By Charlotte J. Nash, Chairman
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
Energy efficiency. Water conservation. Green buildings. Reducing the impact on our water, air, and land. Environmental sustainability means all of these things and more.
I’m pleased to share news that the Atlanta Regional Commission recently upgraded our Green Communities certification from the silver level to gold. We’re the first county in metro Atlanta to earn that distinction.
It took the combined efforts of countless people to reach this goal. Together, their work earned 285 points out of a possible total of 435 in 10 categories – green buildings, energy efficiency, green power water conservation, trees/greenspace, transportation/air quality, recycling/waste reduction, land use, education, and innovation.
Your County government is setting a good example by living green, working green, and growing green. We’re pulling together to build a more sustainable future for our children and grandchildren – and to save money today.
Our newest green buildings are the Yellow River Water Reclamation Facility in Lilburn, which received LEED Gold certification in April 2012, and the Gwinnett Senior Services Center Phase II in Lawrenceville, which is targeted for a LEED Silver designation this year. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a set of rating systems for green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods established by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Innovative projects like generating electricity from sewer gas to help power the F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center played a big part in our success. But so did many smaller projects to save energy like retrofitting lighting fixtures with energy efficient light bulbs.
We’ve completed formal energy audits on every County-owned building – and are now in the process of conducting water audits – to see where we can realize cost savings and reduce our impact by operating more efficiently. We’re prioritizing the results to see which improvements offer the quickest payback, because sustainable practices save natural resources and money.
The ARC is not the only organization to honor the County for being green. Just last month, Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful named us Green Government of the Decade for making it a priority to be a good steward of our natural resources. They also recognized Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway as the Volunteer of the Decade for his dedicated support of GCB mission, programs, and services.
You can help build a more sustainable Gwinnett by making simple changes at home – and you’ll save money, too. Install water-saving faucets and appliances. Replace old, inefficient toilets with new Water-Sense labeled, low-flow models, and then recycle the old ones at Water Resources in Lawrenceville to be crushed for use in road beds.
You’ll find more information about recycling and saving water on the Gwinnett County website at www.sustainablegwinnett.com.
We can brag about our ARC Green Communities certification for the next four years. But in 2018 – as we celebrate Gwinnett County’s 200th birthday – we’ll need to reapply. We can’t stop here. I hope your household will join the effort to make our community more sustainable.