Sustainable Living in Atlanta

Atlanta, Georgia, like many other major US cities, has a longstanding history of environmental issues. In 2007, the city was ranked 13th in the nation in terms of particle air pollution by the American Lung Association. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation named Atlanta as the worst American city to live in for those with asthma.

In addition to a significant air pollution problem, Atlanta also faced the repercussions of an EF2 tornado in 2008. The tornado did not cause many human casualties, but the environmental and structural damage was devastating to the area. It took months to clean up the damage and begin rebuilding, but the environmental consequences are still being addressed.

Atlanta is currently attempting to combat pollution problems in the city in order to create a healthier environment for residents. In 2003, Atlanta passed legislation requiring all new city-financed construction to meet LEED’s silver-certified level. The legislation impacts not only government buildings, but also city-owned recreation and housing developments.

Atlanta also has an efficient and unique metro transportation system. Current railroad lines are being transitioned over to a mass transit and greenspace corridor. This area will allow 45 neighborhoods to be connected to parks, public transportation stops, and recreational activities. Atlanta is also in the process of creating a streetcar system that will run the length of the Peachtree Corridor. Finally, the Atlanta Rail Line will soon be undergoing upgrades to allow for faster rail cars and more Park and Ride lots.

Residents of Atlanta have a multitude of opportunities for obtaining locally grown food. The city has 11 farmer’s markets, 12 farms, 18 restaurants, and 15 grocers that sell locally grown and organic food to area residents. This also encourages local farmers to use sustainable organic growing practices in order to prevent additional water pollution with the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Residents that wish to grow their own food can apply for a space in one of over 150 independently run community gardens.

Atlanta-area homeowners can also take advantage of government-backed incentives to assist with living a sustainable lifestyle. Atlanta offers the SHINE program that offers up to $3,500 in rebates for weatherization. Homeowners can be reimbursed for weather-stripping, replacement windows and doors, duct sealing, and insulation.

Residents truly wishing to embrace all aspects of a sustainable lifestyle may wish to join the Serenbe community. This environmentally friendly co-operative community rests on 1,000 acres. The goals of the community are to focus on preserving land, sustainable agriculture, green building, a high level of walkability, and energy efficiency. The design of the community allows for high-density building in certain areas in order to preserve large areas of greenspace. Over 70 percent of the subdivision’s acreage is reserved as greenspace, with an additional 30 acres set aside for farming. This farm provides organic foods to CSA programs and farmer’s markets.

Serenbe utilizes green stormwater management techniques in order to lessen the environmental impact of development. Stormwater is directed to vegetated strips of land. These strips naturally filter pollutants out of the water and disperse the run-off to appropriate locations.

The housing in Serenbe primarily consists of EarthCraft houses. These houses are environmentally friendly while also offering many modern comforts. Each house is energy efficient and low maintenance. The houses have sustainable features that aid in water conservation and air quality improvement while using sustainable and renewable resources for construction.

Atlanta, Georgia has not faced the extreme environmental disasters that many major US cities have faced. However, due to the urban population, air pollution and recent damage from a tornado have forced the city to take steps to fix a significant air pollution problem. Atlanta offers residents several initiatives to help life sustainably, while also supporting local farmers and residents who wish to make significant contributions to reducing the carbon footprint of the city.

Companies considering moving their base of operations or opening office suites in Atlanta and Midtown Atlanta Georgia can play their part by ensuring environmental responsibility in a range of ways, from supporting sustainable energy initiatives to promoting office recycling schemes.