Local Scoop


Asheville, North Carolina News

Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

Drive Green, Save Green

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – Driving green means adopting a few simple, inexpensive driving habits to decrease the amount of fuel you use and put more money in your pocket.

  1. Get the junk out of your trunk. When you carry extra weight, your vehicle must work harder – use more fuel to move.
  2. Don’t go to low. Check tire pressure once a month and keep tires property inflated and you can save up to a tank of gas a year.
  3. Slow down and save. Every five miles over 60 mph can cost you up to an additional 30 cents a gallon.
  4. Don’t be a jackrabbit. Abrupt starts and hard stops may only save you a few seconds of time but they can increase fuel consumption by 40%.
  5. Change your oil. Changing your oil regularly can result in better gas mileage.
  6. Idling is not ideal. Turn off your engine if you are waiting for more than a couple minutes.
  7. Be smart when you cool. At speeds less than 40 mph, roll down windows; more than 40 mph, use AC.
  8. Use the cruise. Use cruise control for more than 10,000 miles a year and save yourself 60 gallons of fuel.
  9. Let your car breathe. A clogged air filter can cut mileage by 10%.
  10. Don’t drip and drive. Tightening up your fuel cap can prevent leakage of up to 30 gallons of gas a year

City of Asheville Recieves Sustainable Community Grant

Friday, October 29th, 2010
ASHEVILLE, NC – The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that the City of Asheville is among 62 nationwide recipients of sustainable community grant funding stemming from a collaboration between the DOT and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  DOT and HUD announced a total of $68 million in Challenge Grant/TIGER II funds for innovative sustainable development planning projects that integrate transportation, housing and urban development.

The original DOT announcement can be found at: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2010/dot18810.html.  The City of Asheville will receive $850,000 toward its plans for its East of the Riverway Sustainable Multimodal Neighborhood initiative, part of a push for comprehensive housing, economic development and multi-modal transportation in the city’s river district.

“This grant award demonstrates that the City of Asheville’s sustainability initiative is in step with a larger national push for collaborative, comprehensive and sustainable development planning,” said Community Development Director Jeff Staudinger. “More and more, much like the partnership established by the DOT, HUD and EPA, Federal agencies are going to want to see multi-pronged strategies and regional cooperation in housing and transportation innovation.”

The challenge grant funding provides another step toward the East of the Riverway plan, one part of a larger plan for riverfront redevelopment that will leverage public/private partnerships and funding from multiple agencies. The award comes on the heels of the October 15 announcement of a $1.6 million HUD Sustainable Housing and Community Planning grant awarded to the Land-of-Sky Regional Council, of which the City of Asheville was a co-applicant.

The $850,000 award is less than the city’s initial request of $3 million, and the City of Asheville will next work with the DOT and its partners to prioritize the most appropriate use for the grant funding.

“We look forward to furthering our relationship with the U.S. Department of Transportation and working with them to identify the best ways this money can advance the East of the Riverway initiative,” Staudinger said.

For more on the City of Asheville Riverway Redevelopment initiative, go to http://ashevillenc.gov/business/business_in/economic_dev/default.aspx?id=18016&ekmensel=18_submenu_0_link_8.

Hilton Asheville Recieves First City of Asheville Rebate for LEED Certification

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – A green and sustainable Asheville is a core strategy in the City of Asheville Strategic Plan adopted by City Council for fiscal year 2010-2011.  One goal Council identified to achieve a positive impact in this area is the development of a plan for implementing a community energy reduction goal.  In support of that goal, the city of Asheville building safety department provides a 50% rebate for plan review fees once a developer obtains LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The building safety department processed the first rebate, in the amount of $5,350, to Biltmore Farms LLC on October 18th for the Hilton Asheville.  The hotel achieved LEED Silver Certification for incorporating a variety of sustainable strategies with the largest factor being a solar hot water system.

By using less energy and water, LEED certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.  The Hilton Asheville, for example, will eliminate 25 tons of carbon dioxide per year through its solar hot water heating system.  A 25-ton reduction is the equivalent of planting 7,000 trees.

Robert Griffin, building safety director, states, “the rebate for LEED and other sustainable building certifications and methods has been very well received with the Asheville building community and Biltmore Farms LLC should be congratulated on achieving this distinguished certification for the Hilton in Biltmore Park.  We hope to see more developers take advantage of the rebate.”

Buildings in the United States are responsible for 39% of carbon dioxide emissions, 40% of energy consumption, 13% water consumption and 15% gross domestic profit per year, making green building a source of significant economic and environmental opportunity.  Greater building efficiency can meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs.

For more information about the development services center, visit:  http://www.ashevillenc.gov/business/development_services/default.aspx?id=384.

Information about rebate programs for sustainable building certifications is available in the fee schedule: http://www.ashevillenc.gov/uploadedFiles/Departments/Buidling_Safety/Permit%20Fees%20for%202010-2011.pdf.

The city of Asheville is committed to lowering the city’s overall carbon footprint.  For information about sustainability initiatives visit:  http://www.ashevillenc.gov/green.

Four Asheville Neighborhoods Tapped for Waste Reduction Pilot Program

Friday, October 1st, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The City of Asheville is examining new possibilities to increase consumer recycling and affect waste reduction within the city, and is drawing on community members in four Asheville neighborhoods for assistance.

As part of the “HowLowCanAvlGo” campaign, the city, in conjunction with Curbside Management, is conducting a waste reduction pilot program in neighborhoods on the north, south, east and west sides of Asheville. Residents in those neighborhoods will receive new blue 95-gallon carts to use for recycling all goods currently handled by Curbside management.

“Everything they normally put in their bins, they now will put in this cart,” says City of Asheville Solid Waste Manager Wendy Simmons. “And they don’t have to sort it.”

The pilot program is a next step in determining the best way to encourage and incentivize recycling and reducing the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill. The carts will make it even easier to recycle while providing residents with more available volume for recyclable goods.

The barrels are being distributed to 770 residences in Norwood Park, Burton Street, Parkway Forest and Park Avenue/The Views neighborhoods. These neighborhoods, explains Simmons, were chosen in order to create as diverse a sample group as possible that is representative of the city at large.

The pilot program will last three months, during which time, the City of Asheville and Curbside Management will weigh how much recycling and trash is generated and compare that number to weights collected prior to the distribution of the carts. Curbside Management will also collect data on sorting and handling the recycling to determine the feasibility of expanding the program city-wide.

“It gives us an opportunity to review challenges we might have, such as topography and accessibility,” says Public Works Director Cathy Ball, “and figure out how to address those challenges.”

The pilot program, says Simmons, is truly a community effort that draws on the organization and participation already present in the selected neighborhoods. Getting the word out about the program to everyone in a community is a challenging prospect, but already several neighborhood association members have stepped forward to help distribute information and get their neighbors on board.

“That’s actually one of the most exciting parts of this for me,” Simmons says. “Block leaders stepped up and said they will deliver our brochures and surveys. It’s great to get that buy in at that level.”

Parkway Forest Neighborhood Association President Barbara Buchanan says that news of the pilot program in her neighborhood resulted in the largest turnout of any association meeting. Parkway Forest uses block leaders to distribute newsletters by hand, and they were able to use the same technique getting information out about the recycling effort.

“We’re very pleased the city picked Parkway Forest for the program,” Buchanan says. “We pretty well covered the whole neighborhood.”

The surveys, provided to everyone participating in the program and made available online, will give additional useful data, as will follow up meetings with associations.

“We’re trying to provide all the means we can for people to get feedback to us,” says Ball. “We really can’t do it without their participation.”

The Waste Reduction Pilot Program is being coordinated across multiple city of Asheville department divisions, including Sanitation, the Office of Sustainability and Community Relations. For more information on city of Asheville recycling initiatives, a list of materials recycled in the city, and details on the pilot program, go to www.ashevillenc.gov/recycling.

Associated photos may be found at coablog.ashevillenc.gov.

City Seeks Public Participation in Recycling Contest

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The City of Asheville is participating in the Cans for Cash City Recycling Challenge. The contest, sponsored by The United States Conference of Mayors, Keep America Beautiful, and Novelis Corporation, challenges cities across the country to promote citizen participation in the collection of aluminum beverage cans.

This is the fourth year that the city has participated in this event and the amount of aluminum has increased with each year.  Last year the city collected 44,057 pounds of aluminum during the month of October.

Asheville will compete with other cities of the same size for up to $5,000 in awards.  Awards will be used to support recycling efforts through local education and awareness programs.

Approximately 50 billion aluminum cans end up in landfills each year.  Recycling aluminum beverage cans reduces waste in our landfills and helps create a sustainable environment.  The Challenge runs Oct. 1 through Oct. 31.  Recycle those aluminum cans!

For more information about the Challenge or drop-off center locations, go to  www.ashevillenc.gov/recycling or call 251-1122.

Western North Carolina Alliance Hosts an Evening with John Muir

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The Western North Carolina Alliance and Clear Channel Asheville invites you to an evening around the campfire with America’s best known conservationist, John Muir and President Teddy Roosevelt on Thursday, October 7 at the Asheville Community Theatre.

This year’s show, The Tramp and the Roughrider, recounts part of a four-day camping trip Muir and Roosevelt took alone in 1903 in the Yosemite wilderness. The action unfolds around a campfire at sunset on Glacier Point, overlooking the magnificent Yosemite Valley, and the audience will hear the men spar over environmental and wilderness issues, witnessing the conversation that helped lead Roosevelt to establish 200 million acres of wilderness, five new national parks, and 55 wildlife preserves during his tenure.

Lee Stetson has been the “Voice of John Muir” for over 25 years and was featured in the acclaimed 2009 Ken Burns special, National Parks –America’s Best Idea.  Joe Wiegand has been reprising Theodore Roosevelt for 6 years and performed at the White House in 2008 in honor of Roosevelt’s 150th birthday.

Wine and dessert for the reception following the show have been generously donated by Biltmore Wines, Blue Ridge Food Ventures and Winter Sun Farms, and Greenlife Market.

Tickets are $20 for WNCA members, $25 for non-members, $30 at the door.

Bill McKibben to Speak at Warren Wilson

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – Just four days before his 10-10-10 Global Work Party to combat climate change, Bill McKibben will give a free public lecture Oct. 6 as part of Warren Wilson College’s Sustainability Speakers Series. The presentation, in partnership with The Wilderness Society and Orion magazine, begins at 7 p.m. in the College Chapel and is titled, “The Most Important Number on Earth: From Appalachia to the Arctic, a Crisis and a Movement.”

McKibben and other event organizers are seeking to involve more than 2,500 groups in more than 150 countries in projects on Oct. 10. The day’s goal, McKibben writes, “is not to solve the climate crisis one project at a time, but to send a pointed political message: If we can get to work, you can get to work too – on the legislation and the treaties that will make all our work easier in the long run.”

McKibben is co-founder and director of 350.org, a global climate-change initiative so named because scientists say that 350 parts per million is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Current concentrations of CO2 are steadily approaching 400 parts per million. The 10/10/10 event is being organized by McKibben and his colleagues at 350.org.

McKibben’s 13 books include “The End of Nature,” published in 1989 and considered the first book for a general audience on global warming. His most recent book is “Eaarth… Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.” He is the recipient of Guggenheim and Lyndhurst fellowships and the Lannan Prize in Nonfiction Writing.

For more information concerning the Oct. 6 lecture, call 828-771-2002 or e-mail [email protected]

Grove Park Inn Adds Innovative Solar Panels to Sports Complex

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa announced today that it has entered into a partnership with FLS Energy to add solar panels to the resorts modern Sports Complex. The 12 panel solar thermal system at the Sports Complex will provide about 600 gallons of hot water a day for use in the locker rooms.

The project is being developed using an innovative solar Power Purchase Agreement, in which FLS Energy will design and install the system on the roof of the complex with no up-front cost to The Grove Park Inn.

Grove Park Inn will in turn purchase the thermal energy to heat the water from FLS Energy at a rate equal to 20% less than that of fossil fuels. In addition to the immediate reduction in energy costs, FLS guarantees that the price of the solar energy will not increase for a period of at least 10- 20 years. In other words, in 2020, Grove Park Inn will still be paying the same prices for heating water at the Sports Complex as in 2010.

“We are excited about this latest improvement at our Sports Complex,” said Ronald E. Morin, Vice-President and Managing Director at The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa. “From an extensive recycling program to providing special parking for alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles, we are committed to converting to as many green practices as possible. Not only will this save the resort money in the years to come, more importantly it will help protect the environment. Environmental sustainability is not just something The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa strives for as a company, but it is also obviously a personal passion of many members of our staff.  In that, we are always asking ourselves what can we do better for our next hundred years?”

Key annual environmental benefits from the project include:

– 7 tons of CO2 avoided per year

– The equivalent of 22 trees planted equivalent per year

– 3 cars taken off the road per year

“FLS Energy is honored to be partnering with Grove Park Inn on this solar project,” said Brownie Newman, Project Finance Director for FLS Energy. “This project will demonstrate how businesses can access clean, renewable energy, reduce their operating costs and lock-in low energy prices—all with no upfront cost required.”

The solar system is set to be installed and operational by the end of the year.

For more information, please contact The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa at 800.438.0050 or 828.252.2711; visit www.groveparkinn.com, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ewgrove and Facebook at www.facebook.com/groveparkinn.

City Fire Stations to be Outfitted with Solar Technology

Monday, September 20th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – Fire stations in east and west Asheville will soon get their hot water from newly installed solar panels, announced the City of Asheville’s Office of Sustainability. On Sept. 16, technicians from Asheville-based Sundance Power Systems installed two collector panels atop Asheville Fire and Rescue’s Station 8 on Tunnel Road. In the coming weeks, similar panels will be installed at Station 6 on Haywood Road.

“This is a first for the city,” said Linda Fowler, Project Manager for the Office of Sustainability. “This fits right in with Asheville’s goals for reductions in energy use.”

Because firefighters occupy fire stations full-time, and use hot water at a level comparable to or even above residential levels, outfitting the fire stations was a good fit for reducing power costs in the city organization as a whole. Each station houses six to seven firefighters.

“For the firefighters, this is basically a house, so it made a lot of sense in getting the biggest payback fastest,” Fowler said. “It’s going to make a big difference in their electric bills.”

That means not only a reduction in energy use, but also a reduction in the fire department’s operating budget.

The systems utilize flat solar collector panels to absorb solar energy and use it to heat water for domestic uses like showers, laundry and kitchen use. Though operating on solar technology, the stations’ hot water heaters will still be able to access backup power during long periods of low sunlight.

Funding for the $21,000 contract comes from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, which seeks to stimulate jobs and business as well as encourage industry in new, green technology. The contract was awarded to Sundance Power Systems after an open request for bids. “We are tied by law to that process, and accepting the lowest responsible bid,” Fowler said. “But it is always nice to have somebody local.”

In a separate project, the Tunnel Road station will also be receiving energy efficient weatherization by Asheville-based Home Energy Partners, including window replacement, weather stripping and insulation, which will further reduce energy use.

The fire station solar upgrades correspond to strategic goals established by Asheville City Council that call for Asheville to be green, sustainable and fiscally responsible. Council also passed resolutions in 2007 calling for the city to reduce its carbon footprint at an annual rate of 2 percent, and achieving an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

For more information on efforts towards sustainability and energy efficiency, please visit:  http://www.ashevillenc.gov/green.

Photographs can be found at http://coablog.ashevillenc.gov/.

Asheville Based FLS Energy to Install Solar Panals at AB Tech

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – A-B Tech has entered into an agreement with FLS Energy, Inc., to have 39 thermal collectors installed on four campus buildings to provide hot water heated by solar energy.

Funded by a U.S. Department of Energy appropriation from 2008 secured by U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, the College’s Global Institute for Sustainability Technology project will provide 1,885 gallons of hot water a day. The panels will be installed starting later in the spring and the installation should be complete by the end of the year.

FLS Energy, a solar energy generation company based in Asheville, will own, maintain, and operate the solar thermal systems throughout the 10-year lease agreement. FLS Energy will then sell the energy used to heat the water back to the College at approximately one-half the current rate paid for natural gas. The total potential savings is about $22,000 over the next 10 years.

Bill Bondurant, project developer for FLS Energy, collaborated with members of A-B Tech’s leadership team, including Max Queen, vice president of Risk Management and Operations; Richard Mauney, executive vice president of Finance and Information Systems Technology and Vernon Daugherty, dean of Engineering and Applied Technology, to determine the College’s needs.

“It’s been a long process, but we have had lots of support. The bidding started in September of 2009 and our Board of Trustees approved the project in February,” Queen said.

An assessment found that the Magnolia Building, housing the culinary program, and the Birch Building, housing cosmetology programs, were the largest consumers of hot water. They will receive 26 and seven thermal collectors, respectively. Fernihurst, with its culinary kitchen, and Blue Ridge Food Ventures at the College’s Enka site, will also have solar panels installed.

“We have installed 30 large-scale solar energy systems across the state and I am pleased to see A-B Tech taking a leadership role in sustainability and environmental impact reduction,” Bondurant said.