UPDATED: Decatur is First to Receive “Platinum” Sustainability Certification From ARC

UPDATE: The City of Decatur sent around a press release, which included this summary of actions taken by the city to receive the platinum certification…

After first achieving Green Communities certification at the Bronze level in 2009, and upgrading to the Gold level in 2010, the City of Decatur has renewed its certification at the Platinum level this year, the first local government to reach the highest achievement possible. Some of the actions Decatur took to become certified include:

  • Developing an Environmental Sustainability Plan as direct response to a charge from the people of the city seeking to become even more environmentally responsible. The plan outlines goals and strategies that the city and community should take to deepen their commitment to serving as good stewards of the environment and resources.

  • Expanding the Safe Routes to School program to include all eligible elementary and middle schools in the Decatur City Schools system along with College Heights Preschool and two private schools. An average of 55 percent of students participate in International Walk and Roll to School Day each year.

  • Committing to building LEED certified facilities, the latest of which, Fire Station No. 1, is on course to obtain LEED Platinum. Sustainable technologies include high efficiency equipment and lighting, green roof garden, a geothermal vertical-closed loop heat pump system, solar water heating, rainwater harvesting and greywater reclamation. The building is designed to achieve a 33 percent reduction in energy consumption and in water usage.

  • Supporting several community gardens with financial and in-kind support. At Decatur’s Kitchen Garden, more than 30 refugee families grow hundreds of pounds of fresh food each season, combating hunger that their families and neighbors face. The produce is also sold at the Decatur Farmers Market and a number of Decatur restaurants.

From the Atlanta Regional Commission’s website.  If you want to learn more about how local governments are graded in this certification process, click here.

Four counties and three cities received certification in ARC’s Green Communities program on January 28, 2015. The cities of Alpharetta, Decatur, and Sandy Springs and the counties of Cherokee, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett were recognized for their efforts in 2014 to forge new paths on the road to a more sustainable region. They are the most recent communities to demonstrate new levels of commitment to environmental stewardship or receive recertification for their leadership in implementing policies and practices that contribute to the efficient and sustainable use of resources in metro Atlanta.

Several firsts were achieved among the participants this year:

  • City of Decatur is the first local government to reach Platinum certification – the highest level;
  • Gwinnett County is the first county to reach Gold certification;
  • City of Sandy Springs is certifying for the first time at the Bronze level.

Commenting on the certification presentation at ARC’s January Board meeting, ARC Chairman Kerry Armstrong said, “The seven local governments the Atlanta Regional Commission recognized today are working hard to use resources wisely and well, and I commend them for their achievements. Their efforts are contributing to cleaner air, reduced water demand, less waste going into landfills and a reduction in energy use. As a result, we have a cleaner, greener region.”

Here are the 2014 communities that received certification points for having  programs and policies that reduce their environmental impact:

  • City of Alpharetta – Recertified Gold
  • Cherokee County – Recertified Bronze
  • City of Decatur – Recertified, upgraded to Platinum
  • DeKalb County – Upgraded to Silver
  • Fulton County – Recertified Bronze
  • Gwinnett County – Upgraded to Gold
  • City of Sandy Springs – Certified Bronze

Over the past five years, policies enacted by these seven local governments have had the following cumulative impact:

  • 155 million kWh of green power generated
  • 2,475 additional acres of protected greenspace
  • 32 community gardens cultivated
  • 910 tons of Household Hazardous Waste collected
  • $1,320,000 in energy savings
  • 49 million gallons of water saved or reused

ARC developed the Green Communities Program in 2009 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.

Since 2009, 18 jurisdictions in the 10-county region have been certified. 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.

More information about ARC’s Green Communities Certification Program, including the measures each community has implemented to achieve certification, is available at www.atlantaregional.com/greencommunities.