David Crockett has a vision of a new Chattanooga.
The vision includes green, white and solar roofs atop the rooftops of homes. It has tree-lined streets with pedestrian and bicycle paths. There also would be jobs created that help make Chattanooga, the country and the world more sustainable, he said.
He sees it all beginning in 2011.
"This was a year of planning," said Crockett, the director of the Chattanooga Office of Sustainability. "Next year will be our first year of real harvest."
Mayor Ron Littlefield created the Office of Sustainability last year as a way to make Chattanooga a greener city and named Crockett to lead the department.
The office started with one staff member - Crockett - and over the last few months he has hired a handful of part-time staff with federal grant money. Crockett's salary - $75,000 annually - is paid for by a federal grant.
One resource he hopes to have by mid-2011 is a website for the Office of Sustainability that explains sustainable practices.
Two years ago, Chattanooga adopted a climate action plan that identified 47 initiatives to make the city green and helped create 17 different action teams. Crockett said he wants to streamline the teams because many of them are doing duplicate work. He also wants to put them all under the Office of Sustainability.
climate action plan
With or without the Office of Sustainability, the Climate Action Plan is under way, said Jim Frierson, vice chairman of the Chattanooga Green Committee.
More than 25 Chattanooga buildings are looking at Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, about 400 electric-car chargers are about to be placed throughout Chattanooga by the federal government and the city was just chosen as one of nine cities across America as a test case for a new sustainability rating software system, Frierson said.
"He [Crockett] is jumping on a train that's already in motion," Frierson said.
How the emerging green movement in the city has helped curb carbon emissions and reach other benchmarks within the Climate Action Plan is unknown, he said.
A city employee who set and monitored the benchmarks left about a year ago. Since then, tracking progress has faltered, Frierson said.
"I would have to say, in a systematic way, it's not as strong as it should or could be," he said.
Among Crockett's goals is finishing a "complete street" - one that has paved traffic lanes, concrete sidewalks and businesses on either side, but also has green medians and greenspaces alongside the sidewalks and perhaps a biking trail.
He wants to conduct a series of workshops in the Department of Public Works to teach engineers how to think green.
Steve Leach, administrator for Public Works, said his department already knows about green strategies and tries to incorporate those ideas when the city has the money and when the neighborhood supports those approaches.
As an example, he pointed to a recent streetscape along Main Street that uses many of the green ideas Crockett talks about.
"If we can do sidewalks, we're going to do that," he said. "If we can do street trees, we'll do street trees."
Crockett also talked about partnering with the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce to promote ideas such as sustainable roofs and green spaces which can reduce the amount of stormwater runoff.
J.Ed. Marston, spokesman for the chamber, said chamber members would decide whether to support fully a green strategy. He said chamber officials have had some initial talks about whether there is enough interest within the chamber to conduct a long-range plan on sustainability.
"We're in conversations with a number of people to see if there's enough support," he said.