The Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable convenes one Friday per month to discuss the region’s current environmental issues – from water to energy, urban planning to government policy and much more. Following the administration’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, last Friday’s Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable was a packed house.
Stephanie Stuckey, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, began moderating the roundtable discussion with a statement that resonated with many attendees in the room, touching on the topic at hand: “I want to say on this morning, the day after the United States pulled out of our commitments made at COP21 in Paris, that there’s no place I’d rather be than at SART, surrounded by people who are committed to moving forward with climate action.”
Dozens of cities are moving forward despite what is happening at the national level, and Atlanta was the first city from the South to announce its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.
Atlanta announced it plans to run its operations on 100 percent renewable energy sources by the year 2025, and make the entire city’s energy footprint powered by renewables by 2035. Dr. Charles Marshall, Director of Asset Management at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and Megan O’Neil, City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability Energy Program Manager, were on the panel and offered viable information on sustainability issues within the city that needs to be addressed and how Atlanta is going to move forward with efforts to achieve this plan.
Hartsfield-Jackson airport was highlighted as a success: a number of water retrofits have been made across the airport and throughout terminals, saving millions of gallons of water annually. Rainwater harvesting is just one of the techniques to be implemented into the Airport’s sustainable practices. Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations are another important component when discussing innovation, and Atlanta’s airport has installed 100 EV charging stations with a commitment to expand that number to 300. The City is in talks with Tesla and other EV companies about how to include this factor in the 100 percent renewable energy conversation.
Georgia Power’s energy mix is 38 percent coal, 24 percent nuclear and 36 percent clean energy. That leaves about two percent for renewable energy that is solar and hydro, so the city has to figure out, given that energy mix, how to get to 100 percent renewable by 2025.
“The timeliness of the issue generated extra interest in a large, diverse crowd, and I was surprised to see how many people wanted to learn more about the City’s renewable energy plan. It’s great that there are multiple ways of how people are coming at the situation,” says Robert Reed, Director of Community Sustainability Services at Southface.
Watch footage from Resilient Atlanta’s SART live stream to learn more about how Atlanta plans to accomplish this effort.