Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's not easy "Bein' Green" but City of Dunwoody reaches Gold Certification by ARC for environmental friendly policies.

Dunwoody leading the Way to Sustainability

In 2013, the City of Dunwoody achieved Gold level certification under the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Green Communities Program, a level higher than its Silver certification in 2011. The following measures have been implemented by the City of Dunwoody to reduce its environmental impact and promote sustainability. These measures received points for certification.

»» Requires new city-owned buildings greater than 5,000 square feet or with total project costs greater than $1 million to achieve LEED certification, with a goal of achieving silver certification.

»» Requires new city-owned buildings less than 5,000 square feet or less than $1 million in total project costs to attempt LEED certification, but at a minimum achieve either EnergyStar or Earth Craft Light Commercial certification.

»» Requires renovations to achieve LEED for Existing Buildings certification whenever possible, but at a minimum achieve Energy Star or EarthCraft Light Commercial certification.

»» Encourages residential and commercial buildings to be built green by offering expedited permitting reviews for projects that achieve LEED, EnergyStar or EarthCraft certification.

»» Completed energy audits on 20 percent of the city’s buildings with the remaining buildings to be
completed within four years.

»» Energy Star purchasing policy to purchase energy-efficient equipment and appliances.

»» Installed LED bulbs in more than 60 percent of existing traffic signals and will replace the remaining lights with LED bulbs over the next two years.

»» Adopted a lights out/power down policy for all city employees and facilities to ensure all nonemergency building lighting and electronic equipment are turned off when not in use and at the end of the work day.

»» Replaced all light bulbs in desk lamps used in the Community Development department with LED bulbs. Additionally, exit light signs are being converted to LED as buildings undergo energy audits.

»» Active inspection program for residential and commercial compliance with the Georgia energy codes.

»» Night sky ordinance to limit the use of excess lighting that unnecessarily wastes energy and degrades the nighttime visual environment.

»» Encourages the installation of solar projects by offering expedited plan reviews for builders that
incorporate solar energy elements, including photovoltaic or solar water heaters, into their projects.

»» Requires all new city-owned buildings to install high-efficiency plumbing fixtures such as WaterSense® certified toilets, urinals and faucets.

»» Completed audit with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and is in compliance with the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District’s Water Supply and Water Conservation
Management Plan, Wastewater Management Plan and Watershed Management Plan.

»» Offers expedited plan reviews for projects that achieve WaterSense® for new homes certification.

»» No net loss of trees policy for all city owned property.

»» Adopted the Parks and Open Space Master Plan in March 2011.

»» Adopted landscaping maintenance specifications for integrated pest management and the use of drought-tolerant and native landscape plantings.

»» Designated as a Tree City USA Community since 2012. To maintain this designation, the City of Dunwoody has a Tree Commission, a community tree ordinance, a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita and an annual Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

»» Encourages 50 percent shade coverage of parking lots through landscape development standards that require a minimum of one canopy tree for every eight parking spaces and a minimum of 200 square feet of contiguous soil space per overstory tree.

»» Completed a Tree Inventory and Assessment as part of its 2009 Comprehensive Land Use Planning process, which will allow the city to ensure the proper management and long-term survivability of its tree canopy.

»» Donated space at Brook Run Park for the Dunwoody Community Garden. Residents can lease one of 60 plots for $50 a year. Volunteers maintain 20 percent of the beds and donate the cultivated produce to charity.

»» Provides the publicity assistance for the Dunwoody Green Market that is held Wednesday mornings 8 am – noon from May through November.

»» Green fleet policy that gives a preference for purchasing alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles for nonemergency fleet vehicles and lower emission emergency fleet vehicles.

»» Adopted a no idling policy for city vehicles to prevent non-emergency city vehicles from idling longer than 30 seconds. Diesel vehicles must limit their warm-up period to three to five minutes.

»» Adopted a complete streets policy to ensure that streets will be safe for all users of the public right-ofway, including motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, freight providers, people with disabilities, emergency responders and adjacent land users.

»» Worked with the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts to fund and implement the Perimeter Traffic Operations Program (PTOP), which includes the optimization and maintenance of 99 traffic signals throughout the PCIDs. Average vehicular delay has been reduced on the corridors by 29 percent. Motorists using the corridors during the three peak periods save 233,680 hours of travel time and 160,290 gallons of gasoline each year. The total annual savings to motorists due to improved signal timing plans is $3,926,070 or, expressed in another way, the new timing plans pay for themselves approximately every 3.9 workdays.

»» All five elementary schools in the city actively participate in the city’s Safe Routes to School program. The city conducted walking audits at half of the schools, identified long-term and short-term infrastructure needs based on these audits and completed several of these projects to improve the walking and biking environment around the schools.

»» Adopted a Master Transportation Plan that includes bicycle and pedestrian friendly policies.

»» Shared parking is encouraged in the Dunwoody Village Overlay District to meet parking requirements.

»» Adopted an environmentally preferable purchasing policy to purchase environmentally friendly goods.  Additionally, the city plans to evaluate the environmental performance of vendors in providing goods and services by assessing vendor’s raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, disposal of products or service delivery. The city replaces disposable products with products that are re-usable, recyclable or compostable, wherever practicable.

»» Offers recycling of paper, cardboard, plastics, metal and glass for city staff and visitors. Desk side bins are provided for employees, and centralized drop offs are located in break rooms, the mail room and the City Council Chambers. Continued education through signs and emails keeps staff informed of proper disposal and accepted materials.

»» Copier toner, ink cartridges and rechargeable batteries are collected at City Hall for recycling through a private vendor.

»» Purchases paper with at least 30 percent recycled content for copy, computer and fax paper.

»» Single stream curbside recycling is available to all city residents and includes the recycling of paper, cardboard, metal containers, polystyrene cups, all plastics and all glass.

»» Recycling is available to commercial facilities with five day a week pick up and includes recycling of paper, cardboard, metal containers, plastics and glass.

»» Offers drop-off events for residents to recycle electronics, cell phones and batteries.

»» Hosts an annual Household Hazardous Waste collection event for citizens, accepting a comprehensive list of household hazardous waste, including adhesives, lawn care products, automotive products, paints and cleaners.

»» Residential curbside collection of yard debris is available for all residents. The yard debris is processed at the DeKalb County Yard Waste Composting Facility into high-grade mulch, compost and soil products and is then made available to DeKalb County residents free of charge.

»» Acquired the long-vacant Brook Run Hospital facilities and renovated the greyfield property into Brook Run Park. The hospital’s greenhouse and maintenance barn were rehabilitated by the city and are now used for educational programing and community gardening.

»» Provides a variety of Smart Growth Incentives, such as the Planned Development District, Pedestrian Community District, and three Livable Community Initiatives (Dunwoody Village LCI, Georgetown- North Shallowford LCI, and Perimeter Center LCI.)

»» Educates city staff on environmental sustainability efforts through bi-monthly staff meetings, the city intranet, e-mail blasts, lunch-n-learns and a variety of educational posters, fliers and announcements.

»» The City of Dunwoody Sustainability Commission has developed a public awareness and education campaign on the city’s sustainability efforts. The Commission developed a logo and uses it in outreach efforts for informing citizens such as brochures, business cards, stickers, t-shirts and a social networking website. More information on the Commission is available at

»» The city’s “Punch Up the Green” promotion encouraged citizens to engage in sustainable actions by offering discounts at local businesses for residents who completed six “Green Actions.” The “Green Actions” included walking instead of driving, changing an incandescent light bulb to a CFL, riding a bicycle instead of driving, recycling, turning off the car instead of idling and choosing a sustainable action of their own.

»» Through its Green Building Policy, the city encourages the use of pervious paving materials by offering expedited plan review. Pervious paving materials, including gravel, crushed stone, open paving blocks, porous asphalt or concrete pavement or pervious paving blocks are encouraged for use in driveways, parking areas, walkways and patios to minimize runoff from these areas and increase water infiltration.

»» Requires all applicants for special event permits to submit a recycling plan as part of the permit
application. The plan must demonstrate where recycling receptacles will be located and the vendors who will collect recyclables. An estimated 450 gallons of recyclables were diverted from the landfill at the 2011 Dunwoody Music Festival as a result of this permit requirement.


Pattie Baker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Heneghan said...

Thanks Pattie, "Green Washing" shouldn't be happening and in order to make it known what we are doing to be green; I purposely published the complete list.

I believe it is the will of Council to stay the course on these green initiatives, including Complete Streets. I have posted the full link to your mentioned post below.

Thanks for all you do.


Pattie Baker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Connie Morelle said...

Thank you, John, for publishing this list of accomplishments. And sincere thanks to you, Pattie Baker, for reaching out to me five years ago with an invitation to be a part of the Sustainability Committee. First Bronze, then Silver, and now...Gold. Consistent progress through teamwork, community, and commitment!

Pattie Baker said...

Connie: Thanks to you and all the others on the Sustainability Commission who took the leadership baton and ran with it after I moved on to volunteer at gardens, etc. I am blown away by the level of expertise and volunteer professional resources that exist on that committee today and hope that our mayor and city council fully recognize the potential contributions of these professionals as we move into our next phase as a city.

One of the most important things I think citizens can offer is examples of best practices from elsewhere, and our city leaders can then make its own best decisions that meet our city's defined needs, measurable goals, and city-specific path and pace on what, to me, is a fun journey.

It could be as simple as noticing desirable attributes when they travel, or as formal as studying policies and practices from elsewhere.

For instance, when the city was being launched, I shared with the mayor and chief sustainability advocates on city council that something like nine states, 40 cities, 15 counties, and 118 school districts had sweatfree policies regarding uniforms (see the City of Seattle's announcement in 2010 here: If we were buying uniforms anyway, why not do some good? Our young city was not ready for that, but at the risk of being laughed at, I still thought it was important for us to know as many of our options as we can and then make informed decisions that aligned with our city's specific path and pace.

Increasingly, the impacts of our decisions are measurable. I like numbers. I like quantitative results. That's why I like these numbers released from ARC and featured on the Dunwoody Patch this morning that show the collective impact seven metro-ATL municipalities (including Dunwoody) have made in the last five years:

The following communities received certification points for their programs and policies to reduce their environmental impact:

City of Atlanta, Re-certified, upgraded to Silver

Cobb County, Re-certified Silver

DeKalb County, Re-certified Bronze

Douglas County, Re-certified Bronze

City of Dunwoody, Upgraded to Gold

City of Roswell, Re-certified, upgraded to Gold

City of Suwanee, Re-certified Bronze

Since 2009, these seven local governments have had the following cumulative impact:

159 million kWh of green power produced

1062 additional acres of protected greenspace

30 community gardens cultivated

1,000,222 tons of household hazardous waste collected

$1,114,000 in energy savings

713 million gallons of water reused

All the best to you and to all in Dunwoody. If I can help with some best-practices research along the way, I am happy to do so.