Indy gets a green makeover 


Mayor announces new environmental initiatives

Mayor Bart Peterson announced his new Indy GreenPrint initiative on Tuesday, May 15 at a press conference held at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The goal of this initiative is to create what Peterson calls “a sustainable city,” a city that emphasizes energy efficiency and conservation and that fights global warming.

The plan of action includes improving air quality, decreasing demand for energy, protecting natural resources, minimizing waste, creating and developing “smart transit” and “smart land use” and educating the community.

“Our city is a vibrant place, and we are working to make it as ecologically sound as it is exciting,” Peterson said in his announcement.

He noted that Indianapolis already has many parks and offers public transportation and “walkable commutes” that are better alternatives to heavy vehicle traffic, but said that the city could also be doing more.

The city plans to lead the GreenPrint initiative by example, implementing policies within the city government like conducting energy audits of city buildings and developing their own energy efficiency policy, which includes increasing the city’s use of ethanol and biofuels, putting energy efficient lighting in city facilities and creating training curriculum on the importance of saving energy for new city employees.

Peterson is also encouraging and challenging local residents and businesses to take similar steps, with goals for the community like planting 100,000 new trees over about a 10-year period and by “identifying” incentives for local businesses to do things like design and construct environmentally friendly buildings.

“Through small actions — like using compact fluorescent bulbs, turning off electronic devices when not in use, carpooling to work, recycling or purchasing fuel efficient vehicles — you can make a big difference to our community, and even our planet,” Peterson announced.

Many of these plans for GreenPrint were part of or were inspired by Peterson’s signing of the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement.

As of May of this year, 514 mayors across the country, including Peterson, have signed the initiative. The main goal of Climate Protection Act is to meet or even beat the target of the Kyoto Protocol, the international global warming treaty that was negotiated in 1997 and enacted in 2005 and which asks the countries involved to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to below their levels in 1990 or to take part in emissions trading if they do not reduce these levels.

President Bush did not sign the Kyoto Protocol, saying that it had not yet been determined that global warming was not simply the result of natural causes and questioning whether the Kyoto Protocol would negatively affect the U.S. economy under the agreement.

It was a rather unprecedented move that U.S. mayors made in early 2006, when 165 of them, both Republicans and Democrats, signed the initiative, committing their cities to the target of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions level to 7 percent below what they were in 1990. In June at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the city officials from across the nation unanimously endorsed the Climate Protection Act. Since then, more and more mayors, representing 65 million Americans, have continued to commit their cities to provisions of this initiative.

“Like many other cities across the country, Indianapolis is taking environmental stewardship into our own hands,” Peterson said.

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