by Max Brantley
Mayor Mark Stodola has sent a newsletter touting his record at making Little Rock a "sustainable," or more environmentally sound, city.
“A More Sustainable City”
Four years ago when I took office, recognizing the importance of reducing the City’s carbon footprint, one of my first acts was to sign the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement with the goal of substantially reducing carbon emissions in our city. Today, I had the great pleasure of receiving an award from Entergy Arkansas in recognition of the cities’ efforts to be more energy efficient. We received a check for $17,886 as part of Entergy’s City Smart program for upgrading the energy efficiency of lighting and air conditioning units in several of our City buildings. By installing high efficiency air conditioning equipment and LED lighting, nearly 269,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity will be saved per year. This is the equivalent of preventing the carbon dioxide emissions of more than 21,730 gallons of gasoline, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Several other initiatives have been undertaken over the last four years and I’d like to take this opportunity to outline some of the other things the City of Little Rock has done to save energy and reduce energy costs so Little Rock can become a more “sustainable city:
* In 2009, we established the Mayors’ Sustainability Commission, which has created a Sustainable Purchasing Policy, organized two Sustainability Summits and is working to establish more farmers’ markets in the city.
* Used federal grant funds to purchase $40,000 in energy efficient CFL light bulbs that were distributed to the city’s residents and schools. The City worked with our public schools and science teachers so that every student in grades 5 through 12 received a CFL light bulb and important energy-saving household tips to take home and share with their families.
* The City embarked on a $100,000 advertising campaign to promote increased residential recycling. The City’s residential recycling participation has increased to approximately 38%.
* The City invested $246,000 for new bike lanes in the City.
* Created a more pedestrian-friendly community by installing more than 13,000 linear feet of sidewalks. This is nearly 2.5 miles of new sidewalk.
* We facilitated and contributed financially to the current construction of the Clinton Bridge that will serve as Arkansas River Trail’s eastern link and improve the pedestrian access in our city.
* Received a grant to turn elephant waste into compost at the Little Rock Zoo.
* We formed a City “Green Team” that is made up of employees from each City department who look for new innovative ways to make the city’s operations more sustainable.
* The Mayor’s Commission on Tourism partnered with local nurseries to plant gardens near the Big Dam Bridge, which beautify the city park, while encouraging outdoor activities.
* The City has initiated a green-building initiative through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to give developers an incentive of $1,500 to cover the cost of energy efficient certifications.
* We helped local business redevelop a derelict building on Main Street into retail uses and apartment housing using sustainable building practices.
* The City supported a local developer leverage a federal grant program to purchase many blighted properties throughout the city and turn 30 of these eyesores into Energy Star-rated affordable in-fill residential properties.
* We partnered with the University of Arkansas and Downtown Little Rock Community Development Commission build new energy-efficient modular homes in the downtown area.These are just a few examples of how the City of Little Rock is working to be more energy efficient and sustainable. I am proud of the work we are doing and hope the City of Little Rock and our partners can continue to build on our successes. Please send me your suggestions and ideas on how to further make our City more sustainable.
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