APRIL 2009



Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center

April 2009


Acknowledgements The authors wish to thank Mandy Schmitt and Heather Alhadeff of the City of Atlanta, Dick Field of Athens-Clark County, Jennifer Payne and Rachel Smithson of the City of Savannah, and Kevin Burke of the Atlanta Beltline Initiative for their expert help in putting together this Green, Shovel Ready report. Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center bears responsibility for any factual errors. The recommendations are those of Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center and do not necessarily reflect the views of those who provided editorial review or the funders of Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center. Copyright 2009 Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center is a 501 (c)(3) organization. It is dedicated to protecting Georgia’s air, water and green spaces. It investigates problems, crafts solutions, educates the public and decisions-makers, and helps Georgians make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of the environment and people’s lives. For more information about Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center or for additional copies of this report, please visit


Table of Contents
Executive Summary Introduction What a Green Recovery Package means for Georgians Green and shovel ready projects Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) City of Atlanta Athens-Clark County City of Savannah Recommendations Conclusions 7 8 8 6-12 6-7 7-9 9-10 11-12 14 14



Green and shovel ready.

Executive Summary

Georgia’s reliance on dirty energy is fueling global warming, harming our health, threatening our security, and stalling our economy. Burning coal, oil and gas for energy and transportation is responsible for 80 percent of U.S. global warming pollution and most of our smog and soot pollution. We can protect our environment and strengthen our economy by investing in clean energy and green infrastructure. If implemented effectively, the green economic recovery plan recently passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama would mean less global warming pollution, fewer asthma attacks induced by air pollution and cleaner lakes and rivers for drinking water, swimming and fishing. It would also provide more sustainable energy in the long term, and create more jobs in the short term than investing in the dirty energy technologies of the past. President Obama has pledged to make clean energy and green infrastructure a cornerstone of America’s economic recovery. In his first radio address of 2009, the then president-elect said that “to put people back to work today and reduce our dependence on foreign oil tomorrow, we will double renewable energy production and renovate public buildings to make them more energy efficient.” This report provides specific green, shovel-ready proj-

ects around Georgia that support the president’s vision for a green economic recovery and, where possible, estimates the environmental and economic benefits of those proposed projects. These proposals, once fully implemented, would reduce annual global warming pollution and reduce oil and coal consumption. These proposals would begin the transition in Georgia to a clean energy economy and put thousands of people to work. The following measures represent green, shovel ready initiatives that cities across Georgia have proposed:

Renewable energy will be a critical piece of Georgia’s energy future. Georgia’s current energy portfolio relies heavily on coal power, which pollutes our air and water and leads to serious health problems that are expensive to treat. Two of the top three dirtiest coal power plants in the nation—Plant Sherer and Plant Bowen—are in Georgia . This over-reliance on coal has led to a 20 percent increase in CO2 in the past five years , an increase matched only in Texas. Currently, only 4.4 percent of the energy produced in Georgia comes from renewable resources, while the national average is 9.5 percent . Georgia can upgrade its energy portfolio with investment in clean technology like the following:


Renewable Energy Projects:
• Solar panels and solar water heaters in public buildings in Athens and Atlanta; • Solar panels on Marietta public schools; and • Hydro and solar power in Atlanta’s park system.

• Bike trail creation around Metro Atlanta; • Biodiesel conversion of Athens’ public transit fleet; and • Replacement of old public vehicles in Savannah with hybrid vehicles. These and other proposed green, shovel ready projects, if executed through federal investment, would have significant environmental and economic impacts for Georgia. By implementing a green economic recovery, our state has an unprecedented opportunity on three fronts: 1. Putting Georgia on a path to avert the climate change crisis; 2. Providing a massive stimulus to the economy and putting thousands of Georgians to work in quality, local jobs; 3. Invigorating Georgia’s economy as we lead our state to a clean energy future. This report surveys the proposals of three Georgia cities and counties and provides a set of recommendations to best accomplish a green recovery, based on research and conversations with various community officials. Environmental, employment and fiscal impacts are assessed where possible based on previously conducted studies, in addition to primary and secondary research.

Georgia has great potential to be more energy efficient, which is a cost-effective and environmental way to essentially increase our energy output by making more of the energy that we already use. Right now, the average Georgia home uses 5,800 kilowatt hours of electricity every year; the national average is 4,594 kilowatt hours annually . In a 2008 energy efficiency ranking, Georgia came in 36th place . Georgia can improve its average with simple, energy saving retrofits. Recovery dollars will help this initiative by funding the following projects:

Energy Efficient Projects
• Retrofitting of public building in Athens, Atlanta and Savannah; and • Weatherization of low-income homes statewide.

Georgia’s public transit infrastructure is lagging behind the rest of the country. In many cities cars are the number one producer of smog and ozone. Over 3.2 million Georgians live in areas where ozone pollution and smog make the air unsafe to breathe. Poor public transit infrastructure also impacts our quality of life, with more time spent stuck in traffic rather than at home with the family. In the last eight years, the amount of time an average Atlantan spends sitting in traffic has more than doubled—to 53 hours per year, up from 25 hours in 1992. Georgia must act quickly for better public transit infrastructure to improve our air, our health, and our way of life. • Streetcar lines in Atlanta’s busy downtown; • Increased funding for Athens Transit System (ATS);


What a green recovery package means for Georgians
A large amount of the money coming to Georgia from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is to be used to create jobs by improving mass transit, energy efficiency and the use of clean energy. GDOT is receiving $143.6 million for Transit Formula Funding, which will fund public transit projects. Through the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA), ARRA will also give $82.3 million to the State Energy Program and $124.7 million to the Weatherization Assistance Program, which will be used to help develop clean and efficient energy . In comparison, these programs received $700,000 and $2.9 million from the Department of Energy (DOE) respectively in 2008. An additional $67 million for energy efficiency block grants will be split between larger communities in Georgia and GEFA for distribution to smaller communities. Cities, counties and municipalities across Georgia are getting ready with many exciting proposals to put ARRA money to work right away. These green, shovel ready projects will be underway within 120 days of receiving authorization. Energy efficiency, renewable energy, and public transit projects will get Georgia back to work.

home and serious energy savings—for every dollar spent on weatherization the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA), estimates that $1.41 is saved in reduced energy costs . The efficiency gained from retrofitting also reduces carbon emissions by one metric ton per house, per year. Additionally, weatherization creates about fifty-two jobs for every $1 million invested . In comparison, Power 4 Georgians, a coalition of utility companies, has proposed a coal plant in Washington County. Their website promises .5 jobs per million invested and many of these jobs would be temporary construction jobs. In Georgia, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is administered through GEFA which provides financing and other support for the state of Georgia’s energy and environment infrastructure projects. With its 2008 budget of a little under $8 million, GEFA was able to retrofit 2,467 homes last year, reducing energy demand in Georgia . Economic recovery dollars will have a large impact on this fund. In 2009, GEFA’s Weatherization budget will receive over $124 million from ARRA funds (compared to $2.9 million from DOE in 2008). The funds will be used to administer the program, provide training to the weatherization work force and retrofit homes . New rules allow weatherization crews to spend up to $6500 per house, up from last year’s $2,966. The increased spending will mean increased energy savings and even lower energy bills for beneficiaries. With increased funding GEFA estimates they will be able to retrofit 13,600 homes for an estimated energy savings of $81.6 million for the lifetime of the homes served and a reduction of 13,600 metric tons of carbon emissions . GEFA estimates that they will spend 10% of their ARRA money on administering the program and $21.8 million on training and tech assistance. The remaining $92 million would be spent on weatherization . For every million spent on weatherization GEFA estimates that 52 jobs are created, meaning 4,784 jobs created in communities around Georgia .

Green, shovel ready projects

Statewide Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) “To accelerate the creation of a clean energy economy...we’ll save taxpayers $2 billion a year by making 75 percent of federal buildings more energy efficient, and save the average working family $350 on their energy bills by weatherizing 2.5 million homes” -President Barack Obama, January 24, 2009

Statewide: Weatherization
The Weatherization Assistance Program retrofits homes of low-income families to be more energy efficient. Weatherization is accomplished through simple steps such as adding new insulation, replacing doors and windows, sealing cracks and leaks, and upgrading heating and cooling systems. For beneficiaries, the weatherization program means a more comfortable


The City of Atlanta

Not surprisingly, Georgia’s largest city is also Georgia’s largest dirty energy user. The City of Atlanta spends about $21 million annually on mostly coal-based electricity. About $2 million of that expense is spent directly on just four city buildings. To address this cost, Atlanta has outlined more than a dozen projects that will help transform the city in to the paradigm of a modern, green city that relies on green infrastructure, clean energy, and transit. Altogether, these projects are estimated to create 1,935 jobs, cut the City of Atlanta’s greenhouse gas emissions by 7 percent and save taxpayers about $1 million . To increase efficiency, the City of Atlanta has proposed improvements in three key areas: lighting, building envelopes, and water conservation. Recovery funding will go to higher efficiency lighting systems in public buildings as well as automatic lighting controls. LED lighting—which use about one quarter of the energy of traditional lighting—will replace current traffic and streetlights . To improve the overall efficiency of its buildings, the city plans to re-commission and sometimes replace old HVAC systems and install automatic controls for optimal energy use. Water efficiency and energy efficiency go hand-inhand, so the city will also replace plumbing fixtures with new, low-flow technology .

buildings would raise awareness of their existence and effectiveness and would produce significant savings on water heating. The addition of solar panels would reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 6,000 metric tons annually by reducing coal-based electricity needs . Another proposal would turn Atlanta’s Fourth Ward Park in to a model in sustainability. A low-head hydro generator would be installed in the park’s detention pond and used to generate power that can either be sold to Georgia Power or go towards powering the lighting and electricity of the park. Funding would also go towards installing solar panels around the park . At the same time, the parks lighting would be made more efficient by adding dimmer switches to all pathway lights in the Historic Fourth Ward Park. This technology would dim the lights at night when the park is not being used and power them back up when people walk by .

Atlanta has two opportunities to get funding for its transit system. The first proposal is a streetcar system that will service the downtown area in a 2.27-mile loop and a 3.6-mile loop servicing Midtown to Downtown. Together, these streetcar routes will significantly enhance the city of Atlanta’s public transit system. They will improve downtown accessibility for thousands of workers, students, residents and tourists, making driving less of a necessity and alleviating some of our crippling congestion . These streetcars will improve one of Atlanta’s least served but most heavily trafficked areas of town. Everyday there are around 125,000 workers in downtown, as well as 25,000 students and countless residents and tourists that can all benefit from a downtown streetcar line. Another transit proposal is the Beltline Trails and Spurs Project. This plan would put 5 miles of bicycle and running trails around the Atlanta area. As a part of the Beltline project, these trails will go a long way to increase biker and pedestrian safety .

Increasing Renewable Use
The state of Georgia has tremendous potential for renewable power and Atlanta is no exception. For example—the southeast region has 60 percent more solar energy potential than Germany, which is the world leader in solar electricity generation. The Energy Information Administration found that Georgia could provide 23.6% of its electricity demands from rooftop solar alone. To tap this potential, the city has proposed adding solar electricity and solar hot water heating systems to its public buildings. Solar water heating systems on public


By giving people alternative options, Atlanta can reduce reliance on cars as well as enhance Atlantans’ quality of life and health through outdoor activities. This funding would also provide 180 jobs and help the Beltline project get underway. Like the streetcar system, the Beltline Trails and Spurs Project could be quickly implemented and would therefore be an ideal candidate for funding .

32 university busses to particulate filters to reduce fine particle air pollution.

The City of Savannah

Athens-Clarke County

Founded in 1733, Savannah is Georgia’s 3rd largest city and it’s oldest , and is a busy economic and tourist hub along the coast. The Mayor and Aldermen of Savannah have committed to reducing the city government’s carbon footprint 20 percent by 2020.

The City of Athens—Georgia’s 5th largest city and home to University of Georgia—has several green and shovel ready projects that would make the city a leader in renewables and transit in Georgia. These investments will make the city government more energy efficient, provide better connectivity for its citizens, and support local green businesses.

The City of Savannah Government quantified its baseline carbon emissions in the year 2006. In 2006, the organization emitted 75,320 tons of CO2. The largest percentage—26.8 percent—resulted from emissions of the vehicle fleet. To tackle this problem directly, the city has purchased several hybrid vehicles to reduce fuel consumption and emissions and will propose expanding this program using ARRA funds. Today, the City of Savannah is home to the nation’s first hybrid electric streetcar operating on River Street to encourage residents and visitors to utilize public transportation. Additionally, the City is piloting a biodiesel project in 10 fleet vehicles. Finally, Savannah is exploring opportunities to use GPS technology in fleet vehicles to identify opportunities for trip consolidation and enforce anti-idling policies.

Renewable Energy
Athens has a few recent construction projects that could be enhanced with green infrastructure investments. These buildings include the new fire station, solid waste administrative and maintenance buildings, water treatment center and laboratory, and the Environment, Natural Science and Appropriate Technology (ENSAT) Center, which is an Athens-based educational facility promoting renewable energy and green building technology, construction, and architecture. The city has proposed solar photovoltaic and solar hot water panels for all the buildings. The solar proposal would cut down on energy bills and save taxpayer dollars in the future. The solar projects would also spur local investment by bringing business to local renewable energy manufacturers and installers

Energy Efficiency
Savannah may also seek federal stimulus dollars available through the Department of Energy to retrofit public buildings with more energy efficient HVAC systems, lighting systems, and other upgrades suggested by energy audits currently underway. The city’s buildings emitted 18,781 tons of CO2 in 2006, 24.9 percent of the organization’s carbon footprint. In 2008, the City received a grant to conduct energy audits in three office buildings. The energy audits will highlight opportunities for the city to create energy-saving enhancements that will both reduce emissions and reduce energy costs in 2009 and beyond.

Public Transit
The City of Athens also plans to tap recovery dollars to refurbish the public bus service. At its highest ridership levels, the Athens Transit System (ATS) conveyed more than 1.6 million residents and UGA students around Athens in 2008 . Athens would also like to green its public vehicle fleet. The city is pursuing funding to convert 10 busses, 60 diesel trucks, 14 fire trucks, and, partnering with UGA,



The state’s energy bill approaches $200 million annually and Georgia’s unemployment rate hovers around 9.3 percent. If all state facilities were retrofitted according to Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute’s American National Standards Institute (ANSI), we could improve efficiency by 20 to 30 percent and put Georgians to work. We could further employ Georgia businesses and workers by investing in renewable technologies like solar on state, city or county owned property. The following recommendations merely take what cities are proposing today and urge cities and counties around the state to follow their lead. Where ARRA dollars are used for efficiency, alternative energy and weatherization, Georgia can put people to work, reduce our energy bills, and reduce Georgia’s carbon emissions. • Retrofit all public buildings; • Convert public fleets to plug-in electric, hybrid or biodiesel; • Invest in more renewable energy on public property; and • Weatherize all low-income homes in Georgia.


Georgia’s current energy outlook is bleak, we rely heavily on dirty and outdated technologies to supply the majority of our electricity, while and our transportation infrastructure does not provide many options beyond individual cars that burn more fossil fuels. The recently passed recovery act gives Georgia the tools it needs to change course. Shifting to green infrastructure is a long-term project, but the impacts of global warming are becoming more and more apparent and require action now to avoid a catastrophic outcome. At the same time, the economy is in the midst of a painful transition, and we need to make a strong course correction to stem further employment loss in the short term and ensure Georgia’s status as a growing state with high levels of productivity, technology and innovation in the long term. Investing in energy efficiency, renewable power and green infrastructure represents an opportunity to weather these crises and secure our economic and energy future. Implementing these green, shovel ready projects will reduce our dependence on oil, clean up our air and water, reduce global warming pollution, and create much-needed jobs while making the economy stronger and more efficient in the long run.


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