It seems to me sometimes that Huntsville wants to become a "Chattanooga with jobs." They've figured out how to put life back into their downtown and surrounding urban neighborhoods, while Huntsville has... well, let's just say we've got a little ways to go. So I wasn't surprised when Huntsville's Green 13 team said they were looking up to our younger (but more mature) sibling city as a model for an upcoming plan to make Huntsville a more sustainable city.
Chattanooga's Green Committee released their Climate Action Plan about a year ago. While it's a little early to gauge how well the plan worked, we can use it to see what's in store for Huntsville.
The Chattanooga plan provides ideas and "potential actions" in subjects from alternative energy to smart growth to educating the public about the environment. For each idea, there is an estimate for its contribution to greenhouse gas reduction and its cost/savings. Ideas from other cities like Nashville (increasing density for LEED projects), Portland (curbside recycling), and Austin (stricter building codes) are showcased as well. There is an emphasis on improving Chattanooga's air quality (a big issue in a city that 40 years ago had the nation's worst air quality) and reducing its carbon footprint.
After the ideas section, results from the public input meetings are shown. Topics were ranked by popularity-- the top three were recycling, transportation, and green building. Many of the ideas are similar to the ones brought up at the Huntsville meeting-- some are common sense, some are a little weird, but I thought this was interesting: the top ideas revolved around initiating a weekly curbside recycling program, something Huntsville has done for years. In transportation, better accessibility for pedestrians/bikers and regional transit were hot topics. But there was one idea that would never be discussed in Alabama: a "20-year moratorium on all road expansion." This probably isn't a good idea, but I think the point is that we need to diversify our transportation network (short-sighted politicians: are you listening?).
Huntsville's own plan should be online sometime in January or February.
Chattanooga Climate Action Plan: