The city of Norcross earned the Gold certification from the Atlanta Regional Commission's Green Communities. The city's Sustainable Norcross Commission led the effort to make Norcross a green community.
Four cities in the Atlanta region are the latest jurisdictions to earn Green Communities certification for leadership in implementing policies and practices that contribute to efficient and sustainable use of resources in metro Atlanta. The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) presented certifications to local officials at its board meeting last month.
The city of Kennesaw earned Green Communities certification at the Bronze level. Three previously certified cities achieved certification at a higher level --The city of Norcross achieved Gold certification, and the cities of Dunwoody and Woodstock achieved Silver certification. All together, 16 jurisdictions have been certified since the program was created three years ago.
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 launched the Green Communities Program three years ago to foster greater environmental stewardship and to recognize local governments that invest in programs leading to a more sustainable region. ARC’s Green Communities program is the first program in the country that seeks to transform a region by promoting sustainability through a “green” certification program for local governments.
With commitment and support from the Sustainable Norcross Commission, the city continues to transform its practices across all departments, encouraging “think green” to become a mindset as well as standard procedure. Norcross requires new city-owned buildings to achieve LEED certification and has adopted policies addressing anti-idling and green fleets. Unique to Norcross is its closed loop processing of residential yard debris. Yard trimmings are collected and turned into compost, mulch and soil products, which are sold to the city, local businesses and residents. Norcross replaced decorative lighting downtown with LED lights and installed photocells for dusk to dawn operation. This action, along with use of LED lights for the city's Christmas tree, has saved 57,000 kWh, for a cost savings of $6,400 annually.
“A lot of people have worked very hard to qualify Norcross for this program,” explained volunteer Chairperson and Norcross resident Connie Weathers Weathers. “From local high school kids helping with recycling projects at our special events, to the mayor and council members helping clean out debris in local streams, making Norcross more green has definitely been a positive, community-building experience. We earned Silver Level last year, and were only 50 points shy of the Gold. Since then, the community ramped up things up even more, making it possible to bring home the Gold at last.”
Norcross’ parks master plan adopted in 2011 includes natural areas, open spaces and greenways that increase connectivity of greenspace. The city deconstructed three properties and salvaged items instead of taking debris to the landfill. The community was invited to a Salvage, Pickin' and Porch Party at which salvaged items were auctioned off. Those items that did not sell were donated, recycled or used to create artwork.
ARC created Green Communities to showcase the ways in which local governments are helping to transform the region by reducing their environmental footprint. The jurisdictions recognized this week are leading the way to a more sustainable region through their policies and best management practices.
“Dunwoody, Kennesaw, Norcross and Woodstock are setting an example for businesses and other organizations that are seeking to use resources wisely and efficiently,” said Tad Leithead, ARC chairman. “Sustainability – economic, social and environmental – is the foundation of our newly adopted Plan 2040, and we applaud the efforts of all of our certified Green Communities for their leadership in ushering in a more sustainable region.”