Smart Energy Voices- Episode 82

Smart Energy Voices- Episode 82

Sustainability and the City of Atlanta, with Chandra Farley


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In this episode of Smart Energy Voices, host Debra Chanil shares a keynote from Smart Energy Decisions’ recent Net Zero Forum presented by Chandra Farley, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Atlanta. Chandra talks about the importance of public-private partnerships, the value of positive pressure, and viewing sustainability through the lens of environmental justice.


You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • Science-based and community-informed [03:20]
  • The Grants to Green program [12:13]
  • Climate and environmental justice [17:30]
  • Atlanta’s Year of the Youth [22:00]
  • Improving quality of life in the city [25:21]


Positive pressure

The City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability and Resilience focuses on clean energy, waste diversion, and food waste recovery. Atlanta has around 200 municipal buildings, which must partner with the Office of Sustainability and Resilience. While the Office of Sustainability and Resilience sets policies, priorities, targets, and goals, those goals are operationalized through the city’s departments. The Director of Urban Agriculture and Food Systems has three or four people who sit on the Department of City Planning. That interdepartmental relationship gives the Office of Sustainability and Resilience direct access to the resources necessary to make programs work.

Atlanta’s Grants to Green program

Grants to Green provided technical assistance and funding to nonprofits for energy and water efficiency upgrades. The program funded engineers to go out and do building assessments. The community foundation partner gave nonprofits grants to implement the list of recommendations. This program proved that the more money a nonprofit saves on operations, the more money it has for programs and services.

The Grants to Green program has worked with the Boys and Girls Club to save them $12,000 annually by changing their LED lighting. That equates to an additional 300 kids whom clubs can serve every year. Some clubs could also afford to hire more teachers for their summer programs. Without these efficiency upgrades and the resulting savings, people would’ve been left behind.

Impact beyond the city

Atlanta’s community clean energy programs have helped in more rural areas where many contractors hadn’t yet experienced some of the newer, more efficient technologies. Thanks to the City of Atlanta’s strong partnerships with its lighting contractors, mentorships grew between them and the rural companies.

Working together and supporting the community with green energy projects is a way to promote environmental justice. Not only do people see a reduction in their utility bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, but financial benefit is delivered directly back into the communities. These communities can then offer more programs and services.

Connect with Chandra Farley 


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