Two cities in the Atlanta region – Douglasville and Milton – 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. Two previously certified jurisdictions – the city of Kennesaw and Gwinnett County – achieved certification at a higher level this year. The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) presented these certifications to local officials at its board meeting earlier Wednesday.
The cities of Milton and Douglasville are now recognized as Bronze level Green Communities. Gwinnett County and the city of Kennesaw, previously bronze level Green Communities, have achieved Silver certification. All together, 18 jurisdictions have been certified since the program was created four years ago.
“Gwinnett County and the cities of Douglasville, Kennesaw and Milton 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 ARC’s Plan 2040, and we applaud the efforts of all of our certified Green Communities for their leadership in ushering in a more sustainable region.”
ARC developed the Green Communities Program to foster greater environmental stewardship and to recognize local governments that invest in programs leading to a more sustainable region. The nationally recognized program showcases the ways in which local governments are helping to transform the region by reducing their environmental footprint.
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’s Green Communities program was the first program in the country seeking to transform a region by promoting sustainability through a “green” certification program for local governments.
The communities received certification points for the following policies and program:
Gwinnett County – Silver Certification
The Gwinnett County earned Silver certification after being recognized as a Bronze Green Community in 2010. Through a U. S. Department of Energy grant, Gwinnett built a 2.1 MW generator at the F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center to utilize natural gas produced by the anaerobic digestion of solids produced by the wastewater treatment process. In a second phase, the county installed a Fats Oils Grease/High Strength Waste (FOG/HSW) collection facility to increase gas production, maximize engine use and generate additional power. The county provides CNG refueling station at the Gwinnett County Transit facility for 28 Gwinnett County Transit buses and about half of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority express fleet. In 2011, these buses used 496,437 gas gallon equivalents of fuel at a cost of only $403,788. By using this natural gas alternative, Gwinnett County saved nearly 500,000 gallons of diesel fuel. More than 500 of Gwinnett’s 656 traffic signals have been retrofitted with LED signals; the rest will be upgraded by the end of 2012. The upgrades use substantially less power than conventional incandescent bulbs and have a longer effective life.
City of Kennesaw – Silver Certification
Kennesaw earned Silver certification after being recognized as a Bronze Green Community in 2011. “Gather ‘n’ Grow” plots at Kennesaw’s Smith-Gilbert Garden are available for residents to cultivate as part of the garden’s 10-week veggie plot class series, an educational program about sustainable and responsible vegetable gardening. The city also supports the work of the Historic Kennesaw Community Garden, which in its first year of operation has sold out of its plots. The city adopted a complete streets policy to assure that roadway projects accommodate all users of the transportation systems, including pedestrians, bicyclists, users of mass transit, people with disabilities, the elderly, motorists, freight providers, emergency responders and adjacent land users. Kennesaw’s Adopt-A-Street Program allows an organization or group to adopt a segment of a city street. The city supplies the necessary refuse bags, safety vests and signage, and collects the trash bags once the pick-up is complete. As an official adopter of the 2000 Cobb County Greenspace Plan, the city has a goal of 20 percent of city land to be permanently protected greenspace and is providing connectivity between the parks and greenspace.
City of Douglasville – Bronze Certification
Douglasville’s Main Street Program has partnered with local growers and artisans to establish the Main Street Farmer’s Market. The Public Safety and Municipal Court Complex achieved LEED Silver certification. The city requires all new city-owned buildings to install high-efficiency plumbing fixtures. Douglasville has gone paperless for City Council meetings and agenda materials. Going electronically has saved the equivalent of 25 trees each year and reduced the use of other natural resources used to produce paper, such as water and energy. Single-stream recycling is offered to businesses and restaurants within the historic downtown district of the city. Several local government facilities are located at previous greyfield sites. For example Douglasville renovated an old seed factory into a successful conference center, and City Hall is located in a building that was once a movie theater.
City of Milton – Bronze Certification
Milton implemented the first joint Form-Based Code and Transfer of Development Rights Ordinance in the State of Georgia, which will help create the planned development of a village center in historic Crabapple, while protecting farm land and open space in other parts of the city. The city conducted a Tree Inventory, Assessment and Management Plan as a first step towards pursuing a maintenance program for sustaining Milton’s lush community forests. The city purchases paper with at least 30 percent recycled content for copy, computer and fax paper. Rain barrels at Providence Fire Station #41, Thompson Fire Station #42 and Birmingham Fire Station #43 capture water for the stations’ landscaping. The city’s no idling policy bars city vehicles from idling for more than 30 seconds, unless in traffic or on routine stops. Energy audits have been completed on 75 percent of the city’s buildings and improvements are underway.
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.