Atlanta’s plan for 100 percent renewable energy: What’s been done to reach this ambitious goal

On May 1, 2017, a resolution introduced by Kwanza Hall was passed during the Atlanta City Council that commits Atlanta to transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy. A year later, the Atlanta Office of Resilience has created a plan for the ambitious goal and is taking action now to meet the deadlines.

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Cicely Garrett, the deputy chief resilience officer for the city of Atlanta Office of Resilience explained the office’s role in policy implementation in Atlanta.

“In May 2016, Atlanta became the 100th Resilient City, officially launching Resilient Atlanta. The program focuses on building a strategy to combat the physical, social, and economic challenges cities face,” Garrett said.

She detailed the goal of the office, making Atlanta resilient, and what this really means.

“Resilience really comes down to what is the type of community we want to live in that has the things that we want and need,” Garrett said. “Not just meeting our basic needs but helping us meet our full human potential.”

The unanimously approved measure commits the city government to creating a plan to transfer all of its buildings to renewable electricity energy sources by 2025. A decade later, in 2035, the entire city will switch to 100 percent renewable energy. The Huffington Post reports that Atlanta will become the 27th city in the U.S. to pledge to go completely green.

The Atlanta Office of Resilience was were given until January 2018 to create a plan. Garrett explained the key components of the plan according to the office.

“The plan will emphasize carbon reductions, resilience, equity, improved public health, and economic development,” she said. In addition to this, the plan covers 100% of energy consumed in Atlanta with the exception of transportation and on-site natural gas, for heating, cooking, or other household needs.

She said the plan has already been beneficial to the city of Atlanta, “Energy efficiency upgrades to municipal building stock have saved millions and building energy performance has led to groundbreaking policy initiatives.”

One of these initiatives is the Atlanta Better Building Challenge. This program has basis in President Obama’s expansion of the Recovery Act in February 2011, the Better Buildings Initiative. The goal is to make commercial buildings 20 percent more efficient in water and energy use.

Atlanta leads in the nation with over 114 million square footage participating in the program. Several other initiatives have been put in place for Atlanta to reach these goals including The Commercial Buildings Energy, the Water Efficiency Ordinance, the Sustainable Building Ordinance and the Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing Program.

The Solar Energy Procurement Agreement was developed as an energy contract to further establish the market for solar energy in Atlanta. Through this the city has installed 1.5 megawatts of rooftop solar panels across 24 city-owned buildings.

One key player in Atlanta’s 2035 goal is Solarize Atlanta, which intends to work with the city and provide affordable residential options. As of May 2018, 430 neighborhoods have signed up. The Office of Resilience has partnered with Solarize Atlanta to provide discounted rooftop panels to citizens.

“It is because of these successful programs and the transformative impact they are having on building performance in the city that the Atlanta City Council felt comfortable in adopting the ambitious target of a 100 percent clean energy transition for the city,” she said.

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