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Chattanooga achieved its energy saving goals well in advance of its Better Buildings Challenge deadline. Now the city is set to take another significant step in its environmental journey, signing on to participate in the DOE’s Better Climate Challenge. As part of the challenge, the city is committing to a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an additional 20 percent in energy use across its building portfolio by 2033.
The city released a Climate Action Plan in March that outlines how the city intends to accomplish long-term environmental goals, which include achieving net-zero carbon emissions in city government operations by 2040 and city-wide by 2050, as well building a more sustainable city through updating zoning policies.
One important step is dedicating more staff to the efforts. Within the city’s Department of Planning is an Office of Sustainability including two full-time employees, one of which is Schmidt, who is the director of sustainability, as well as an Internal Climate Action Plan Implementation Committee, which consists of staff from across other city departments.
“We’re ramping this up to be a more holistic approach,” Schmidt says. “The energy piece is a huge piece of it, but it’s just one piece in a way. The mayor wants to infuse sustainability across all departments, so a big part of this climate plan is to build an internal implementation team that will have representation by all our departments and divisions.”
City projects currently underway according to the climate plan include:
Chattanooga has received plenty of accolades for its transformation, and its association with the Better Buildings Challenge has help shined a spotlight on the city, playing a role in its reputation as a great place to live and as a leading U.S. city for energy saving and sustainability. But Schmidt is quick to praise those who work behind-the-scenes to make it all happen, the facilities leaders like Heinzer and their staff, for their efforts.
“The facilities staff, they are the unsung heroes,” Schmidt says. “If we ever lose those guys, I don’t know what we’re going to do. We need to be doing energy projects not just for the sake of doing energy projects, we need to be accomplishing something, and those needs are best identified by facilities people.”
Dave Lubach is executive editor for the facilities market. He has eight years of experience covering facilities management and maintenance.
Chattanooga Lays Out Plan for Sustainable Future