Cities now are jumping on the bandwagon and changing things so they can be classified as a “clean city.” Several cities have gone to great measures to help them become more economically friendly. For example, Kansas City, Mo., is well on its way to a green future with the guidance of Kelly Gilbert, the Kansas City Clean Cities Coalition director. Although she has only had this job for a few months, she is off to an exceptional start. She has spearheaded an ambitious proposal that led to a $15 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act award. This grant provides the funding for the installation of 27 alternative fueling stations as well as the development of about 350 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. Along with 17 partners, she created the Midwest Region Alternative Fuels Project.
Another city showing great success is Grand Ledge, Mich. The GLACC (Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities) is reducing local petroleum consumption by engaging local school district bus fleets. Since 2007, they have been promoting their Clean the Air for School Kids program, which informs local school districts about school bus emission and encourages them to reduce school bus idle time, use cleaner fuels and install emission solutions. They have also worked with the statewide school bus company to eplace older buses with cleaner, more efficient buses and to install emission solutions on nearly 300 buses that carry 10,000 special education students and 5,000 general education students daily. This accomplishment earned GLACC more than $1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to expand the program given by the Environmental Protection Agency National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program. For the 2010-2011 school year, this program advanced further by replacing even more buses.
A less intense way in which cities are trying to help go toward a green future is by campaigning. In San Francisco, the American Lung Association and San Francisco Clean Cities partnered together to conduct a three-month idle reduction campaign at six area elementary schools. Idling contributes to outdoor air pollution, is linked to increases in indoor air pollution, stunts children’s lung developments and also wastes fuel. The goals of this campaign, called “Turn Off Your Engines: Idling Wastes Money and Hurts Children,” were to inform drivers about the costs of idling in school zones and to persuade them to change their behavior. With permission, representatives observed driver behavior at each site for 36 hours over a two-week period. They timed how long drivers idled their vehicles and compiled vehicle make and type data. One out of every four drivers idled for more than 30 seconds, while some idled foras long as 10 minutes. The next week, they created fl yers and passed them out with facts about idling, such as idling for 10 minutes a day wastes about $200 worth of fuel a year. This project might not be as big as the one in Kansas City but informing the public of certain dangers of everyday things can help lead a city to becoming “clean.”
Knoxville was recently ranked by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America as the fourth worst city in the United States for asthmatics. Events to help the community raise awareness about air quality issues are critical to this region due to the statistics. For the past seven years, the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition has hosted the Run for Clean Air in Knoxville. The participants enjoy a live band, food, prizes and the opportunity to drive and ride in hybrid vehicles.
In the city of Bristol, officials accepted the green challenge and began efforts to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and overall environmental impact in order to create a more livable and responsible community. Bristol understands that “Going Green” is a continual process. Each year, Bristol commits to being more environmentally responsible and pledges to help make the process easy for the public to embrace as well. Bristol has developed a “Going Green” website, which contains a collection of resources and information from the world’s leading environmental experts to help others start their own green lifestyle. The Bristol organizers emphasize that the program helps ensure a safe and beautiful community for generations to come.
In Gatlinburg, the Chamber of Commerce initiated a voluntary program for businesses working to reduce their environmental impact to preserve the natural beauty of this tourism center. Businesses receive information on products and actions to help them achieve green goals. In addition, the city uses biodiesel for its trolleys and LED lights for its holiday display.
Another city heavily involved in becoming greener is Nashville. Nashville created the Green Ribbon Committee, with its goal to become the greenest city in the Southeast. Award-winning Metro Parks Nature Centers work to increase environmental education and outdoor recreation areas. Pervasive programs are cropping up to take Tennessee into a greener future, including Adopt-a-Highway, TVA’s environmental partnerships, Tennessee’s Biofuels Initiative and land acquisition for further development of Tennessee parks.