Home Local News Mayor Cooper announces new accomplishments advancing sustainability agenda, including: Federal Solar Recognition; Energy Benchmarking; Climate Action Plan Survey; and updated Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

Mayor Cooper announces new accomplishments advancing sustainability agenda, including: Federal Solar Recognition; Energy Benchmarking; Climate Action Plan Survey; and updated Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Mayor Cooper at this year’s Arbor Day ceremony. The mayor is touting the city’s achievements in becoming greener and more sustainable. (photo courtesy of Mayor’s Office)

Mayor John Cooper has made clear that creating a greener, more sustainable city is central to his vision for Nashville’s neighborhood and families.

“It is our responsibility to create a stronger, more sustainable city, and to leave behind greener, more resilient neighborhoods for the next generation,” said Cooper. “I am proud of the progress we have made on this important goal but there is much more work that needs to be done. Achieving greater sustainability will only happen through consistent prioritization, and I am committed to ensuring this remains front and center in all of Metro’s work for years to come.”

This spring and summer, all Metro departments engaged in energy benchmarking for the first time. Under the mayor’s leadership and with the Department of General Services’ support, 11 departments reported utility consumption and cost data for 329 facilities. The data will allow the city to review and monitor the performance of Metro-owned buildings and identify opportunities for energy efficiency investments. Increasing energy efficiency of Metro facilities results in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and costs associated with facility operations. Energy benchmarking will become an annual effort moving forward.

In coordination with the Civic Design Center and with support from a Southeast Sustainability Directors Network Community Collaboration Microgrant, the Mayor’s Office led a climate action survey from April to June, asking Nashvillians about their climate priorities. The survey was a resounding success, with over 3,500 participants.

Preliminary analysis of the preferences of these respondents shows that people are tired of words. Nashville wants to immediately take bold action to combat climate change. Beneath that headline, survey respondents voiced overwhelming support for EV adoption and broader electrification, an eagerness for businesses to embrace sustainable products, and strong backing of expanding public transit.

The Mayor’s Office and the Department of General Services recently released an update to the community and municipal inventories of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. As our population grew by approximately one percent, total community emissions decreased by 1.5% from 2017 to 2019. While these numbers show we have far to go to reach the city’s carbon reduction goals, it is a feat that Nashville continues to make cross-sector improvements in its emissions performance as our population continues to boom. Per person emissions also decreased from 16.54 to 16.22 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, a nearly two percent decrease.

The inventory shows that roughly half of the community’s emissions come from the transportation sector, underscoring the importance of furthering multimodal transit options, connecting communities, and facilitating adoption of electric vehicles. Emissions from energy consumption of buildings of all sectors are also a significant driver of greenhouse gas emissions, highlighting the need to pursue energy efficiency and clean energy solutions.

Earlier this month, Nashville officially received its first-ever designation from SolSmart, a federal program that recognizes municipalities that have worked to remove barriers to solar energy. Mayor Cooper strongly believes that accessible renewable energy is the future, and the SolSmart designation acknowledges the concrete actions the city has taken to make good on that commitment.

To receive this designation, the Mayor’s Office worked with Metro departments to ensure that staff are trained in solar permitting and inspection best practices. Additionally, SolSmart affirms that Metro has served as a leader on solar, installing solar PV on under-utilized properties and government facilities. This designation should encourage Nashvillians who are considering installing solar PV that applying for permitting is not burdensome.

“Nashville is eager for climate action. To ensure the future livability of our city, we need to act now,” Chief Sustainability and Resilience Officer Kendra Abkowitz said. “Our early achievements this year not only demonstrate the Administration’s commitment to sustainability and resilience but will also allow us to measure the impact of our many upcoming and exciting projects.”

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