Phoenix, Arizona and Blacksburg, Virginia top this year’s list of the top green cities according to the US Conference of Mayors (USCM). The Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards honor cities for innovative programs that increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. An independent panel of judges selected the winners from a pool of applicants. The awards are sponsored by USCM and Walmart.
“We congratulate the winning mayors, especially Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Blacksburg Mayor Ron Rordam, for their leadership in showing how curbing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency and solar also boosts local economies and quality of life in our communities,” said Brian Monahan, Walmart.com’s Vice President of Marketing. “Cities and businesses together know that we can grow smarter and be more efficient in the use of our energy and other resources.”
Large City Category (population over 100,000) – Phoenix, Arizona, Mayor Greg Stanton
“Energize Phoenix was a remarkably successful energy efficiency program that is saving local businesses and residents $12 million every year,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “With this public-private partnership, we turned an urban corridor into a green urban corridor, and transformed tens of millions of square feet of commercial and residential space into shining examples of how cities can take the lead in creating a more sustainable future.”
It’s Energize Phoenix program is a three-year program to incentivize building energy efficiency improvements along an urban corridor served by light rail. The program has catalyzed $56 million in energy upgrades along a 10-square-mile urban corridor of Phoenix surrounding the newly-constructed Metro light rail.
Phoenix also partnered with Arizona State University and APS (Arizona’s largest electricity provider) to leverage $25 million in program funding from the US Department of Energy and $31 million in utility funding to transform the downtown core into a green corridor. It focuses on a diverse mix of single- and multi-family residential buildings and small commercial buildings, offering significant rebates and financing for energy efficient upgrades.
Small City Category (population under 100,000) – Blacksburg, Virginia, Ron Rordam
“Our citizens who took part in Solarize Blacksburg and our town are the real winners,” said Blacksburg Mayor Ron Rordam. “We are also so pleased to see so many other Virginia communities following our lead on solar energy, as all of us move toward a future of clean energy.”
In early 2014, the Town of Blacksburg launched Solarize Blacksburg, the first initiative of its kind in Virginia, to make solar energy more affordable and less complicated for the average citizen. Working with local solar installers, the town and its community partners assumed responsiblity for a number of front-end costs – engaging the public, marketing the program, performing satellite roof assessments, and arranging favorable financing, among other activities – in exchange for reduced installation costs for the homeowner, lowering costs by 16 percent with an average savings to homeowners of $3,256 per installed solar array. To date, 21 other Virginia communities have followed the city’s lead and created “Solarize” programs in their own communities.
In addition to the first place winners, Honorable Mentions were awarded to mayors in five large cities and five small cities for their exceptional achievements in efforts to promote climate protection:
LARGE CITY HONORABLE MENTIONS: Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin (TX), Marni L. Sawicki, Mayor of Cape Coral (FL), Michael B. Coleman, Mayor of Columbus (OH), Gregory A. Ballard, Mayor of Indianapolis (IN), Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville (KY)
SMALL CITY HONORABLE MENTIONS: Lioneld Jordan, Mayor of Fayetteville (AR), Jonathan F. Mitchell, Mayor of New Bedford (CT), Setti Warren, Mayor of Newton (MA), Kevin McKeown, Mayor of Santa Monica (CA), Laurel Lunt Prussing, Mayor of Urbana (IL)