Posted inLatest News

Two panel discussions — one on race and the other on the environment — provide hope

By Maria Saporta

This past week, I was able to moderate two different panel discussions — one on race relations and the other on the environment — and both left me optimistic with where we’re headed as a nation and a state.

The race relations panel at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta was part of the week-long Trumpet Awards, one of the most highly regarded awards programs for African Americans that was founded by our own Xernona Clayton.

Posted inATL Business Chronicle

Column: Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation signs 50-year lease for Rhodes Hall

By Maria Saporta
Friday, October 28, 2011

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation has preserved its own home for the next five decades.

“We just signed a new 50-year lease with the state of Georgia for Rhodes Hall,” said Mark McDonald, president and CEO of the Georgia Trust. “We have been here since 1983, but we hadn’t had a lease for the last three years.”

Rhodes Hall was built in 1904 as the original residence of Rhodes Furniture founder Amos Rhodes at 1516 Peachtree St. in Midtown. Today, it is a historic house museum that doubles as the headquarters for the Georgia Trust.

Posted inMaria's Metro

Leadership changes underway at many environmental groups in metro Atlanta and Georgia

In the past several months, there has been a tremendous turnover in a host of environmental organizations in Atlanta and Georgia — and it’s not over yet.

The change is bringing several new faces on the scene, and at the same time, it helps shed spotlight a whole new generation of leaders.

For example, Mark Abner has recently become the state director of the Nature Conservancy. Abner, a Georgia native, has spent the better part of two decades outside the state, most recently working for the Nature Conservancy in the Washington, D.C. area.

Posted inGuest Column

Best in Class: Georgia’s Weatherization Assistance Program ranks in Top 10

By Guest Columnist KEVIN CLARK, executive director of the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, the state’s lead agency for energy programs

Joyce Bozeman’s three-bedroom home, built in 1953 in Atlanta’s Sylvan Hills neighborhood, is still standing strong, a testament to the quality and workmanship often found in older homes.

But she found that her 58-year-old home wasn’t energy efficient enough to keep a comfortable temperature year-round, which is an important factor in maintaining her health.

Posted inATL Business Chronicle

Column: Fox Theatre helping save other Georgia landmarks

By Maria Saporta
Friday, August 12, 2011

In less than 40 years, Atlanta’s Fox Theatre went from being on the verge of demolition to becoming one of the most successful venues in the world.

And in those intervening years, the 1929 theatrical landmark has been restored and preserved — creating an economic anchor on Peachtree Street with more than 300 bookings a year.

Because of its remarkable success, its board — Atlanta Landmarks Inc. — wanted to share its knowledge of theater restoration and business operations with other venues across the state.

The Fox Theatre Institute was born in 2008. Since then, The Fox has provided

Posted inLatest News

Suzanne Burnes to be new director of Sustainable Atlanta

By Maria Saporta

The City of Atlanta has big plans to make Atlanta more sustainable.

But those plans have been on a slow burner because of a transition in leadership in two key organizations — the City of Atlanta and a related non-profit entity.

That is about to change.

Sustainable Atlanta, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing policies and programs to improve the sustainability of our city, has just hired a new executive director.

Suzanne Burnes, a veteran in environmental circles, will become Sustainable Atlanta’s new executive director on June 1.

Posted inDavid Pendered

Light turnout shows one challenge of transportation sales tax campaign – Public interest

By David Pendered

Heather Alhadeff glanced at the half-empty room and asked the obvious question no one had raised.

“Where is everyone? I thought there would be standing room only,” said Alhadeff, a transportation planner with Perkins + Will.

About 40 folks had gathered Friday morning for a Southface program about pedestrian safety near transit stops. The light turnout does not bode well as the region shapes a debate on all forms of mobility in advance of the 2012 vote on a penny sales tax for transportation improvements.

Posted inATL Business Chronicle

Column: Trees Atlanta founding director Marcia Bansley retiring

By Maria Saporta
Friday, April 1, 2011

For 26 years, the No. 1 advocate for Atlanta’s trees has been Marcia Bansley.

As a tree’s age can be measured in rings, Bansley’s tenure as the founding executive director of Trees Atlanta can be measured in trees. Under her leadership, Trees Atlanta has planted or distributed 81,000 trees.

Now Bansley has decided to retire, effective in mid-May, when she intends to begin studying architecture. She will join Trees Atlanta’s board.

Filling in as interim director will be Connie Veates, a past president of Trees Atlanta’s board.

Posted inMaria's Metro

New urbanists descending on Atlanta this week, sharing their insights on healthy cities

If Atlanta feels a bit more flush with lofy ideas this week, credit the Congress for the New Urbanism.

The 18th annual meeting of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU18) will bring more than 1,000 architects, planners and related professionals to Atlanta from Wednesday through Saturday.

The theme of CNU18 is “New Urbanism: Rx for Healthy Places.”

Two of Atlanta’s bright lights — Georgia Tech professor Ellen Dunham-Jones and architect Laura Heery Prozes — have been the local organizers of CNU18. They have explored every avenue to find ways for the Atlanta region to benefit from this influx of urban leaders.

They are partnering with a host of local organizations — from Central Atlanta Progress, the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta

Posted inATL Business Chronicle

Atlanta leaders study policy issues in Phoenix

By Maria Saporta
Friday, May 7, 2010

Metro Atlanta leaders during the recent LINK trip to Phoenix pledged to do all they could to make sure the region passes a sales tax for transportation in 2012.

(see below for list of attendees)

The group of 100-plus leaders, in Phoenix for three days of intensive exposure to the Arizona city’s challenges, said they now have something concrete in which to direct their energies.

Posted inLatest News

Arizona leading the way in solar; Georgia far behind

By Maria Saporta

Is Georgia, especially metro Atlanta, losing out economically by not promoting renewable energies?

The recent LINK trip to Phoenix by 100-plus of Atlanta’s top regional leaders made the answer seem obvious. Yes.

The Greater Phoenix area, by comparison, has seized on renewable energy technologies — solar in particular — as providing a promising path for future economic development.

Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said Arizona has passed renewable solar incentives and is encouraging the development of solar technologies and applications.

Posted inLatest News

Fast-growing Phoenix, like Atlanta, slows to a halt

By Maria Saporta

Back in 1950, Phoenix was the 57th largest metro area in the country. But six decades of growth have made Phoenix the 12th largest metro area in the United States, not far behind Atlanta, which ranks as 9th.

After World War II, several electronics firms moved their operations to the Phoenix area, creating a strong manufacturing base. Then the growth started coming along with a housing boom that helped make the Arizona city one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country.

Not so long ago , Phoenix was the second fastest growing metro area in the country. And then the economic downturn of the last couple of years

Posted inGuest Column

Renewable energy is all about jobs, jobs, jobs

By Guest Columnist BETH BOND, editor and managing partner of Southeast Green.

There is a vortex of activity revolving around renewable energy here in the state of Georgia. Can you feel it?

These past couple of weeks have been monumental for Atlanta. We had two of the leading minds on carbon and renewable energy in the country, if not the world, speak separately and yet with the same voice several times to local audiences.

Who were they? Dr. Richard Sandor the chairman of the Chicago Climate Exchange; and Jigar Shah the chief executive director of the Carbon War Room, a non-profit started by Sir Richard Branson to help produce solutions for businesses that are interested in reducing

Posted inGuest Column

Surprisingly, Georgia leads the way in green affordable housing

By Guest Columnist DENNIS CREECH,
executive director of the Southface Energy Institute

Did you know that Georgia leads the nation in green affordable housing?

Just last week, Global Green USA released its fifth green building rating summary of state qualified allocation plans (QAP) which guide the annual distribution of federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) – a vital program that encourages developers to build affordable housing. And yet again, Georgia ranks at the top of the list, tied for first place with Connecticut!

Because of the outstanding efforts of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which is responsible for establishing the QAP for Georgia, our state has ranked at the top of the Global Green list for the past five years.

Posted inLatest News

Georgia and Atlanta moving towards transit, inch by inch

By Jeanne Bonner

Hope tinged with realism marked Friday’s Sustainable Roundtable on the future of transit in Atlanta held at All Saints Episcopal Church in Midtown.

Or was it realism softened ever so slightly by a bit of a hope?

Speakers Erik Steavens, director of the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Intermodal Programs, and Lee Biola, president of Citizens For Progressive Transit, sketched out the current status of transit in Atlanta and Georgia.

They both made a case for why one

Posted inMaria's Metro

A special thanksgiving to all our heroes who dedicate their lives to enhancing Atlanta

Our community is full of heroes who dedicate their lives to making Atlanta a better place to live.

As we give thanks this week, I would like to thank all our local heroes.

The abundance of great community leaders really hit home this past week.

It began with the induction of a new shining light — Bill Bolling, founder and executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank for 30 years. On Monday, Bolling received the Shining Light Award from Atlanta Gas Light and WSB-Radio — placed nostalgically on Peachtree Street in front of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

Then on Thursday, Progressive Redevelopment Inc. — one of

Posted inATL Business Chronicle

Column: World must choose ‘fast green’ or ‘slow brown’

By Maria Saporta
Friday, August 21, 2009

The economy is experiencing a “global reset,” according to Peter Evans, director of Global Strategy and Planning for Atlanta-based GE Energy.

During this global reset, American businesses have a choice to lead a “fast green growth” world or follow a “slow brown” strategy.

Evans shared that message at a New Sustainable

Posted inMaria's Metro

Minneapolis-St. Paul is this year’s place to link metro Atlanta’s topleaders

The metro area of Minneapolis-St. Paul will be the site of this year’s LINK trip.

LINK — Leadership. Involvement. Networking. Knowledge — is in its 13th year of taking top metro Atlanta leaders to a different city to learn best practices as well as failed initiatives in other communities.

The LINK trips prove especially valuable in forging regional ties between government, business and civic leaders.

Minneapolis-St. Paul will help Atlantans understand how a cold Midwestern city remains one of the strongest Fortune 500 metro areas in the country. With 19 Fortune 500 firms based in the seven-county region, Minneapolis-St. Paul focuses its

Posted inLatest News

Edward Mazria: Making our homes more energy efficient can bring back the housing industry

Every year, Atlanta hosts a conference called “Greenprints” to provide the latest thoughts on planning, architecture, construction and the use of natural resources.

The conference, which is put on by Southface and the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, brings togther the latest technology on green buildings as well as the people who are working to make our communities more sustainable.

The attendance at this year’s two-day conference (March 25-26) is not as great as in the last few years, but Southface executive director, Dennis Creech, was appreciative of the 300 people who