new city buildings will achieve LEED certification. Residential and commercial green building is encouraged by offering reduced development review time and fees for projects that achieve LEED, EarthCraft, EnergyStar or WaterSense for New Homes certification or include the installation of a renewable energy project that produces a minimum of one kilowatt-hour.

The Downtown Woodstock LCI Plan encourages smart growth through pedestrian-oriented and mixed-use development and redevelopment of the downtown area. The city uses rainwater for irrigation at the Woodstock Community Center and has adopted an anti-idling policy.


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