Cities Get Green

By Claire Ala

Green Cities“Green” power results in decreased energy consumption, accompanied by lower utility bills. Green powered cities have a significant impact on society’s carbon footprint. Although many cities are congested with humans, gas guzzling vehicles and skyscrapers, a handful of these overpopulated areas are actually decreasing their energy consumption by using renewable power.

Alternative energy methods provide a sustainable solution that combats the old methods that release harmful emissions like carbon dioxide. Types of alternative energy include utilizing natural resources like wind or sunlight to create power. Here’s a list of trail blazing cities that use alternative energy to power their communities:

1. Fayetteville, Ark.
Alternative Energy Type: Solar Power
The Blair Library and District Court Building are powered by “photovoltaic solar arrays,” which together generate 27,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The city’s parking ticket dispensers also rely on solar arrays for power. Fayetteville’s  concern for green living also shows in their annual utility costs, which includes steady numbers for 2011 and 2012. The city spent $1.6 million (on water use) per year, $1.3 million in natural gas, and electricity cost between $1.1-1.2 million in 2011 and $1.2 million in 2012.
“The drop in spending on electricity and natural gas since 2009 is a direct result of many of the efficiency and weatherization projects that the city has completed,” explained Peter Nierengarten, Fayetteville Director of Sustainability & Strategic Planning.

2. Washington, D.C.
Alternative Energy Type: Wind Power
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington has the capability to be powered 100 percent by a renewable resource. Businesses and households are given the option of purchasing green energy services. As of Jan. 9,  Washington used 534,084,977 kilowatts of green power.

3. Austin, Texas
Alternative Energy Type: Wind Power
Austin’s city-owned property is 100 percent powered by renewable resources. They were presented with EPA’s 2013 Climate Leadership Award. As a strong supporter of climate change awareness, they plan on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through 2020.

4. Philadelphia, Pa.
Alternative Energy Type: Wind and Solar Power
Philadelphia’s Greenworks program mainly uses solar power to run their city facilities. EPA states that Philadelphia was the first city in the U.S. to use a “NovaThermal Energy geothermal unit, which uses sewage as a sustainable heat source” to power their water department. Philadelphia is working at switching the city to solar energy, while decreasing energy waste from fossil fuels.

5. San Francisco, Calif.
Alternative Energy Type: Solar & Biogas
San Francisco focuses on getting their electricity from pollution-free sources. They have solar installations everywhere, including the San Francisco national airport. They currently have the largest solar panel installation in California. Their future projects on their list of green power consist of adding wind and ocean power energy .

6. The Department of Defense
Alternative Energy Type: Solar, Wind, Biogas and Others
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) currently spends approximately $20 billion per year directly on energy, consuming 3.8 billion kilowatts hours (kWh) of electricity and 120 million barrels of oil per year. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has been hired to lead the U.S. DoD mission to reduce energy costs, decrease reliance on foreign oil, ensure energy security and achieve sustainability goals. The goal is that the total capacity of U.S. DOD renewable energy installations will quadruple by 2025.

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