Land-of-Sky gets piece of $7.8 million grant to reduce greenhouse gases

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that Land of Sky Region Council in Asheville, North Carolina is among 20 U.S. communities, including two Indian Tribes, to receive $7.8 million in grants for projects that will reduce greenhouse gases (GHG). The funds will help Climate Showcase Communities increase energy efficiency, saving consumers money and reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is a great opportunity for Land of Sky Regional Council to work with EPA to develop innovative strategies to reduce Greenhouse Gases in Asheville and Buncombe County,” said Russell Wright, EPA Assistant Regional Administrator.  “Our combined efforts will help to cut energy bills for schools and businesses in the local community”.

Land-of-Sky Regional Council Climate Showcase Grant will fund the Reading, Riding and Retrofit project that will support environmental sustainability in public schools throughout Buncombe County, North Carolina.  The project will create energy efficient school building retrofits, transportation system enhancements, recycling improvements and volunteer “Green Teams” to support the schools.

The Climate Showcase Grant will directly support the annual reduction of Green House Gas emissions by an estimated 1,129 tons.  Land-of-Sky Regional Council will partner with Buncombe County and City of Asheville school officials and other partners to lay the ground work for long term potential reduction of Green House Gas emissions by more than 11,000 tons annually.

Preliminary calculations by the grant applicants estimate that by 2012 the projects will reduce about 135,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually—equivalent to the emissions from 25,000 passenger vehicles or 12,000 homes and save more than $4.5 million per year in energy costs. Several projects are expected to create or maintain jobs and provide green job training.

Projects will target every aspects of a community’s carbon footprint, from increasing energy efficiency in homes and businesses, to helping residents save fuel by decreasing the number of miles they drive.

The funded communities are showing their commitment to combat climate change by contributing more than $5.6 million in matching or leveraged funds and committing to sharing lessons learned. Grantees selected for the Climate Showcase funds were also required to show their ability to achieve ongoing GHG reductions as well as to track, measure, and show progress toward their goals.

EPA will monitor the progress of grant recipients and will post quarterly updates about each recipient online. An additional $2.2 million is still under review and is expected to be awarded in the next few months to five additional local and tribal governments.

The Climate Showcase Communities Grant Program is administered by EPA, providing technical assistance, tools, and guidance to help state, local, and tribal governments implement policies and programs to mitigate climate change.

More information on the grants and the grant recipients: http://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/local/showcase/

More information about the program: http://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate

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About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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