Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

Green vs Clean

August 16, 2010

1) Bottled Water vs. Tap Water. Myth: Bottled water is better for you. Fact: Bottled water is less regulated than tap water, and in a 2008 study by the Environmental Working Group, 38 contaminants were found in 10 of the top brands of bottled water. Also, plastic bottles leach harmful chemicals into the water. Finally, if you like things clean, then why add to the huge amount of plastic that exists in our oceans and landfills? That stuff is not going anywhere, and eventually it will show up on your beach and in your backyard. That’s pretty gross.
2) The Disinfection Obsession. Myth: Green cleaning products aren’t as effective as antibacterials. Fact: Unless you are a surgeon requiring a sterile environment, good old soap and water or even home made concoctions like vinegar and baking soda are just as effective cleaning agents as antibacterials – sans the side effects of toxic chemicals, indoor air pollution, and water pollution. These don’t sound so very clean to me.
3) Use and Toss. Myth: Single use products are more hygienic than reusable ones.  Fact: Actually, you can get a better clean from cloth towel than a paper towel, without the paper waste and mess. Cloth towels are more absorbent and stronger and therefore are more effective at getting the grime out of your kitchen. Use and wash is still better than use and toss, and if your mess is not a wet one, you can even reuse your cloth towel a few times before washing it, making it even more environmentally preferable to paper.
4) Kleenex vs. Handkerchief – I got nothin’ here – sorry, you won’t catch me blowing my nose over and over in the same hanky. Even I have my limits….but I am open to suggestions!
5) The Hippie Stigma. Myth: People who are passionate about the environment are tree-hugging hippies who don’t shave, wear deodorant, or shower regularly.  Fact: We are not in the 60’s anymore.

Green In Gwinnett Area: Keeping Gwinnett Green and Sustainable

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Gwinnett Business Growth and Sustainability BuGS Series

January 29, 2010

BuGS Series

Event Date:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 – 11:30am – 2:00pm

Location:

Gwinnett Chamber

Cost (members):

$20.00

Cost (non-members):

$35.00

Business Growth and Sustainability (BuGS) 2010
Presented by:

Energy Efficiency in your Business
Energy efficiency is typically one of the first places business look for savings.

Reducing your energy consumption saves money and reduces your carbon footprint, but what is the cost and how do you pay for it?  Is it worth the investment?

Teresa Newman – Energy and Environmental Solutions – Siemens

Wayne Robertson, PE, Leed AP – President – Energy Ace

Gail Edwards – Program Director – Gwinnett Technical College

Moderator:

Ben Taube – Executive Director – Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance

Date: February 9, 2010

Time: 11:30 – 2:00

Location: Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce

6500 Sugarloaf Parkway
Duluth, Georgia  30097

(For Directions Click HERE)

Register Here

Green In Gwinnett Area: Working to keep Gwinnett Green and Sustainable!

Gwinnett Indoor Gardening Tips

December 19, 2009

Here in Gwinnett there are many homes, townhomes, condos and apartments with limited outdoor space. However you can still do gardening indoors. The inside of your home has a controlled environment that is independent of the weather conditions outside. With indoor gardening, you still need to take ambient temperature, moisture, air circulation, and the availability of natural and artificial light sources into account. Try hanging plants or if you are creative you can experiment orchids, bamboo, and ferns.

Think Green In Gwinnett!

Gas or Charcoal BBQ and The Carbon Footprint…

November 8, 2009

Does that thing have a Hemi? (yes actually) (Please leave a comment)

hemi-powered-barbecue-grill

Have you ever thought about which is better for the environment when having a cookout? Gas or Charcoal?

The next time you are getting ready for the backyard football cookout, or any BBQ, take into consideration your carbon footprint and personal health. Here are a few tips:

Go for Gas. Lump charcoal is becoming increasingly available, but often comes from thousands of miles (or even multiple continents) away, which negates some of its carbon benefits(due to the output from transportation); until it’s readily available from local sources, the efficiency of gas wins out.

If you must use Charcoal:

-Avoid charcoal imported from distant places such as Indonesia that is likely to have come from endangered forests. —

-Look for locally sourced charcoal from a supplier that uses wood from sustainably managed forests.

-Don’t use lighter fluids made from gasoline derivatives which can leave harmful deposits on your food, instead try crumpled newspaper or kindling.

So next time your lil North Gwinnett Bulldog wants to grill out before a game, be sure to Think Green In Gwinnett Area GIGA

– James Chronicle

Thank You For Visiting.  Please take a moment to visit our Official Fundraiser for The American Cancer Society and Relay For Life:

Help Support The American Cancer Society’s Gwinnett Relay For Life. Visit HOPEinks
Create your account and choose our team “toners for life” and 10% of the purchase gets donated to Gwinnett Relay For Life.

Relay For Life and Print Green USA /HOPEinks.org Official Partners

Gwinnett. How To Make Your Lil Goblins Even More Green This Halloween!

October 31, 2009

 

Gwinnett: Did you know that Americans use more than 380 million plastic bags and more than 10 million paper bags every year. Plastic bags end up either in landfills or discarded in nature.  This waste then kills thousands of marine mammals annually, and when it eventually does break down, it contaminate our land and water which are our valuable resources.

Reusable bags are not only better for the environment at Halloween, they’re also better for our children. Paper and plastic bags can rip easily, spilling Halloween treats and we know that our kids don’t like that. Reusable bags are much more durable and practical!

When the little ghosts and goblins in your family go trick-or-treating this Halloween, make sure they carry reusable bags or containers that don’t need to be discarded after they are used.

Cloth or canvas shopping bags, or even pillowcases, make terrific eco-friendly alternatives to paper or plastic bags, or to the molded plastic jack-o-lanterns so many kids use to collect candy at Halloween.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this quick tip.  Our future depends on our choices today, our future is our children.

Think Green In Gwinnett Area!

~James Chronicle

Green In Gwinnett Area is located in Suwanee, Georgia.

BrandsMart USA Grand Opening of LEED Retail Store this Friday Aug 21st – Buford, Georgia

August 19, 2009

, an environmentally friendly store is having their Grand Opening in Gwinnett County this Friday, August 21st. I had the pleasure of touring the facility with Larry Levine who is the Vice President of Corporate Operations for BrandsMart. This store is the first Commercial LEED building in North Georgia. Beginning with the construction of the store and continuing through it’s daily operations the main focus has been to reduce negative impact on the environment and promote conservation.

During the construction phase, recycled materials were used as much as possible. The

floor tile, the sheet rock, even the concrete was poured using a minimal amount of raw materials. The store’s roof consists of white neoprene which reflects heat to reduce the amount of time the air conditioning runs. Each AC unit has it’s own compressor that dramatically reduces power needs and the condensation water from the units is recycled. On hot days this can result is as much as 150 gallons of water.

Lighting in the store is optimized by the implementation of large skylights, enabling the fluorescent lighting to be reduced. These skylights open, close and direct light for optimal efficiency. Sensors installed within store lighting automatically turn off the power as the sunlight increases. LED lighting is also used throughout the store. These produce far less heat (almost none), produce superior lighting, and use less electricity to operate. They also use these neat tubes to direct light into the store from the roof called “Sola Tubes”. You could use these same tubes in your home.

Outside the store the parking lot is white instead of black reducing the heat usually generated and allowing better control of the area’s climate. Additionally, less lighting is required at night because of the reflective surface. The plants surrounding the store are drought resistant and labeled so that customers can easily identify them. Once the plants have been established (estimated six months) irrigation will no longer be necessary. Rainwater will be channeled from the slight slope of the parking lot into a retention pond behind the store for future utilization. There is also a preserved wetland behind the store.

You will find trash containers along with recycle containers for employees and customer’s to recycle their sodas, etc!

In the near future, BrandsMart plans to have an educational program directed to children at the fourth grade level with the goal of educating them on sustainability. Great forward thinking!

The construction of this store and it’s operations are a credit to BrandsMart’s and Gwinnett County’s “green” point of view.

What is LEED?

LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Green In Gwinnett Area is a Gwinnett nonprofit located in Suwanee Georgia.

The new BrandsMart Store in Buford, GA is located at:

2918 Buford Dr

Buford, GA 30519-6538

(770) 932-1088

Our Green In Gwinnett Area (GIGA) organization’s mission is to help make Gwinnett County a healthier, more environmentally friendly and socially responsible place to live by becoming a valuable resource for the residents and businesses in our community. This GIGA site is a place to share our passion with others by collecting educational information, and providing a repository for eco-friendly resources and products. Together we can make Gwinnett Greener

James Chronicle

What is Sustainability? Green In Gwinnett Area

April 8, 2009

Bringing The Green Back To Gwinnett

Bringing The Green Back To Gwinnett

Sustainability, in a broad sense is the ability to maintain a specific process or state. Today however, it is most commonly used in reference to biological and human systems. In an ecological context, sustainability can be defined as the ability of an ecosystem to maintain ecological processes, functions, biodiversity and productivity into the future.

Sustainability has become a complex term that can be applied to almost every facet of life on Earth, particularly the many different levels of biological organization, such as; prairies, forests, and wetlands, and is expressed in human organization concepts, such as; eco-municipalities, sustainable cities, and human activities and disciplines, such as; sustainable agriculture, sustainable architecture and renewable energy. Many sustainable practices are being identified as “green” initiatives.  Terming this practice as “green” as we do with GIGA, Green In Gwinnett Area, stems from the forests and environments we are surrounded by.

For the human race to live sustainably or “green”, the Earth’s resources must be used at a rate at which they can be replenished. However, there is now clear scientific evidence that humanity is living unsustainably, and that an unprecedented collective effort is needed to return human use of natural resources to within sustainable limits.

Since the 1980s, the idea of human sustainability has become increasingly associated with the integration of economic, social and environmental spheres. In 1989, the World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) articulated what has now become a widely accepted definition of sustainability: “[to meet] the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  Simply put, we must put the needs of the future as a top priority when using resources.  You wouldn’t want your child or parents or anyone else in your family to suffer.  Our actions now directly impact our families in the future.

We currently have facilities in Gwinnett County such as the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center (Buford), Suwanee City Hall (Suwanee), and Brandsmart which is a commercial building in Buford, Georgia that are striving towards sustainability.  These facilities are all LEED facilities.  We hope to see more of these practices in other areas in Gwinnett County in the immediate future and your voice counts.  What counts more than your voice however, are your actions.

Do Those Laser Toners and Ink Cartridges Get Recycled? Not In Most Cases!

March 4, 2009

The first chapter into exploring my industry and the massive impact that it has on our environment.
Gwinnett! The following is a true account of this unethical field.
Green In Gwinnett Area GIGA encourages turning in your used laser toners and/or ink cartridges to be recycled. The are many programs available.

Print Green USA, Inc. located in Suwanee, GA has a program available to consumers.

Please email: recycle@printgreenga.com for details on how to recycle your laser toners or ink cartridges.

Please comment and I will explore your questions or your industry as well.

Lexmark and THE PREBATE:

Each quarter, Lexmark releases yet another financial statement reinforcing its “supplies-driven” profitability. It is making more dollars from the sale of cartridges than the sale of printers.

And how environmentally friendly are its programs?

Lexmark’s Prebate program (now known as its environmentally friendly “return” program) gives a discount at the time of sale if the customer agrees to return the cartridge to Lexmark, or at least agrees to not give it to a remanufacturer. So, a customer has already been rewarded for buying this “environmentally friendly” product, and any incentive to recycle it is long forgotten. When the cartridge is spent, the customer may find it inconvenient to return it to Lexmark. Still wanting to do the right thing, the customer attempts to sell or give it to a remanufacturer. The cartridge’s Prebate restrictions forbid its being remanufactured, so the preferable reuse option is foreclosed. Lexmark has testified in its lawsuit with Static Control Components that it gets back 50 percent of its Prebate cartridges, and that those cartridges are then remanufactured or recycled by Lexmark.

This begs the question: Are Lexmark’s recycling partners involved in legitimate recycling?

And what about the other 50 percent of the cartridges sold by Lexmark under the Prebate program?

They are condemned to landfills, as the Prebate restrictions mandate that they cannot be remanufactured by a third party. If a remanufacturer risks legal action by remanufacturing the Prebate cartridge, it runs into the chip problem. The chip acts as the enforcement device for the Prebate restrictions. It will determine if the cartridge has been remanufactured and will shut down the printer. Aftermarket chip solutions have been developed by several aftermarket vendors, one of whom has been sued by Lexmark for their ingenuity. Think Green Gwinnett! Start small, recycle, turn off the lights, recycle your laser toners…

To add even more insurance that the cartridge will not be remanufactured, Lexmark frequently changes the firmware in the printers through “upgrades” and during routine service maintenance. The firmware acts like a virus and renders many viable aftermarket solutions worthless.

Therefore, a Lexmark customer wanting to remanufacture the (return program) cartridge is frustrated at every turn. This is a classic bate and switch scheme.

So I beg all of you in Suwanee, Lawrenceville, Duluth, Norcross, Buford, Lilburn, Snellville, or any other area of Gwinnett County, please do the right thing and recycle your used laser toners and ink cartridges.

Stay tuned for another chapter in this tail…

Green In Gwinnett Area GIGA (Keeping Gwinnett Green and Sustainable)

and sponsor Print Green USA, Inc.

PrintGreenGA.COM

Gwinnett’s Green Generation

February 2, 2009

At a time when environmental issues are at the forefront it is critical that teachers integrate environmental education into their lessons. Children need to be given the skills, knowledge and resources necessary to positively impact the environment. There are many sources of information now available.

We are fortunate in Gwinnett County to have an effective and innovative program designed to enhance the available resources. Green In Gwinnett Area, better known as GIGA, founded by Gwinnett county resident James Chronicle, is designed, in part, to promote environmental consciousness. Area residents are encouraged to participate and support this endeavor. Information can be found by emailing giga@greeningwinnett.org. In addition, the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center offers programs and interactive exhibits for people of all ages, from pre-schoolers to senior citizens. It is a collaborative effort of the county’s board of Commissioners, public school system, The University of Georgia, and the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Foundation.

There are a multitude of websites available to promote environmental awareness. These websites can be accessed through search engines and many of them offer information geared to elementary age children. As a Suwanee resident and a Barrow County third grade teacher, I have used a website found on the National Education Association list called Eco-Bunnies. This site was designed to help students understand “carbon footprints” and how to reduce environmental impact. For more information, visit www.eco-bunnies.com/ Use EarthLab’s live calculator with your class and empower them to discover the amount of energy they use and ways to conserve. Suggestions such as energy saving light bulbs, developing conservation habits, and ways to recycle are outlined. Students can find their score and save it and return to see the positive impact they have affected through small changes in behavior.

There is a plethora of information available on the Internet to enable teachers to inform and educate their students, not to mention community based nonprofit organizations such as Green In Gwinnett Area GIGA. The future of the planet hangs in the balance. Teachers have a responsibility to ensure that they are promoting environmental awareness on a regular basis.

January 5, 2009

giganew12-copyCity of Suwanee: Preserving a Healthy Environment in the Face of Rapid Growth

Introduction.

Follows is a review of what one town in the Greater Atlanta Metropolitan
Area(GAMA) is doing to preserve its natural resources and mitigate air pollution while at
the same time improving quality of life for its citizens and preserving its small town feel
in the face of rapid growth and development. Many of the tools used by the City of
Suwanee to accomplish these tasks, including the massive Open Space Initiative and the
effective use of Planned Mixed-Use Developments, are ones that are also potentially
readily available to many other small towns within GAMA as well as without.
Borders and Connections. The City of Suwanee is located in northwestern Gwinnett
County. It is bordered by Buford to the northeast, Lawrenceville to the southeast, and
Duluth to the southwest. I-85 passes through the southeastern edge of the city where the
city abuts with Lawrenceville. This stretch of I-85 includes exit 111, approximately 30
miles from the center of Atlanta. Other major roadways passing through the City include
Lawrenceville-Suwanee/Suwanee-Dam Rd.(GA 317), Peachtree Industrial, McGinnis
Ferry Rd., and Buford Highway(US 23). One rail line, the Southern Railroad, passes
through the City, paralleling US 23 and Peachtree Industrial.

Ecological.

The Chattahoochee River passes just west of the western boarder of the City
of Suwanee with the Chattahoochee River Corridor extending into a small area of
Residential and Commercial zoning comprising about 4000 feet of that border. There are
several streams within the City, two of which, Bushy Creek and Suwanee Creek, are
tributaries to the Chattahoochee. There are no known occurrences of protected species
within the City. There are no other major natural resources within the city with the
exception of the following. The Georgia DNR has shown that Suwanee “contains
Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas that have, according to the Groundwater
Pollution Susceptibility Map of Georgia, a Low Susceptibility rating.”(1, “Natural
Resources”) The rating is based on the DRASTIC system, as laid out by the EPA, which
examines the hydrogeolgic settings of a given area and creates an overlay map indicating
areas susceptible to contamination (5). Lastly, Suwanee and Gwinnett Co. are a part of
the Atlanta Metropolitan AQCR, which is currently a non-attainment area for ozone. This
classification places restrictions on the expansion of roads and other structures that
contribute to the creation of ozone(smog) in the Atlanta area, as well as bars the receiving
of certain Federal funds.

Demographic.

The City of Suwanee comes from humble beginnings as a predominately
rural farm town with a population of only 615 in the early 1970’s. However, through the
70’s up until 1990 the population of Gwinnett Co. increased 388%, adding approximately
94,000 people between 1970-80 and 186,000 people from 1980-90. By 1998 (latest
Census estimate) the county had grown another 169,000 people. Suwanee’s own growth
has been exponential during this period, with a quadrupling of the population between
1990 and 2000, from 2,412 persons to 9,191. The 2007 estimate has the City at about
16,250 residents(2). A comparison of the growth rates reveals that while the Atlanta
Region has held steady at about 2.5% over the three decades and Gwinnett Co. has
actually slowly decreased from 8.7% to 5% from 1970 to 1990, Suwanee has seen nearly
a tripling of its growth rates over those same three decades (’70- 5.25%, ’80- 8.9%, ’90-
14%). In short, Suwanee has been growing fast.(1)
Current 2000 Census data shows the age distribution to be centered at 35-44 years of age
and weighted between approximately 50% of the population between the ages of 25 and
54. The vast majority of these are white (94% in 1990), with only about 4.4% black and
2% Asian. Almost half of the population of Suwanee in 1990 was at a high school
education or lower, 21% with some college but no degree, and a third of the population
having at least a College Associates degree. These numbers were, at the time, overall
worse than the County’s. Per capita income in 1990 was slightly below the County at
$17,300 and Median Household Income was well above the County’s at $48,750, with
income groupings evenly distributed.(1)

Projected Growth.

Total population is projected to grow to about 20,500 people and
8,000 households by 2020, with a sharp leveling off of growth after 2015. Long term
projections for 2030 have households at 11, 495 and the population between 30,000 and
32,500. Socioeconomic trends, including Median Household Income and education
levels, have also shown a strong improvement since the 1980’s and are projected to
continue. The current city average of about 3 persons per household, however, is not
projected to change much. This means much of the future growth of the City is expected
to be as large families rather than single adults.(2)
Land Use. The City of Suwanee’s land area currently totals 6,998 acres, or about 10
square miles, with the following breakdown. About 42% is Residential, with 95% of that
being Single-Family and the remaining being Multi-Family. Only about 6% of the land
was being used for Commercial, with the overwhelming majority of that being
commercial/retail. Light industry comprised approximately 10% of the land. Parks/
Recreation & Conservation lands were about 11.5% of the land use. Total undeveloped
acreage is currently 12% of the land area of the City. That is projected to ultimately be
reduced to 0% in the future.(2)

Problems the City Faces.

Space has become a very valuable commodity within the
small city due to its extremely rapid growth. One of the issues cited as being the leading
cause of urban sprawl in the Atlanta area is the fact that homeowners and developers have
always preferred large lot sizes, with upwards of an acre or more not entirely uncommon
for one household (Wes Rogers, Senior Environmental Planner, 3/14/2008). This problem
has especially impacted Suwanee as the town has seen much of its land occupied by lowdensity
subdivisions, with lot width minimums from 85 to 150 feet.
This leads to the number one challenge the City faces today: managing infill well. Infill is
the result of the rapid growth the I-85 corridor has experienced in the past several years.
“As growth has leap-frogged… up the I-85 corridor, in checkerboard fashion, spurred by
road and sewer extensions, urbanization has been a function of filling in the spaces left
between disparate development projects- basically a densification of the checkered-board
over time until all of the spaces are filled” (1, “Land Use”).
To make matters worse, since Suwanee is a part of the Atlanta area urban air quality basin
and since that area is currently in non-attainment for ozone emissions, Suwanee and
Greater Gwinnett County are both subject to federal regulations which, “impacts the
county’s road improvement program and its ability to add additional capacity to
regionally significant roads”(1, “Natural Resources”). Furthermore, the Atlanta Regional
Commission has been working on ways that local governments can help reduce air
pollution by reducing average trip miles, etc. These, together, put added pressure on the
City of Suwanee to “infill” smartly.

The Chattahoochee Corridor does not greatly affect the City, but is noteworthy. Related to
it are the many un-developable areas such as low-lying flood-zones and wetlands. There
is also some concern for the vast recharge area over which the city lies.

Finally, to tie all of these issues together and expand on them some, it is, in fact, the
Mayor and the City Council’s desire to make their city an environmentally pleasing and
pleasant place- if not for Mother Nature, at least for the human beings living there. This
includes everything from side walks and greenspace to matching street lamps along the
main thoroughfare into town. They also wish to reduce traffic through so-called “smart
planning,” or to put work, play, residence, and shopping all within readily accessible
distance of each other.

In short, the challenge faced by the City of Suwanee in recent years has been to infill the
remaining available space while at the same time preserving the city’s small-town feel,
improving pedestrian access and lowering traffic, and saving as many trees and green
open areas (for the purposes of aesthetics and the environment) as they realistically can.

Solutions and Other Actions.

Chattahoochee River Corridor & Tributaries.
The Chattahoochee River Corridor extends into a small portion of the western extreme of
the City and, overall, affects the City little. Nevertheless, this area is subject to regulation
under the Georgia Metropolitan River Protection Act and the River Corridor Plan and so
is not insignificant(1).
Per regulations there is required a 50 ft. non-disturbance buffer, a 100 ft. set back for all
development, and a 150 ft. setback for all impervious development within this corridor
(1). In addition, there are severe restrictions on land use within a 7 mi. radius of any
down stream municipal water intake plants. However, none currently exist near the City
and none are likely to ever be developed within this proximity(1). There is one last action
which the City was required to take as the commercially zoned section that occupies
much of the corridor/city overlap is developed. As a precaution to protect the
Chattahoochee from storm water runoff and river bank erosion, 6 acres of land of this lot
were slated to be preserved, undisturbed (Wes Rogers, 3/14/2008).
There is a further requirement of at least a 35 ft. non-disturbance buffer for all tributaries
of the Chattahoochee with an additional 35 ft. impervious surface setback(1). However,
this seems moot as current city stream-buffer ordinances require a 50 ft. non-disturbance
buffer with an additional 25 ft. set back for development for all streams within the City
(4).
Wetland Conservation/Utilization and the Greenway.
Per city ordinances, all wetlands within the city are subject to standard S. 404 permitting
under the Clean Water Act. However, there are no easily developable wetlands within the
city as those that do exist are flood-zones for streams and rivers. This posed a problem for
the City of Suwanee as it meant there was privately owned land within its boundaries
which could not be used by either its owners or the public at large. As a solution, the
green-minded Mayor of Suwanee decided 10 years or so ago that, rather than leaving all
of that land to just sit and waste away, he would like the City to buy it up and convert it to
greenways. The green-minded City Council agreed to the idea, and so in 2001 the City’s
award winning “Open Space Initiative” was begun. With this initiative the City took out a
$17.7 million bond and began the purchasing of land and developing of trails and parks.
One of the crowning achievements of this project has been the Suwanee Creek Greenway,
a project which also received State Recreation Grant funding. This greenway connects the
expansive George Pierce Park sports complex with the Town Center and preserves
several acres of flood-generated wetlands along the Suwanee Creek. Also, since the City
owns the lands, the project also prevents any issues with takings or zoning violations, as
well as circumvents having to deal with developers in the preservation of open space.
Finally, before taking out the bond the City held a vote, and its citizens agreed to take a
140% increase in property taxes in order to pay the bond back.
Air Quality.
“The City of Suwanee is also working toward improving air quality through coordination
and integration of land use and transportation, the encouragement of mixed use and
pedestrian friendly facilities, the support for a commuter rail station and building of the
necessary infrastructure for alternative modes of transportation.” (1, “Natural Resources:
Air Quality”)
These actions are covered in further detail below.
Coping with Growth: reducing traffic, managing density, and maintaining open space.
In 1998 a new Zoning Master Plan was created to cope with the growing pains of the city.
Of particular note in this new master plan was a new type of zone, the PMUD (Planned
Mixed Use Development). In short the objective of the City in creating this zoning type
was not to increase density but to make travel in the city more pedestrian friendly, make
daily life for the residents of the mixed-use zones easier, and reduce overall trip mileage,
all while preserving some open space as well. There are two types of PMUD: Mixed-Use
Village (MUV) and Mixed-Use Center (MUC). The difference is essentially that the
Village is predominantly residential and the Center is predominantly commercial or
industrial(offices). The goal of both is to put residents closer to their place of work and/or
shopping and at the same time provide open space for recreation. A full list of objectives
for PMUD zoned areas can be found in Section 510.A in Article V of the Zoning Master
Plan.(3)
In the 1998 zoning map there were 6 PMUD zoned regions within the city, each at
specific “Character Areas” per the 2020 Comprehensive Plan. The future land use
projections in the 2030 Comprehensive Plan shows these PMUD areas expanded, with
several new and broader overlay Character Areas. These new Character Areas are mainly
meant as a tool for organizing the City’s development plans, though some older areas
may have purpose beyond this. Follows is an explanation of the thinking behind the
creating of certain PMUD zoned Character Areas.
The goal of some of these Character Areas is to facilitate transition from existing
commercial or industrial areas to existing low-density neighborhoods within the minimal
space remaining between the two (the infill). One prime example of this is the area
around the Peachtree Industrial Boulevard (PIB) and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road
intersection. Here PMUD and multifamily housing are being used as transitions from the
heavily commercial PIB Corridor and single family uses to the north and Town Center
and Old Town to the south. Another particular PMUD zone, known as Suwanee Station,
was set in anticipation of a future commuter rail station for the City of Suwanee and also
serves as transition between light industry and single family areas. Most areas are set to
utilize both MUV and MUC together, though some are exclusively one or the other. Of
note in the only MUV-only area is the planned use of a conservation neighborhood, in
which a minimum of 50% of the area must be devoted to open space, due to the presence
of extensive flood-plains in the area. Also of note is that all Character Areas, for all types
of zoning, are designated low-medium density, with the exception of the Sims Lake/
Suwanee Gateway area near the I-85 interchange. It is slated for high density residential
development.(1, 2)
To go more in depth, as a part of the preservation of open space, all MUV areas are
required to have at least a ½ acre park within 500 ft. of the front door step of all housing
units and are required to preserve at least 20% of the gross area of the development as
open space. This often results in the transference of that land to either the City or, in some
cases, the home owners association for that neighborhood. Both areas carry extensive
regulations on the nature and use of driveways, alleys, and parking lots- mainly to the
effect of having them placed in the back of development and away from where their
traffic might disrupt traffic on the main streets. Sidewalks are mandatory and, to further
facilitate pedestrian traffic, several of the PMUD zones and broader Character Areas will
be interconnected via trails and greenways. Thus the City hopes to accomplish the task of
infilling its undeveloped areas without destroying its small town character or creating
traffic and air quality problems, while also better connecting the already developed areas
of town to one another.(1)

Funding.

Suwanee has 5 main sources of funding for its plans. The obvious first two are
local funding from the City’s own coffers and the State of Georgia. Other primary sources
of funding include the Open Space Bond, as discussed earlier. A SPLOST, passed in
2005, goes towards many of the City’s road maintenance, pedestrian development, and
city building maintenance projects. Finally, a TAD has been set up for the development/
re-development in the Suwanee Gateway Character Area. Occasionally money comes in
from Gwinnett County or the Georgia DOT.
Room for Improvement. The City of Suwanee was ranked as the #10 Small Town to
live in in the US in 2007 by Money Magazine. This is for good reason given all that the
City has done, is doing, and will do to improve the quality of life of its citizens in the face
Atlanta’s monstrous sprawl. But, that is not to say that there is not more the City could
do. The biggest thing the City could do to really push the environmental-shade of green is
to pass ordinances requiring Low Impact Development practices and Energy Star
efficiency standards for all new development and pushing for older developments to
retrofit parking lots and even replace conventional roofs with green roofs, etc.
The City’s Senior Environmental Planner, Wes Rogers, has himself, expressed a desire to
do things like put the lights in the Town Center park on solar power instead of leaving
them on the system, feeding off the nearby Buford dam. However, as Wes Rogers points
out, things like forcing LID design practices and putting up solar power panels, as green
as they might be environmentally, can often times be in conflict with that other shade of
green that developers and cities must pay so much attention to: money. As Wes pointed
out in a phone conversation, LID and energy efficiency practices are often not worth their
initial costs, which can be very high. This is because the developers often lease the
property, so that they are not the ones paying the electric and water bills; and because
impervious surface taxes are not very high, making benefits from reduced impervious
surface minimal to none. Furthermore, he points out that installing solar panels is not
very realistic if its own costs are going to be well above the actual savings on the electric
bill because it will not necessarily be very justifiable in the eyes of the citizens. In other
words, in a cost versus benefits analysis, justifying the more environmentally friendly
methods can often be a hard ticket to sell to developers and citizens if they are not
already on the City’s side as the comparison can often be heavily weighted on the side of
costs.
To make a LID ordinance more justifiable or simply to make LID practices more
appealing, the City could instate its own impervious surface tax. However it would
probably have to be fairly stiff and would possibly not get the support of the City’s
citizens. Alternatively, as an implied police power granted in the State Constitution, the
City could target the impervious surface tax to only people who go over a certain
percentage of impervious surface or towards commercial and industrial developers.
Subsequently, those developers making full or substantial implementation of LID
practices on their properties could have those properties completely exempt from said
tax. Of course this poses the issue of possibly reducing commerce in the area; but given
the City’s desirability from a residential stand point and how well it is connected to
Atlanta and the rest of Gwinnett County, this seems like it would be of little issue. The
real issue, for Suwanee, would be the fact that most of the city is already developed, with
those areas that are not developed already being under construction and potentially
beyond the point of being able to use LID technology without retrofitting.
Suwanee: A Model City? How applicable are Suwanee’s design practices to other small
towns in the Greater Atlanta Metropolitan Area(GAMA)? This is difficult to say as
Suwanee has some very important but unique characteristics. Easily the biggest and most
important of these is the City’s governing officials and its citizens. There are many towns
in the GAMA that certainly do have the connectivity that Suwanee does and do have the
natural beauty and appeal that Suwanee has. However, how many can claim to have a
governing body truly concerned with the preservation of open space, protection of
valuable natural resources, such as streams and wet lands, and desire to mitigate air
pollution, so much so that the governing body would be willing to even suggest more
than doubling property taxes and taking out a $17.7 million bond so as to pay for it all?
Then how many of those cities have citizens that would agree to it or even could agree to
it for it not being beyond their financial means?
Another important characteristic that really helps make the City’s PMUD zones work is
that fact that the town did develop in a haphazard manner, such that today all that is left
are the infill spaces. This characteristic of the City helps to make the PMUD designs the
obvious choice, not only for all the benefits already stated above, but also because they
allow for the preservation of property value in some areas that might have otherwise
suffered due to undesirable locals- i.e. next to light manufacturing plants.
Nevertheless, it is certainly possible for many of the ideas implemented in Suwanee to be
applied to other towns. Even in areas where the demographic is not affluent enough to be
able to afford such things as Suwanee’s Open Space Initiative, the plan could still be
applied if support from federal, state, and/or county governments could be garnered.
Mixed-use developments, while they make more sense for a town that is in the “infill”
stage, could easily be applied anywhere. They could even be used as a tool to help boost
land values and desirability in up-and-coming small towns as the Mixed-Use areas of
Suwanee are definitely a part of what makes the town so attractive today.
Conclusion. As the City of Suwanee faces another doubling of its current day population
by year 2030 and a dwindling of its land available for development, it has been pressured
to preserve its small town feel, its natural beauty, and its clean air all while comfortably
fitting in the extra 15,000 residents. Through the support of its citizens in proceeding with
the Open Space Initiative and in the smart use of Mixed-Use zoning the City appears to
be well on the way to accomplishing that task, 20 years ahead of schedule. While there
are still areas for improvement in deepening the City’s environmental shade of green,
things like a new LEED certified City Hall and a strong will to preserve greenspace and
reduce air pollution make it hard for one to argue the point.

References
1. City of Suwanee City Council. 2000. A Comprehensive Plan to the Year 2020. City of
Suwanee, GA. Available online at: http://www.suwanee.com/
economicdevelopment.reportsregulations.year2020.php. Accessed 3/1/2008.
2. City of Suwanee City Council. 2008. Draft of the 2030 Comprehensive Plan. City of
Suwanee, GA. Available online at: http://suwanee.com/compplandraft.php. Accessed
5/8/2008.
3. City of Suwanee City Council. 1998. Zoning Ordinance. City of Suwanee, GA.
Available online at: http://www.suwanee.com/
economicdevelopment.reportsregulations.php. Accessed 3/1/2008.
4. City of Suwanee City Council. 2006. City of Suwanee Stream Buffer Protection
Ordinance. City of Suwanee, GA. Available online at: http://www.suwanee.com/
economicdevelopment.reportsregulations.other.php. Accessed 3/21/2008.
5. DRASTIC: A Standardized System for Evaluating Ground Water Pollution Potential
Using Hydrogeologic Settings. EPA #600287035. 1987. Available online at: http://
nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPURL.cgi?Dockey=20007KU4.txt. Accessed 12/29/2008.