Filed under: Finance

Asheville Fire stations take up Energy Challenge

helmet-idea-bulbThis spring, the City of Asheville Fire Department took up a nation-wide challenge to see which of its three battalions, throughout the department’s 12 stations, could make the biggest reduction in energy use over a three-month period. With the results tallied in June, the winner is Battalion 2 with a total energy reduction of 12% over last year’s numbers at Stations 2, 3, 6 and 10. But the big winner was the department as a whole and the City of Asheville, as the friendly competition offset 24 tons of greenhouse gasses and saved the AFD $2000 in energy costs.

The Chief’s Energy Challenge is a nationwide effort issued by the fire departments of Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh inviting fire departments to reduce their energy use by 10% in one year, and 20% by year three.

“The results produced by these battalions is a testimony to the innovative and cost effective ways we can reduce our environmental impact and still maintain a high level of service to the safety of the public,” said AFD Chief Scott Burnette.

The AFD’s participation was a collaboration with the Office of Sustainability, and during the challenge, the Sustainability team worked directly with the department to find ways to cut energy use and costs. Many of those, says Energy Analyst Kerby Smithson, can be used going forward in an effort to beat the one-year 10% goal.

“From LED lights to low-flow shower heads, the steps these firefighters took and the ideas they had were practical and resourceful,” Smithson said. “And it’s really a testament to how we all can affect change by making small changes in our habits, like turning off lights and appliances.”

“We’re happy to be able to move forward with these steps,” said Lt. Angie Bell at Station 10. “It is an eye opener to see how these things add up to a real impact in savings.”

The results of the Chief’s Energy Challenge were recorded by the Office of Sustainability and reported to the Chief’s Energy Challenge North Carolina organizers.

Leave a Comment August 6, 2014

LED light installation continues on major corridors

In 2011, the City of Asheville began a project to replace all streetlights with LED lighting, saving money and energy and helping achieve Asheville City Council’s goals for reducing Asheville’s municipal footprint. The Office of Sustainability has announced that the next phase of streetlight replacement is underway, focusing on major traffic corridors in the city. See below for the details.

LED2

From the Office of Sustainability:

The City of Asheville is moving into the next phase of the LED streetlight installation program in which 1,500 more traditional street lights will be upgraded to LED fixtures. Upgrades will take place Monday through Thursday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. with minimal expectations of traffic disruption. Installations will mostly focus on major thoroughfares such as Hendersonville Rd, Patton Avenue, Brevard Rd, New Leicester Hwy, and Tunnel Rd, and will also include many lights in the downtown area and some in residential areas. The installations will begin in the south, then proceed to the west, north, and finally the central and eastern sections of the City, and are expected to be complete by the end of May.

Over the last three years the City has upgraded 7,400 street lights to the energy efficient LED technology which is currently saving the City $450,000 and avoiding 1,294 tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is equal to the emissions from burning 7 rail cars of coal.

These lighting upgrades build further upon the City’s successful outdoor lighting ordinance, which ensures all municipal streetlights adhere to “Dark Sky” standards.

For more information about these upgrades please visit the frequently asked questions page at www.ashevillenc.gov/green or email ksmithson@ashevillenc.gov.

Leave a Comment April 1, 2014

Look for your Recycle and Win sticker in the mail!

ScreenHunter_145 Feb. 20 12.22

Hey Asheville residents – Have you seen this sticker? Perhaps it arrived in the mail, or maybe you saw it on a neighbor’s blue recycle bin. Know what it means? If you are recycling correctly over the next six months, you could win a $50 worth of free groceries! How? The Recycle and Win program, a partnership between the City of Asheville and Coca-Cola, gives you a chance to be rewarded for your recycling efforts. Simply watch for the mailer, affix the included sticker onto your recycling cart, and recycle the acceptable materials. Our Prize Patrol will be randomly selecting 10 winners each week who, if recycling correctly, will win a $50 gift card to Ingles.

Since last week, the mailer has been going out to City of Asheville residents, so keep an eye out. If you think you may have overlooked your Recycle and Win sticker, you can pick one up at any Ingles store, but in order to participate, you must be a City of Asheville resident with residential recycling pickup.

Click here for the original Recycle and Win launch announcement.

Recycle and Win is another great way to be part of reducing landfill waste in Asheville. The City rolled out Big Blue – the 96 gallon curbside recycling cart – to residents in April of 2012. In the twelve months following, city residents recycled 25% more than the previous year, for a total of 7,600 tons of material recycled. That is more than the weight of the Eiffel Tower! Our collective recycling efforts in that year alone kept an additional 40 swimming pools worth of material out of the landfill. And that’s not all! Building on that momentum, Asheville City Council recently committed to a long-term waste reduction goal of 50% municipal solid waste reduction by the year 2035 (more on that soon!)

Between the ease of recycling in Big Blue and the chance to win a $50 gift card from Ingles each week for the next six months, we are excited for this partnership and residents’ efforts to bring us to the next level of carbon reduction. To learn more about what can and cannot be recycled in Asheville, and find out what day your recycling is picked up, click here.

Leave a Comment February 20, 2014

Wall Street and Rankin Avenue parking garages get LED upgrades

Two City of Asheville parking garages will been seen in a different light thanks to the City of Asheville’s participation in a newly implemented energy efficiency program with Duke Energy Progress.

Utilizing the Duke Energy Progress Small Business Energy Saver Program, the city will replace lights inside the Wall Street and Rankin Avenue parking garages with LED lighting. LED lighting is much more energy efficient than the high-pressure sodium lights currently being used, and the move will dramatically reduce the energy used by the facilities, resulting in significant utility savings to the City of Asheville.

Thanks to the SBES Program, the upgrade comes at a considerable savings to the City of Asheville. Duke Energy Progress will pick up 65 percent of the cost of the installation, leaving the city’s match at $47,510. With a projected savings of $20,000 per year, the project will pay for the city’s contribution in less than 36 months.

Since they run 24 hours a day, parking garage lights are a great candidate for energy reduction strategies. In all, 225 lights will be replaced in the two garages, with an energy reduction equal to the equivalent of 150 tons of carbon dioxide annually. The replacement will take place during December and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The scope of work and impact of the work will be comparable to routine maintenance in the garages and is expected to create a minimum of disruption for holiday shoppers parking in the facilities.

“This is an outstanding opportunity to advance the goals of reducing the City of Asheville’s carbon footprint in a very cost effective way,” said Kerby Smithson, Energy Analyst with the city’s Office of Sustainability. “And we are thankful to Duke Energy Progress for making this kind of partnership available to the city and to small businesses in the area.”

The Wall Street and Rankin Avenue facilities are two of four parking garages operated by the City of Asheville. The city’s newest garage, on Biltmore Avenue beneath the Aloft hotel, was constructed using LED lighting.

Asheville City Council unanimously approved this partnership at its November 12 meeting. Council has set a goal of reducing carbon reduction goal from municipal operations 80% by 2030, and one of Council’s strategic goals is that Asheville be the southeastern leader in clean energy and environmental sustainability.

The City of Asheville’s Sustainability Office works throughout the City of Asheville organization to develop opportunities for reductions in municipal energy use.

For more information, go to ashevillenc.gov/green.

More from the CoaBlog:

LED Streetlights Coming to a Street Near You

Biltmore Avenue Parking Garage earns regional recognition

Leave a Comment November 26, 2013

November is “Recycle It!” Month

November is “Recycle It!” Month in Asheville and throughout the month, the City of Asheville’s Office of Sustainability is offering tours and information that spotlight the city’s commitment to solid waste reduction.

Halloween may be over, but the Upcycled Halloween Costume Contest continues through November 5, with voting running through November 24. So submit those costume photos and then help choose the winner! Go here for details.

Also this month, the Office of Sustainability presents tours of the area’s solid waste and recycling facilities to offer a first-hand look at the impact recycling can have. The tour locations and times are:

Buncombe County Landfill tour: Wednesday Nov. 6, 12:15 p.m.
Danny’s Dumpster Compost Facility tour: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 12:15 p.m.
Curbside Management Recycling Plant tour: Wednesday, Nov. 20, 12:15 p.m.

All tours are free and open to the public, but registration is required ahead of time.
Contact Joey Robison at jrobison@ashevillenc.gov or (828)232-4517 to sign up.

Follow the City of Asheville on Facebook or Twitter for tips, information and cool facts throughout the month about the ways Asheville is decreasing its environmental impact.

Recycling is easy for Asheville residents – just put all of your recyclables in the big blue bin. Check the website for all that can be recycled and your pick up schedule: http://www.ashevillenc.gov/recycling.

Leave a Comment November 1, 2013

First year of Big Blue shows jump in recycling numbers

Question: What has 4,860,948 pounds of glass, 6,631,612 pounds of paper and nearly 1,000,000 pounds of plastic? Answer: The first year of Asheville’s Big Blue recycling program.

Crushed aluminum cans at the Curbside Management facility in north Asheville

The Zero Waste AVL program, featuring the blue single-stream recycling carts, rolled out in April 2012, and numbers show an increase of 4,240,000 pounds – or 2,120 tons – of material recycled over the previous year. That’s a nearly 25 percent increase.

“We get excited by numbers like these. This shows a really positive response from the residents of Asheville,” said the city’s Chief Sustainability Officer Maggie Ullman. “This has a significant impact on the materials we are putting in the landfill.”

So how much did Asheville recycle in the first year of Zero Waste AVL? That number rings up to 7,619 tons, slightly more than the weight of the Eiffel Tower.

The big goal of Big Blue is to divert materials from the landfill, and over its first year, Zero Waste Asheville reduced the amount of material sent there by 1,526 tons, a decrease of 6.5 percent compared to the previous year. That is enough material to fill 40 backyard swimming pools.

And speaking of swimming pools, with summer break winding down and Labor Day coming up, there is still time to squeeze in that cookout or picnic. And, Ullman says, there is plenty of opportunity to recycle after the end-of-summer party.

“All plastic containers you find at the grocery can go into the Big Blue carts,” Ullman says. “Potato salad containers, red cups, even clamshell salad containers.” Glass bottles, paper plates and aluminum pie tins, almost anything you find at the backyard barbecue, are also recyclable (Styrofoam, however, is not). To find out more about what materials can be recycled, go to www.ashevillenc.gov/recycling.

Asheville City Council approved the Zero Waste AVL program in August 2011, and the City of Asheville began delivering the big blue carts that March. The carts require no sorting or bagging. Zero Waste Asheville and other sustainability programs support Council’s strategic goal for Asheville to be the southeastern leader in clean energy and environmental sustainability.

Click here for more about Zero Waste AVL.

1 Comment August 21, 2013

City of Asheville employees selected for Leadership Asheville

The City of Asheville is pleased to announce that Deputy Finance Director Eric Hardy and Asheville Fire Department Public Information Officer Kelley Klope have both been selected to attend the 32nd Leadership Asheville Class beginning in September.

Leadership Asheville, operated through UNC Asheville is an important resource to the community, with participants honing leadership and collaborative skills and making valuable community connections. That, says Deputy City Manager Jeff Richardson, allows CoA employees to bring quality leadership skills back into the organization and continue its commitment to the community.

“This program not only exposes key city staff to some of the most pressing issues and opportunities our community is facing, but also provides networking opportunities for program participants to make meaningful friendships with fellow participants from different organizations throughout the community,” Richardson said.

“Leadership Asheville is excited to once again have members of our city government enrolled in our core program,” said Brian Turner, Assistant Vice Chancellor at UNC Asheville. “Over the years the City of Asheville has sent over 30 people through the program, firmly establishing their commitment not only to our community’s success but also that of their employees.”

Hardy was hired to the City’s Finance Department as Controller in 2011 and currently serves as the City’s Deputy Finance Director. Klope joined the Asheville Fire Department in 1996 and achieved the rank of Fire Specialist Sr. in 2007. She serves as the department’s Public Information Officer.

For more information about Leadership Asheville, go to www.leadsershipasheville.org.

Leave a Comment August 7, 2013

Plugged in with the APD’s hybrid electric car

Asheville Police Officer Boyd McCaskill says he gets a lot of thumbs up from passers by when he is patrolling his beat in the Downtown Business District. Some of that can be credited to the community outreach and increased visibility of the APD’s downtown unit, but he also thinks it has to do with his car. The APD’s Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicle turns heads, especially in a green-minded city like Asheville.

APD Chevy Volt

Officer McCaskill at the South Charlotte Street charging station.

“I have people asking me questions about the car all the time,” McCaskill says. “People say it is the sharpest looking police car they’ve seen.”

Since it was added to the city’s fleet a year ago, McCaskill has driven the cruiser a little over 4,000 miles and only used 33.7 gallons of gas. The rest of the cruiser’s energy comes from the solar powered charging station operated by Brightfield Transportation Solutions and located in the parking lot of the Public Works building at 161 South Charlotte Street. Over it’s lifetime, the vehicle has gotten around 130 mpg.

Dashboard displays show how efficient the car is operating and how to maximize energy use.

McCaskill says that there is still a role for conventional fueled vehicles on the force; their acceleration, weight and interior all make them effective for law enforcement. But the Chevy Volt is a great match for Asheville’s downtown business district where McCaskill is one of a team of Community Resource Officers.

Speed is not as crucial around downtown, the car is quieter so it’s not impacting noise in the downtown business district, and it doesn’t burn fuel while stopped at red lights.

McCaskill is the only officer that drives the volt, but he and the other officers in the downtown business district all utilize multi-modal forms of transportation, including biking, walking and riding Segways. All of these together not only save fuel but increase the officers’ visibility. That kind of contact with neighbors and business owners builds good relationships and helps foster the department’s philosophy of community policing, McCaskill says.

The City of Asheville remains committed to sustainable practices, and in 2007, Asheville City Council set a goal of reducing emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. The city’s fleet currently includes 36 compressed natural gas vehicles, 10 electric utility carts, 13 hybrids and the Chevy Volt PHEV. Steps like that have resulted in a 17.67 percent reduction in emissions, as noted on June 21 when the U.S. Conference of Mayors recognized Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy with first place honors for climate protection efforts. Click here for more about the efforts to reduce the City of Asheville’s carbon footprint.

The Asheville Police Department’s mission is to commit to excellence through Integrity, Fairness, Respect and Professionalism. Click here for more information from the APD.

Leave a Comment June 24, 2013

Purchasing Manager Amy Patterson earns School of Government CLGPO certification

City of Asheville Purchasing Manager Amy Patterson has earned the title of Certified Local Government Purchasing Officer through the North Carolina School of Government. The voluntary program, which requires a rigorous continuing education and examination process, designates Amy among the top in her field and reaffirms the city’s dedication to best business practices.

City of Asheville PurchasingNorth Carolina local governments must abide by very specific procurement and contracting laws that provide transparency to citizens. CLGPO certification means that the Amy and the City’s Purchasing Division are recognized as providers of efficient, fair and transparent business practices. Amy has been the city’s purchasing manager since 2007, and has been pursuing CLGPO certification for much of that time in an effort consistent with the City of Asheville’s goal of continuous improvement.

“Amy helps ensure that taxpayers get the best value for goods and services, which is especially important during challenging budget times,” says Deputy Finance Director Eric Hardy.

The Purchasing Division is responsible for procurement of equipment, supplies and services. It issues and manages requests for bids for contracted services throughout the City of Asheville organization, and Amy’s certification ensures that Asheville is a leader in doing business in a fair and open way.

The division works to enhance bidding opportunities to contractors by working closely the City of Asheville’s Minority Business Program and by utilizing social media to spread the word about bid requests.

Click here for more information about the City of Asheville’s purchasing division.

To receive bid requests via Twitter, follow @ashevillebids.

Leave a Comment April 19, 2013

Collaboration, economic development and bringing business to Asheville

The President’s choice for Asheville as his first stop following Tuesday’s State of the Union Address highlights an exciting success story in the city and region’s job growth and economic development efforts.

Linamar’s 2011 announcement that it would locate its manufacturing facility in Asheville, and the swift news of its expansion in 2012, means a collective 650 new jobs and a revival of the manufacturing industry that has historically been the backbone of the region.

Job growth and economic development are among the city’s top strategic goals. The City of Asheville’s investments into its infrastructure focus an eye on keeping Asheville a good place to do business and supporting a skilled workforce.

“Our goal is to create an environment that builds on the quality of life Asheville offers and encourages companies to come here, stay here and expand here,” said Lauren Bradley, the city’s Finance and Management Services Director.

Having a strong pool of skilled workers in the area is also crucial to attracting business to Asheville, and the educational opportunities provided by local community colleges ensure that we have an exceptional workforce. Keeping them here is just as important. Asheville’s dedication to quality of life is reflected in strategies like affordable housing and in its complete streets policy, which shows its commitment to multi-modal transportation options.

That commitment was integral in attracting businesses like New Belgium Brewing, which is bringing $175 million in capital improvements and more than 175 jobs by building its east coast facility here.

Attracting businesses like Linamar and New Belgium would not be possible without important collaborations between groups like the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County, a public-private partnership of which the City of Asheville is a part, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, Buncombe County, and advocates at the state level.

Economic development collaborations have resulted in recent success stories like the construction of the Aloft Hotel and a new city-owned parking deck, the expansion of Thermo Fischer Scientific Inc.’s operations within the City which brought with it 110 jobs, and the development of Biltmore Park Town Square, a 42-acre mixed-use development of office, retail and residential space.

Leave a Comment February 14, 2013

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