What Is Sustainable Norcross?

Do you recycle, compost, xeriscape, use rain barrels? Would you like to learn how? Are you interested in organic and locally grown produce but cannot find it? Do you admire the fabulous tree canopy in Norcross? Ever wondered how to certify your yard as a Wildlife Habitat? Are you concerned about the quantity and quality of our water? Is it better to use paper or plastic bags at the grocery? What natural products are safe but effective? Ever considered sustainable alternatives for flooring, clothing and other products? Where can you discard old electronics?

Well, let’s learn together.

Starting a new organization can be a daunting task. Then an online training manual advised:

"Don’t wait - Get started without funding, expertise, or fear of adverse consequences.

Seek useful resources - Information on the web, in literature, in the community, in person, from experts.

Seek ways to scale up - Transform successful solutions into a movement of local significance.

Have fun projects – enjoy doing. Your efforts can result in important benefits, and you can have a good time while you’re at it!"

And that is exactly what a group of like minded citizens did. The organizational meeting was held June 1, 2008 and we've been busy ever since.

Learn more about us here on our blog or contact us now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

City Lights

While some people are thinking about city lite and wondering how much more its going to cost them, the taxpayers of Norcross are looking at their city lights and counting the savings. In fall 2009 the city replaced incadescent mini lights in the downtown streetscape trees with 400 strands of LED mini lights; all of them controlled with photocells for dusk to dawn operation. This has resulted in an annual savings of 54,000 kWh annually, equating to $6,100 annually. The commercial grade lights also have a longer life than the previous tree lights.
Additionally since 2009 the city Christmas tree has been lit with C9 LED lights with the savings over incadescent C9 lights 2,900 kWh or $330 each year. LED spotlights controlled by photo cells are used for up lighting trees in Webb Park and for landscape lighting at the city Welcome Center. The annual reduction from incandescent spots is 2,300 kWh, a savings of $270 per year. The total annual savings for these LED light installations is $6,700. The city continues its efficency efforts with the new LED outdoor decorative lighing and spotlights in conjunction with new signage for the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center pending final approval and installation. Gwinnett County Department of Transportation, who manages all traffic signal lights in the county on behalf of city, county and state roads, has been converting to LED lights in their effort at cost savings and improved efficiency. This project has been ongoing and will continue until all traffic signals have been converted. A federal grant has funded a large part of this improvement. Take a look around and see Norcross through the eyes of our visitors who will be flooding in for Art Fest this weekend. It might be an enlightening experience. Although these visitors don't seem too excited.
Top photo by Chuck Cimarik, bottom photo by Mike Weathers

Spreading the Word

Regular communication with city leaders is an important factor in the success of the ARC Green Communities certification program. It's also a goal of the Sustainable Norcross Commission. This staff meeting of City Manager Rudolph Smith included an update regarding the measures adopted this year by the city and reinforcement of those previously adopted. The City of Norcross currently is certifed as a Green Community at the Silver level by the ARC joining Cobb County and Roswell as the only communities among the 10 county metro area with that designation.
Since receiving that honor in December 2010 they have been Going for the Gold. The Green Communities Program includes a manual with 65 potential measures that a jurisdiction can adopt as it pursues sustainability. These measures are in 10 categories: Green Building, Energy Efficiency, Green Power, Water Use Reduction and Efficiency, Trees and Green Space, Transportation and Air Quality, Recycling and Waste Reduction, Land Use, Education and Innovation. Each measure is worth 5 or 10 points depending on the level of difficulty and impact. They fall into either Government or Community as the targeted audience with the government leading by example while also offering opportunities for the community to participate. Think the upcoming semi annual city sponsored community recycling day as one example and the recently adopted solar and water conservation incentives another for the community. Conducting energy audits on city owned properties and adopting a No Net Loss of Trees policy for city owned properties are examples of those targeting the city. The City of Norcross has implemented measures in all categories. They have attempted 100% of those in the categories of Land Use, Education and Innovation. The area with the least points attempted is Green Power. They have adopted 51 measures. Of the 14 not adopted, the city has worked on at least 3 that are still being pursued. The City earned the minimum 230 points for its Silver designation and must have a cumulative total of at least 280 for the Gold. This week they are submitting 10 measures for 70 potential points. An ARC committee of experts will review the city's application, conduct a site visit and make a determination with recognition expected in December. Thanks to the teamwork of elected officials, city staff, the city's volunteer advisory boards and others Norcross is becoming a leader and a greener, more sustainable community.

Got A Load of That

Thanks to James Williams of Williams Upcycling , Sustainable Norcross now has a supply of paint to use for community service projects. Not just any paint, but recycled paint salvaged from the landfill and ready to be repurposed. This paint was collected at an event like the one scheduled for Saturday October 15 from 9 AM - 1 PM sponsored by the City of Norcross. The first time the city offered this service along with their semi annual mega recycling event was in April 2011. Over 2,700 cans of paint were turned in for reuse or proper disposal. Reuse has included some of the paint for the walls of The Nest, a new artist incubator in the former parsonage on the campus of Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center (NCACC). A project planned for Friday September 30 as part of Gwinnett Great Days of Service is to paint donated windows removed from a local home. Later the windows will be turned in to a cold frame lid and a small standing greenhouse cabinet.
Both will be used by the newly relocated Norcross Community Garden that is also on the NCACC campus.
Got paint? Need to find a new home for it before the holidays? Participate in the city's Paint Renew Recycling Program and give your old paint new life. James, get a load of that!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Get a Load of This

Can you imagine that this
would all fit in this?
Well, thanks to the expert packing of Patty Russart, Executive Director of Atlanta Community Tool Bank, it did.
Then Patty fired up the electronics and printed a receipt for the tools that Sustainable Norcross has on loan for a workday at Norcross Community Garden Friday September 30. Rental value of these tools is $72.59; replacement value $2,417.39. Thanks to the Tool Bank and Gwinnett Great Days of Service (GGDoS), affiliated with Hands on Atlanta (HOA) and their generous sponsors, the rental is free to non-profits. This is the first year that Sustainable Norcross has participated, but it won’t be the last. In addition to free rental of the equipment, there are other benefits to this new partnership. The established organization of Gwinnett Great Days of Service provides assistance with publicity and recruitment of volunteers, supplies t-shirts for participants and some funds towards project materials in the form of Home Depot gift cards. The newly relocated and renamed Norcross Community Garden will benefit from some sprucing up. Plans include removal of weeds and invasive plants, spreading of wood chips from Arbor-Nomics Tree Service for mulch and weed supression around the beds, repositioning of 4 original beds, weeding and tending existing beds, planting fall crops in beds dedicated for donation to an area food bank, prepping windows donated from a local homeowner to repurpose in to a cold frame and small standing greenhouse, creation of a compost bin from wood pallets donated by Eaton Tile Co. of Norcross. A special feature will be a demonstration by Community Garden Whisperer Pattie Baker of how to create beds for winter crops using covered hoops. Volunteers will then install four. Other special guests may include Fred Conrad, Ex Dir of Atlanta Community Food Bank and representatives of Gwinnett Great Days of Service or Hands on Atlanta. Conrad is sending a team of volunteers with some supplies including water, snacks and fall veggie plants. This is the second time they have worked with Sustainable Norcross at the garden. They are supporting another garden work day, the second one with Wesleyan High School, in October. Additional volunteers signed up include a team from the Green Sustainable Club of Gwinnett Technical College led by Cris Perkins, Director of Institutional Advancement. The school is a repeat participant with GGDoS. Norcross Community Garden regulars Betsy Hixson, Kelli Persons and Connie Weathers are team leaders. Contact sustainablenorcross@gmail.com to add your support. If you cannot attend, please consider donating items from the wish list or sponsoring a bed. A contribution of $150 covers cultivation of one 4 X 8 foot raised cedar bed for a year tended by volunteers. Smaller donations will purchase seeds, plants, organic soil amendments and other supplies. Beds are also available for Do It Yourself gardening now through January 31, 2012 for $25. A 12 month rental starting February 1, 2012 is $50 plus a small registration fee. The garden is for year-round, organic food production for personal use or donation in the Plant a Row for the Hungry program. Community gardens take underutilized land and provide a catalyst for neighborhood and community development while providing food and stimulating a healthy lifestyle. Come grow with us.