The Honorable Mayor Kasim Reed is the recipient of the 2014 Argon Award for leadership in sustainability for his efforts to bring Atlanta to the forefront of the national sustainability conversation. The Argon Award is presented annually by Southface to recognize leadership in advancing sustainability in our region. Each Argon Award winner is selected by a knowledgeable panel of sustainability experts whose goal is to identify individuals and organizations who seek innovative solutions to environmental challenges. The inaugural Argon Award was presented to Ray C. Anderson, Chairman and CEO of Interface, Inc., in 2000.
This year’s award was presented on October 1, 2014 during the annual Visionary Dinner, a gala event that brings together over 400 business and sustainability professionals to raise awareness and funding for Southface’s continued work in sustainable community development, high-performance affordable housing, green jobs training, clean energy and green building.
Under Mayor Reed’s leadership, Atlanta, which is ranked among the top ten U.S.cities with the highest percentage of green commercial real estate, has attracted national attention for its achievements in sustainability. This attention garnered Atlanta the distinction of being selected as a pilot for the national Better Buildings Challenge, a presidential initiative that challenges cities to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020. “Mayor Reed has demonstrated consistent dedication to sustainability through many initiatives,” said Southface Executive Director, Dennis Creech. “He has raised the bar by further challenging Atlanta commercial property owners to reduce water consumption by 20 percent by 2020 as part of the Better Buildings Challenge.” To date, the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge has enlisted more than 70 million square feet of commercial office space, second only to Washington, DC.
Other notable accomplishments under the Mayor’s leadership include support for the Atlanta Streetcar, expanding transportation options at the city’s core, and continued support for the most transformative urban redevelopment project in the U.S., the Atlanta BeltLine. He also helped pass the first potable rainwater ordinance for a major city. The City has made a remarkable investment in green infrastructure in Peoplestown, Mechanicsville and Historic Fourth Ward. The Mayor’s support for PACE financing, an innovative way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to buildings, has the potential to create 2,800 new jobs, generate $480 million in economic activity and achieve tremendous reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.
Lastly, and perhaps the most over-arching achievement from the Mayor’s office, is the Power to Change plan. Power to Change connects stakeholders across Atlanta, creating a framework to measure sustainability action around ten impact areas. In this way, Atlanta is joining other leading cities in documenting our achievements in the march toward sustainability.
“The City of Atlanta not only is going to be a sustainable city; we’re going to be a city that is a part of the circular economy, and moves from simply throwing things away to reusing every single aspect of everything we do, because that’s the way the world is going.” said the Mayor. “We are going to send a signal that Atlanta leads.”