The Transylvania Times -

Jim Hardy: Going Green Will Save City Money -Brevard NC

 

July 12, 2018



Local resident Jim Hardy has a few ideas that he believes could help the City of Brevard “go green” and save some money.

Hardy is an active member of the local chapter of the Sierra Club, and he presented his suggestions to the Brevard City Council during its May 21 regular meeting. He believes the city seems amenable to his suggestions.

Hardy has made some connections to help, such as Bill Eaker at the Land of Sky Regional Council, who is in charge of the clean cities and clean vehicles initiative. His job is to coordinate various air and energy management projects throughout Western North Carolina.

Hardy would like to see a few simple things throughout the city, such as recycling bins throughout downtown Brevard, to maybe convert some of the city vehicles to run on natural gas or other alternative fuels and to replace lighting throughout town with energy efficient LED bulbs.

He said City Planner Daniel Cobb and City Manager Jim Fatland both seem on board with the Sierra Club’s proposal, and he stressed that these initiatives could save the city a good bit of money.

“Along with some supporting material information, Sierra Club came to the city with some suggestions about how they could reduce its carbon footprint and save money at the same time,” said Hardy. “Look at what Asheville, Waynesville, Hendersonville, to name a few, have done. They have all introduced alternative fuels for their vehicles, and there are a number of resources and grant money that will pay for much of this. One of them, specifically, is the Volkswagen settlement, and Duke Energy has a large settlement also.”

Duke Energy has a $25 million settlement it has reached with the state of North Carolina for the pollution of ground water from its coal ash ponds, which have leaked for years.

Hardy said a lot of that money will go toward funding green initiatives across the state, and the local Sierra Club would like to see some of that money spent in Brevard.

Funds from the Volkswagen settlement, a $2.9 billion settlement from the recent emissions scandal, will invest $92 million in North Carolina over the next 10 years to reduce the pollution impacts from diesel fume emissions.

Funds will be used to support environmental mitigation, as well as investment to promote the use of zero emission vehicles and infrastructure.

Hardy said that, bottom line, there is an incredible number of resources that can help the city go green and save money.

One of them is the Waste Reduction Partners (WRP), a North Carolina-based environmental group, which has done an enormous amount of work through the mountain region in terms of streamlining sustainability efforts.

The WRP has helped local businesses like Haywood Vocational Opportunities in Waynes-ville to reduce a quarter of their waste stream by finding recycling options for some of their products.

The group helped keep these byproducts out of the landfill and did the same for an Arden-based man-ufacturer, Survival Innovations, makers of human protection equip-ment for the military. The company found a buyer for the excess nylon and elastic strapping used in their equipment, located just right down the road from them.

WRP has also worked with the Asheville City school system to reduce waste in its school lunch programs.

WRP proposed food composting, and in 2012 the school system started composting in all five city elementary schools.

Cafeteria waste, which according to their website is the highest percentage of any school waste stream, has fallen by 80 percent on average and has saved roughly 225,000 pounds of food from going to the landfill and being diverted into compost.

WRP has done somewhat the same with Rutherford County schools but with recycling. The county has gradually increased the amount of recycling in its school system to 250,000 pounds a year, saving the school system $8,400 a year in its solid waste pickup costs.

“At the top of the list right now is the charging stations,” Hardy said. “The city has identified three lots where this could happen, and Daniel (Cobb) has identified three locations where they could go. I think the city, from the reaction I got at the council meeting, would like to pursue that. There looks like there may be money available to do this, so they would not have to make much of an investment at all.”

Hardy said that the experience of communities around the country and the world is demonstrating that municipalities can reduce their carbon footprint and reap huge benefits economically.

“Sometimes, there is an investment in this, but the payback is often very short,” he said. “What the Sierra Club is promoting, there is a program to do the same kind of things that Asheville has done to become a clean city. The benefits of doing that are both economic and environmental: the air is pure, the water is cleaner and the governments are saving money doing these things. I think people need to know this is an opportunity for the City of Brevard, which means using less energy to save a good deal of money and that Asheville and Buncombe County and Waynesville are all doing this.”

Hardy said the next step is drumming up support for these projects.

Hardy said he recently spoke with Fletcher Town Manager Mark Biberdorf and said that after Fletcher spent $10,000 on replacing street lights with LEDs, the town is now saving $5,000 a year. It took the town two years to pay off that investment.

He also mentioned Amber Weaver, the director of Asheville’s Office of Sustainability, whose salary and her entire staff are paid for by the city savings from energy saving programs in the city of Asheville.

Weaver said that Asheville has an 80 percent carbon reduction goal, and the city’s sustainability advisory committee is working on a 100 percent renewable resolution for both municipal and community operations.

“In 2009, we hired a consultant to form a sustainability management program and go through the different city departments and work through and address our carbon reduction goal, which is for our municipal operations,” Weaver said. “It includes everything from energy and electricity and fuel, and then from there we have been able to make a solid waste goal. That’s how a lot of the composting gets started. The recycling bins downtown and things that Mr. Hardy has referenced — those are some of the ways that we have met our waste reduction goal. We also have a food policy action plan. We work with city council to help foster urban agriculture and make sure our ordinances aren’t so stringent in a way that landowners can’t grow food on their own property.”

Weaver said the purpose of all of this is to address climate resilience, to reduce carbon and help lower the Earth’s rising temperature.

 
 

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