Thursday, April 6, 2017

Cities going green: It's becoming a way of life

Sustainability is a term we hear a lot these days, but what exactly does it mean?

According to several city staff members around the state, sustainability can have many definitions depending on a community's unique environment. The April issue of Uptown features interviews with city officials in Columbia, Kiawah Island, Bluffton and Summerville talking about their perspectives on the meaning of sustainability.

The focus of April's special section in Uptown is all about sustainability and environmental issues.

The General Assembly hotly debated several bills this session that have home rule implications. One bill would have removed city control over banning plastic bags. In an interesting alliance among several often competing interests, the bill has been defeated for the year. Legislators took to the floor warning the bill would impede local councils from doing what their residents and business owners wanted. Both Folly Beach and Isle of Palms had already taken action to ban some types of plastic bags after encouragement from the local business community.

Solar panels are no longer just an experimental source of electricity. They are becoming more widespread for residential and commercial use. The S.C. Energy Office is taking the lead to educate homeowners, business owners and local governments about what to look for when considering the economic implications of solar panels.
Rendering of new Kiawah Island Town Hall
Green buildings are no longer a thing of the future. Many South Carolina cities are taking steps to not only ensure new and old buildings alike will be as safe as possible for the environment but also save money for the city. From bike-friendly design and low-flood plumbing fixtures and special roofing materials to repurposing existing buildings, Kiawah, North Charleston, Sullivan's Island, Cayce and Greenwood have stepped up to the green challenge.

There's a lot we can learn from our neighboring states. Georgia and North Carolina have many examples of environmentally friendly practices in their cities and towns including innovative "green" programs, the Better Building Challenge, new development codes and partnerships to encourage urban gardening.

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