Atlanta and Miami Among Cities Declaring Green Initiatives

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The cities of Atlanta and Miami are two of the most recent cities to announce their green initiatives –Atlanta for zero-waste and Miami for energy efficiency. Both Atlanta and Miami hope to serve as model cities for their respective programs, inspiring other cities to expand their green efforts.

Downtown Atlanta announced its plan to become the Southeast’s first Zero Waste Zone in February of this year, with plans to expand the program across the state in the near future. The project’s first stop was the downtown Atlanta convention district, where hundreds of thousands tons of waste are sent to landfills. Here’s an outline of some measures put in place to accomplish a zero waste initiative:

  • The Hyatt Regency Atlanta, where 423,433 meals were served in 2008, now diverts an estimated 928,000 pounds of residual food product from the landfill to be composted. All plates are wiped clean of food, including meat products and placed in compost containers. The spent grease from frying is even captured and refined into bio-fuel.
  • The city now has commercially available biodiesel fuel, being sold for $2.29 a gallon, for any vehicle that runs on diesel. The fuel is made from locally collected fryer oils, meaning it doesn’t travel far from the source to the pump.
  • The food waste is collected and blended with wood and yard waste, creating a high-quality organic compost available for sale to local farmers, landscapers and gardeners.

According to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Georgians dispose of more than 17 million tons of solid waste per year. Recoverable products, including paper, organics and plastics, make up 82 percent of the recyclable materials disposed of in the landfills. With the Zero Waste Zone project, these reusable products will be recycled.

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300 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles will be added to the Florida Power & Light Company fleet, powered using 50 new charging stations. Photo: Austinenergy.com

A bit further South, the mayor of Miami announced this week an energy initiative to invest in Smart Grid technology and renewable energy over the next two years. The initiative, called “Energy Smart Miami,” is expected to create 800 to 1,000 jobs to implement a wide range of technologies to improve electricity delivery and electricity management.

The initiative will use federal economic stimulus funds to help implement the $200 million energy efficiency investment. Program highlights will include:

  • The installation of Smart Meters to more than 1 million homes and most businesses in Miami-Dade County. The Smart Meters will allow customers to monitor energy use.
  • The addition of solar panels to local universities and schools to help meet their energy needs with renewable, non-polluting technologies.
  • The implementation of a Smart-Grid Automation and Communication system to connect Smart Meters, high-efficiency transformers, digitized substations, power generation and other equipment.

Both Atlanta and Miami are serving as model cities for their respective programs. Carol Browner, who serves as President Obama’s point person on energy and climate change said of Miami’s program, “I commend Mayor Diaz for creating a plan that will put these recovery dollars to work and make Miami a Smart Grid model for cities across our country.”

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