By David Pendered
The Atlanta City Council is considering another significant measure regarding the city’s impact on the environment. This one aims to boost the sustainability rankings of city-owned properties to a minimum of LEED Silver certification.
Atlanta’s existing city code requires all new buildings to be constructed in a manner that meets LEED Silver standards. The pending legislation raises the bar by requiring, among other things, that renovations of existing structures be completed to meet LEED Silver standards.
LEED is a green building certification devised by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The four certification levels, including Silver, are based on points awarded for various aspects
The measure pending approval in Atlanta is on the Tuesday agenda of the council’s Utilities Committee. If the committee approves the legislation, it will be eligible for passage by the full city council at its next meeting, May 15.
The measure aims to update the city’s code section on Sustainable Development Design Standards.
The proposal was issued by Stephanie Stuckey, Atlanta’s director of sustainability. It follows another significant policy update in regards to climate. Just last week, on May 1, the council approved legislation proposed by a mayoral candidate, Councilmember Kwanza Hall.
Hall’s non-binding resolution sets the aspirational goal of having all electricity consumed in Atlanta being generated by renewable resources by the year 2035.
Jennette Gayer, director of Environment Georgia, said the council’s passage of Hall’s resolution sets the stage for a discussion over ways to reduce the climate impact of mobility in Atlanta.
The city’s code section on Sustainable Development Design Standards was amended in its entirety in December 2003, according to a footnote. The pending legislation would surgically amend the code. The purpose is to bring the code into compliance with the Climate Action Plan the council enacted in 2015.
Some of the proposed amendments are fairly nuanced.
For example, a section that outlines the stated policies of the code eliminates a requirement that the city consider “solar access” when considering a land purchase. The “solar access” provision is replaced by one that requires, “renewable energy opportunities.”
Another proposed amendment speaks to the definition of a sustainable building.
The new definition of a sustainable building, “encompasses the following broad topics: energy use, water use, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, stormwater infiltration and the building energy management.”
This definition would replace the current version, which reads: “efficient management of energy and water resources, management of material resources and waste, protection of environmental quality, protection of health and indoor environmental quality, reinforcement of natural systems, and integrating the design approach.”
The pedigree attached to the paper shows it emanated from the office of the city’s sustainability director, Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, on April 13. The mayor’s office approved it the same day. The paper was accepted as a “walk-in paper” April 25 by the Utilities Committee, acting on a motion by Councilmember C.T. Martin. The Atlanta City Council voted May 1 to refer the paper to the Utilities Committee, where it will have its second and, possibly, final reading on Tuesday.