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Suwanee Goes Green-er: Earns LEED Certification

13 July 2009 No Comment

The City of Suwanee’s new City Hall, opened in February, was designed to become the second public facility in Gwinnett County to earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. And the community of 16,500 is well-known regionally for its award-winning open space initiative and the new parks it created. But now the City is taking its commitment to going green to the next level.

Suwanee City Council adopted at its June 25 meeting several policies that should help the City earn certification through the Atlanta Regional Commission’s (ARC) Green Communities Program.

“We’re not attempting to re-tilt the world,” says Wes Rogers, Suwanee’s senior environmental planner. “In many ways, Suwanee is already a green city. We’re simply taking it to the next level and acknowledging that there are some things that we can do to use our environmental resources more efficiently. These new policies are meant to change the way that City employees think and encourage us to modify some of our daily behaviors.”

Established in 2008, the ARC Green Communities Program is designed to encourage local governments to reduce their environmental footprint through policies and practices and, in turn, encourage citizens and businesses to do the same. Several other metro communities, including Roswell, Dunwoody, and Norcross also are working toward certification.

The new sustainable-practices policies adopted by City Council include:

  • No Idling – When not in operation, City vehicles should be turned off (with exemptions for public safety purposes).
  • Green Fleet – When purchasing new vehicles, the City will make efforts to consider and purchase alternative energy, hybrid, or low-emission vehicles.
  • Lights Out/Power Down – Office equipment not in use should be turned off when employees leave their offices for extended periods, and equipment that is not used frequently should be unplugged.
  • Community Bicycle Facilities – Suwanee will provide bicycle racks at City-owned facilities, promoting bicycling as an alternate mode of transportation that helps to reduce traffic and emissions.
  • Environmental Preferable Purchasing – When purchasing products, the City will consider environmental impact as well as cost.

The new policies, notes Rogers, aren’t meant to be written in stone, but rather serve to encourage City staff – and residents – to be aware of how our decisions and actions have a real impact on the environment. An important component of Suwanee’s green community commitment will be to share information with citizens through the City website (www.suwanee.com) and educational materials.

The City of Suwanee hopes to attain Green Communities certification by later this year.

Says Rogers: “We’re working to make Suwanee, literally, a cooler place to live.”

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