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Though “sustainable” is the new “green,” the term itself means different things to different people. For the City of Atlanta, working to be more sustainable means reconciling the city’s developmental goals with its environmental limits over the long term. In order to do this, all city government operations are being filtered through the lens of ensuring that current levels of consumption can be maintained in perpetuity. Implementing Power to Change, the city's first sustainability plan, the Mayor's Office of Sustainability is working with all city departments and stakeholder groups to balance Atlanta’s economic growth with environmental protection while being mindful of social justice.

Energy Efficiency Commitment

The City of Atlanta has united with the metropolitan business and nonprofit community to implement a comprehensive energy upgrade for downtown buildings to meet the goal of improving energy performance a minimum of 20% by 2020. Working with the U.S. Department of Energy, the effort is already underway with a benchmarking initiative for Atlanta's 220-block downtown improvement district, including City Hall, the Civic Center, and other municipal facilities, as well as to eventually include landmark buildings in the downtown area. Going forward, project partners will work with banks, funds, energy service companies, and others to enable substantive retrofits of downtown university, healthcare, municipal, and commercial buildings. Enrolled buildings participating in substantive retrofits will initially exceed two million square feet, with broader participation expected in energy monitoring and action.

The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability is working with city leadership, across sectors, to encourage policy development and reform in select areas. Through collaboration with foundations, hospitals, universities, and other stakeholders, the office will develop education and training programs in key action areas both for city employees and the Atlanta community, and will work to communicate its progress by tracking its successes and sharing those with the greater Atlanta community. With the direction of Atlanta’s first sustainability plan, Power to Change, many aggressive conservation goals will be realized with the help of the Better Buildings Challenge. Power to Change seeks to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the City of Atlanta’s jurisdiction 25% by 2020, 40% by 2030, and 80% by 2050.
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle 30% of the city’s residential waste by 2013, 50% by 2015, and 90% by 2020.
  • Provide a minimum of ten acres of green space per 1,000 residents and protect and restore the city’s tree canopy to 40% coverage.
  • Reduce energy use for existing municipal operations 15% by 2020, 40% by 2030, and 80% by 2050. Make renewable energy five percent of total municipal use by 2015.
  • Bring local food within ten minutes of 75% of all residents by 2020.

Building Square Footage

Total Committed to Challenge
2 million square feet
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