*Note: The following is a draft script for a skit-style yearly report for the Environmental Advisory Board that was presented to the Council at the Boards and Commissions Appreciation Dinner on October 9, 2012
The Town of Cary’s Environmental Advisory Board is beginning its fifth year of providing advice and feedback to the Town Council and various Town departments on a variety of issues that impact our environment and our citizens’ quality of life. The Board, representing citizens at large, technical experts and businesses and organizations with an interest in the environment, provide a diverse and balanced perspective on the opportunities before the town for sound and practical stewardship of our natural resources.
The Board has evolved over the past four years from identifying opportunities within the Town operations and services provided to our citizens, to understanding the services currently operated to looking to the future to taking advantage of opportunities to continue the great work that the Town has been doing as stewards of our environment.
A good example of this is the recent Strategic Energy Action Plan developed by Emily Barrett, the Town’s Sustainability Manager, with input from the EAB and various Town departments. The plan is to reduce the town’s energy use by 13 percent over the next several years. The genesis of this plan began in the early days of the EAB when we tried to understand just how much energy Town operations consumed. It was a daunting task. When the US Department of Energy announced the availability of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, members of the EAB worked with Town Staff to prepare Cary’s application for approximately $1.2 million. With the successful application and grant funds, the Town of Cary was able to hire a full time Sustainability Manager. The EAB was ecstatic.
One result of the EECBG was the comprehensive “Inventory of Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Municipal Operations from 2005 -2010”. This in depth analysis provided a substantial tool for understanding and developing a strategy for the Town to reduce energy use which has a benefit for both the environment as well as the Town’s bottom line. This served as the foundation for the Town’s Strategic Energy Action Plan. The Board is proud to be part of this effort.
It does not stop there though. There are lots of other exciting things the EAB is involved with. From participating in the Hydraulic Fracturing Task Force, involvement with the Town’s EPA’s Climate Showcase grant, $500,000 for the improvement of our fire stations, including the high performance features that are being integrated into Fire Station 8 under construction, providing feedback to various master plan revisions within the Town. All of this is very exciting and demonstrates the leadership the Town of Cary demonstrates in protecting our natural resources.
Just as important is the opportunity to listen to our citizens about what they are doing to help our environment. At Spring Daze we posed this question to visitors to our tent that was staffed by EAB members and Emily. The hands you see here represent the responses we received from adults and children. Among the top items included reducing solid waste thru recycling, reuse and waste reduction such as composting, saving energy, both in their homes and transportation like carpools, mass transit and bicycles, planting more trees, and saving water. Although this was certainly a non scientific survey, we know our citizens are already embracing environmental stewardship.
At Lazy Daze we asked citizens what they thought the Town should be doing to help the environment. Their ideas, also written on hands, included saving energy including installing more charging stations and solar panels. Encourage saving water thru more rebates and programs such as rain barrels, improved recycling efforts and better communication with citizens on town programs/initiatives.
The EAB is proud of all that’s it’s accomplished in the past four years and looks forward to even greater accomplishments as we all, Town Council, Staff and citizens, work together to make our surrounding neighbors green with envy.