Huntsville addresses environmental, sustainability issues in new report

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The Huntsville Environmental Sustainability Committee this week released its findings from 9 months of research. (Hville Blast)

This week, the Huntsville Environmental Sustainability Committee released findings and recommendations on how to make Huntsville more sustainable. The results of nearly a year of research shows the city has made lots of progress and has even more to accomplish.

Here’s what the committee found:

Creating a more sustainable Huntsville

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Huntsville is successfully addressing its environmental impacts, Mayor Tommy Battle said. (Hville Blast)

Mayor Tommy Battle, said this ongoing sustainability commitment means Huntsville is successfully addressing its environmental, social and economic impacts through urban planning, city management and community involvement.

After nine months of research and public input, the Huntsville Environmental Sustainability Committee released its report during a news conference at Big Spring Park East.

Led by Marie Bostick, executive director of the Land Trust of North Alabama; Michelle Jordan, executive director of TARCOG; and Jim Bolte, civic leader and retired executive with Toyota Motor Manufacturing, HESC tackled their assignment by organizing into five subgroups based on each member’s area of expertise.

The specific categories include Transportation, Built Environment, Energy, Food Security and Natural Environment. Environmental Justice was also recognized by the committee as an integral part of the sustainability conversation and is addressed within each category.

“I am immensely proud of the work by this committee and for their passion, expertise and commitment. This is a complex area, and they have provided us with a thoughtful analysis, clear goals and realistic recommendations for the future.”

Mayor Tommy Battle

The HESC report will provide a framework for the City of Huntsville’s future sustainability efforts. Battle said the city will keep these goals and recommendations top of mind in its day-to-day decision making.

The committee’s recommendations

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The HESC said the city needs to be more intentional in its efforts to dedicate and share resources. (Hville Blast)

In their research, HESC explored what Huntsville has accomplished since its Green 13 initiative in 2010. They conducted public surveys and input sessions, interviewed municipal employees and corporations and determined key areas of focus, goals and recommendations.

“We discovered a number of efforts already occurring that were not well-known across the sectors. We want to build on the initiatives that exist, and we don’t want to miss opportunities because of a lack of knowledge or cross-collaboration.”

Marie Bostick, HESC co-chair

Bostick pointed to the committee’s recommendation in Built Environment to create greater density in urban areas (a smaller footprint and more vertical structures) and the recommendation in Food Security to incorporate agricultural land in urban areas for locally sourced food.

She added that the city can have greater density and provide open space for community gardens, and that the city needs to be more intentional in its efforts to dedicate and share resources.

Jim Bolte said cross-collaboration is central in maximizing the impacts and benefits of environmental sustainability.

“It’s easy for everyone to get so involved in their day-to-day work that we fail to see synergies that are readily available. We want to create processes so that someone working in water pollution management can regularly cross-pollinate with workers in energy production. Imagine the new possibilities and solutions that will come from these alliances.”

Jim Bolte, HESC Co-Chair and retired president of Toyota Alabama

Based on recommendations by the committee, Battle announced he will establish a Sustainability Commission that will work to advance Huntsville’s established environmental goals by measuring and monitoring sustainability across the city.

“Respecting and caring for our natural resources is essential for Huntsville to achieve a net-zero footprint. Reducing costs and creating an affordable, equitable and vibrant culture for citizens are equally important, and we’re continuing our commitment to do so through planned infrastructure, expansion of public parks and green spaces, smart waste removal and more.”

Mayor Tommy Battle

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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