Hot Topics at October Mixer? Sustainable Construction + Retail!

This month's Green Drinks Charlotte + Sustain Charlotte Monthly Mixer was a big one! About 60 old and new friends joined us as Gold Partners DPS Construction and Belk talked about their inspiring sustainability practices. Our new Bicycle Program Director, Jordan Moore, introduced himself and discussed his role in building Charlotte's cycling community so more people will ride for transportation. If you love riding a bike or using any other type of sustainable transportation (or want to find out how easy it is!), join us for our very first Biketoberfest next Saturday, October 17! You'll bike, walk, or ride transit to fun destinations around Center City and South End to earn stamps in your official Biketoberfest passport. The more stamps you collect, the more chances you'll have to win a TREK bicycle and other fabulous prizes. Tickets are only $15 and that includes a Recover t-shirt, craft beer, and after party concert at Triple C! Kids can join in the fun for free with a registered adult. Click here to buy tickets and join us! You can help us make Biketoberfest a success by volunteering. We have 5 shifts available, including several that would still allow you to participate in the main event. Click here to volunteer. Continue reading

Local leaders approve transportation projects for 2016 to 2025

At the August meeting of the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO), delegates from throughout Mecklenburg, Union, and Iredell Counties approved a list of transportation projects that will receive state funding between 2016 and 2025. Sustain Charlotte's Education + Outreach Director, Meg Fencil, read portions of a joint letter submitted to the CRTPO by members of the Transportation Choices Alliance on July 31. Check out that letter and the CRTPO's response here. Map of the CRTPO region (Image: Continue reading

City Council Discusses Zoning Update

The City of Charlotte is about to embark upon an extensive review and update to its Zoning Ordinance and Policy. At today's (August 10) Transportation and Planning Committee meeting, Planning Department staff talked about the upcoming process and gave committee members a chance to discuss their concerns and ideas.  One of the key recommendations for the update process is to strengthen the linkage between vision plans and implementation tools in order to build the type of people-oriented places that will be desirable to current and future residents. The process will include significant external stakeholder engagement. A public engagement strategy will be part of the consultant's scope of work. The Centers, Corridors and Wedges Growth Framework guides Charlotte's growth & development. Continue reading

Mixer attendees learn how a small business is committed to sustainability

Have you ever wondered how a local business can be more sustainable? Sustain Charlotte's Silver Partner Pasta & Provisions, Charlotte's family-owned Italian grocery and fresh pasta maker, is a great example of how a small business can do many seemingly small things that add up to make a difference. During our August Green Drinks Charlotte + Sustain Charlotte Monthly Mixer, Tommy George, owner of Pasta & Provisions, inspired the audience by sharing the many ways in which his business is contributing to a more sustainable Charlotte community. Tommy George discussed Pasta & Provisions' commitment to sustainability. Tommy George and his wife, Debbie, opened Pasta & Provisions in 1992 in its current Myers Park location in Charlotte. From the very beginning, Tommy George had sustainability on his mind. First things first, he told mixer attendees, he was determined to get a recycling bin on the property. While it was bit of a challenge to get the property owner to give up a parking space, Tommy was eventually successful in his request. Over 20 years later, the George's business has embraced sustainability in various ways: Before you even enter the store, a sticker on the door that says "please remember to BYOB" reminds customers to bring in their reusable bag. Pasta & Provisions distributed 500 reusable shopping bags. Employees also reflect the business's dedication to sustainability by asking "do you need a bag?" at check-out.  Tommy told mixer attendees about the creative way that he has encouraged sustainability around one of his top-selling items -- olive oil. Pasta & Provisions has 7 olive oils on tap! If that isn't cool enough, Tommy also encourages customers to re-use olive oil jars by allowing them to bring back their old jar for a re-fill. And, Tommy shared, if you forget your jar, no problem, you can grab a coffee cup from your car and fill that up with your favorite olive oil instead!  And it doesn't stop there. Customers can also get a discount by bringing in their own containers to fill with pasta sauce.  Pasta & Provisions has also committed to purchasing food packaging that is both sustainable and meets the needs of his business. These are all examples of the creative ways in which a business owner can incorporate the mindset of sustainability into their business culture and practice. We're so grateful for the generous support of Pasta & Provisions and all of our partners. To learn how Sustain Charlotte can partner with your organization, visit our partnership page.   

TCA Members Comment on Proposed Charlotte Area Transportation Projects

This July, residents of Mecklenburg, Union, and Iredell Counties had the opportunity to comment on transportation projects proposed for state funding by the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO). At a time when the state transportation funding process has become very data driven, it's more important than ever for residents to voice their support for transportation projects that meet the needs of our rapidly developing region. Sustain Charlotte staff wrote a letter in support of more funding for pedestrian, bicycle, and transit projects. We invited all individual and organizational members of the Transportation Choices Alliance to sign it, and submitted the joint letter below on July 31.  **Click here to read the CRTPO's response to these comments.** Continue reading

Sustain Charlotte Hosts Youth Sustainable Transportation Fair

Last Friday, Sustain Charlotte transformed west Charlotte's Arbor Glen Outreach Center into an exciting forum of hands-on learning about sustainable transportation. About 100 youth ages 7 to 14 rotated among six stations hosted by Charlotte area nonprofits and government departments. At each station, volunteers led a different learning activity to educate the youth about safe and sustainable transportation. Sustain Charlotte board member Norman Spencer assisted with a map exercise. Continue reading

Grier Heights youth uncover hidden costs of transportation choices

When we educate residents about the impact of our area's sprawling land use patterns and transportation habits, we usually share the statistic that the average Mecklenburg County household spends 26 percent of their income on transportation costs, much more than the national average of 19 percent (learn more in our 2014 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Sustainability Report Card).  But for teens who have never been behind the wheel, that's a very abstract idea. Last Friday, we created and facilitated a game to bring this statistic to life. Teens in Grier Heights mapped areas they'd like to access by bike, walking, or transit. Continue reading

Mixer attendees learn about sustainable energy innovations

When was the last time you thought about the sustainability of the hot water or heating source at your workplace? Boilers aren't at the forefront of most peoples' minds when you ask them about corporate sustainability. But they're a major user of energy in many business and industrial settings. During last night's Green Drinks Charlotte + Sustain Charlotte Monthly Mixer, Frank Salensky, CEO of Sustain Charlotte's Silver Partner Greffen Systems, explained to more than 50 attendees how his company saw potential for improving the energy efficiency of boilers. They developed a sustainable business model that's saving customers money while also reducing carbon emissions.  Frank Salensky and Erwin Morrison discussed Greffen Systems' commitment to sustainability.  Frank explained that Greffen's M2G is an advanced intelligent boiler control that optimizes the heating efficiency of hot water boilers. A unit attached to each boiler monitors the temperature of the water in the flow and return every 10 seconds. This control system keeps the boiler from firing unnecessarily. Greffen Systems products reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption by up to 30 percent with typical payback in fewer than 24 months.  Erwin Morrison and Frank Salensky ended their presentation by explaining why they support Sustain Charlotte through partnership and noted, "It's incredible what Sustain Charlotte has accomplished in only five years!" We're so grateful for the generous support of Greffen Systems and all of our partners. To learn how Sustain Charlotte can partner with your organization, visit our partnership page.  Continue reading

West Charlotte youth create art for neighborhood traffic calming signs

"Slow Down. Children Playing in Neighborhood." "Stop. Kids Crossing." "We Don't Like Speeders" Those were just a few of the messages written by youth during last week's workshop at Arbor Glen Outreach Center in West Charlotte. Over the past year that Sustain Charlotte has worked with residents in the Reid Park neighborhood, we learned that their top sustainability concern is a lack of safe and connective pedestrian and bicycle transportation infrastructure for residents. This includes crosswalks, sidewalks, speed bumps, and bike lanes. Traffic calming yard signs made by West Charlotte youth at recent sustainability workshop. Youth from Reid Park and the surrounding neighborhoods gathered at the Arbor Glen Outreach Center last Friday evening to do something about this problem. Continue reading

Innovative Environmental Sustainability Projects Coming to Charlotte

At the June 10 Environment Committee meeting of Charlotte City Council, Rob Phocas from Neighborhood & Business Services explained a variety of innovative environmental programs that the City is planning for both its own operations and the entire community. The committee's approved Environment Focus Area Plan includes "very aggressive and aspirational goals", according to Mr. Phocas. He showed the diagram below to illustrate how the five environmental initiatives (water, waste, air, energy, and Smart City) will each be supported by goals, metrics, a baseline, mid-term goals, and long-term goals.  The Environment Focus Area Plan sets goals for both City operations and the entire community.  The Energy Secure Cities Coalition (ESCC) is a project to move city fleets toward electric and hybrid technology in order to reduce fuel dependence and protect the environment. The ESCC is looking for 10 pilot cities to transition their municipal fleet. Council Member David Howard asked if this effort would include all city vehicles. Mr. Phocas replied that this program would cover light duty vehicles, and there are other programs in place to reduce emissions from heavy equipment and CATS vehicles.  Continue reading