Filed under: Sustainability Office

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.


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 or email

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

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 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:

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.

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

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

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

“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.

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

Recycling for the holidays: don’t pitch the wrapping paper!

The holidays mean big gatherings, big meals – and big piles of discarded paper, shopping bags and boxes. The EPA estimates that household garbage increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That makes the holidays a great time to utilize recycling opportunities in Asheville and fill up those Big Blue bins when cleaning up after the party or once the presents have all been opened.

Asheville residents have stepped up their recycling game, especially since the introduction of the Big Blue recycling carts and the launch of the single stream recycling program. This year, residential recycling between July and October increased 69.64 percent over the same time period in 2011, diverting 1,056.72 tons of waste from the landfill.

Curbside Management has provided a great list of things that can be recycled during the holidays:

Wrapping paper (except for the foil kind)
Cardboard boxes (don’t worry about all the tape)
Dress boxes
Christmas cards (even the glittery ones!)
Newspapers and inserts
Junk mail
Paper shopping bags
Broth cartons and wine boxes
Eggnog cartons
2 liter soft drink bottles
Cracker, cereal and other food boxes
Almost every grocery container – cans, jugs, bottles, jars (but not black microwave trays)

Here’s the short list of things that can’t go in the recycling:

Tissue paper
Used paper plates and cups
Napkins or paper towels

And don’t forget about the Christmas trees – they can be recycled too! Trees will be collected curbside according to the routine brush collection schedule, or they can dropped off at the Buncombe County Landfill or at private yard waste facilities. Please remove all lights, ornaments, tinsel and stands. Have an artificial Christmas tree? You’ll need to call (828) 251-1122 to set up collection.

Reducing Asheville’s carbon footprint is one of Asheville City Council’s strategic goals. The Zero Waste AVL initiative page on the City of Asheville website lists a lot of great information for recycling at the holidays and all year round. Check it out here.

And enjoy the holidays!

Leave a Comment December 19, 2012

Green features earn recreation center LEED Platinum certification

The City of Asheville is pleased to announce that the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center at 285 Livingston Street has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification. The designation is the highest level of certification awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council in its recognition of building design and construction practices that reduce carbon footprint and environmental impact.

“This certification is great news,” said project manager Al Koph from the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department. “We’ve worked hard to make this project a flagship for the city and an example of what can be achieved in sustainable building.”
City of Asheville LEED Platinum Certification

Dedicated in October 2011, phase one of the recreation center was the first City of Asheville facility built since Asheville City Council’s 2007 direction that all new municipal construction achieve at least gold LEED certification. Council includes among its strategic goals that Asheville be a southeastern leader in sustainability.

Throughout the project’s first phase, project architect Jane Mathews, acting as the LEED certification administrator and working with her design team, submitted qualifying elements to the USGBC and confirmed that it was on track. Thanks to features like use of natural light and water-efficient fixtures, the project cleared the bar for gold certification and then some.

“The City of Asheville is to be commended for showing strong leadership in promoting a very high level of sustainable design for its new facilities,” Mathews said. “We were honored to assist the City in fulfilling this commitment and to furthering its environmental stewardship by providing a quality, affordable and sustainable new center for Asheville and its citizens.”

Mathews presented the LEED Platinum certificate to Asheville City Council at its December 11 meeting.

The Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center is probably most easily recognized by its roof, the shape of which channels rainwater into sediment reducing ponds and cisterns as well as the roof gardens. But the center also employs energy-efficient windows, geothermal temperature regulation and energy conserving insulation. In rating buildings for certification, the USGBC also factors in how far materials have to travel to get on site and the fact that most of the materials removed for the building were recycled.

Phase one of the center houses an auditorium, classrooms and office space. Phase two, which is currently in the planning stage, will include a gymnasium, a spray ground, playground, and a section of the Town Branch Greenway.

Click here for more information about the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center or any of the City of Asheville recreation centers.

Click here for more about the City of Asheville’s sustainability initiative.

1 Comment December 18, 2012

LED Streetlights Coming to a Street Near You

From the City of Asheville Office of Sustainability:

Beginning Monday, Nov. 12, the city will move into the third and final phase of the streetlight upgrade program in which traditional bulbs will be upgraded to LED fixtures. When complete in June 2013 all roads in city limits except Department of Transportation roads will be upgraded to LED streetlights. Upgrades will take place Monday through Thursday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. with no expectations of traffic disruption. Installations will begin at the base of city limits in south Asheville this fall, moving to east Asheville this winter and concluding in north Asheville next spring.

Over the last two years the City has upgraded 3,400 street lights to the energy efficiency LED technology and will complete the city wide program in June 2013 with a total of 7,400 fixtures. Once completed, all three phases are expected to save $450,000 annually and 1,294 tons of avoided carbon which is equal to the emissions from burning 7 rail cars of coal.

The first and second phases of this program have already resulted in $165,000 of energy savings. When this program began, the municipal budget for streetlights was $1.7M annually. In order to make the investment in LED streetlights the city is keeping this budget flat and using the energy savings to pay for the investment in this technology. The energy savings is so substantial that in addition to all streetlights being upgraded, the majority of the sustainability program activities are being funded through this source.

The City of Asheville is the first in the nation to implement this innovative financial model, called the Green Capital Improvement Program, where all the energy savings pay for the energy efficiency investment. These lighting upgrades build further upon the successful lighting ordinance passed in 2008, which ensures all municipal streetlights adhere to “Dark Sky” standards.

For more information about these upgrades please visit the frequently asked questions page at or email

Click here for more background on the City of Asheville’s LED streetlight upgrades.

1 Comment November 5, 2012

Previous page

RSS Feed

City of Asheville

City of Avl on Facebook

YouTube Videos

Flickr Photos

1 Bridge Abutments Before

2 Bridge Abutment Footers

3 Bridge Abutment Wall Pouring

More Photos

Recent Entries