The Green Scene

A "Green Monday" meet on energy-efficiency loans

The Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute, in cooperation with the city of Asheville and Buncombe County, will stage a "town hall" BRSI Green Monday on April 19 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., at the city's Public Works Building (161 Charlotte St.). The purpose of the event is to educate and gain community views about a financing option that Harvard Business Review has called one of the "breakthrough ideas for 2010."

North Carolina and 15 other states have enabled local governments to issue a form of Property Assessed Clean Energy bonds, which allow local governments to provide loans to businesses and homeowners to make energy-efficiency improvements. The loans are intended to be repaid through an assessment on the improved property.  Both Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners have directed staff to examine the potential for providing PACE loans.

Panelists include: 
Paul Bellows, chair, BRSI Board of Directors and panel moderator
Steve Cochran, chair, Community Energy Action Council
Jeff Hughes, director of the Environmental Finance Center, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government
Holly Jones, Buncombe County Commissioner
Brownie Newman, vice mayor, city of Asheville

The program will provide information about the legislative authority in North Carolina, how the PACE program is working across the country, the particular issues that need to be considered in creating a program at the community level in this state and some of the issues being evaluated by city and county staff. The format will be interactive to engage the community about the concept of the energy-funding initiative and various facets of how a program could work here.

Here's how BRSI describes its Green Monday events: "Green Mondays provide experts, regional leaders, citizens and students with an open forum for understanding and advancing possible pathways to sustainability. Through its Green Monday series, the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute intends to share information, solicit new ideas and develop consensus in pursuit of sustainable community and economic development. Green Mondays are sponsored in part by Progress Energy.

The mission of the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute is to drive knowledge into action, solving societal problems today and for generations to come by harnessing world-class environmental, economic and energy research to collaborations among researchers, educators, entrepreneurs, government officials and community activists.
For more information, contact Janna Zonder at or 505-3547. Or visit

Green Fest at UNCA

UNC-Asheville students will go green in celebration of the university's semi-annual Greenfest April 9 to 11. Since its beginning in 1991, Greenfest participants have added more than 500 trees, 14 trails and hundreds of plants to the campus and the adjoining Asheville Botanical Gardens. A series of campus-wide projects will bring students, faculty and staff together to take part in a variety of campus environmental projects such as creating a pollinator garden and exotic invasive species removal.

Several events, including an address by environmental activist Kirkpatrick Sale, are free and open to the public. These will be held on Friday, April 9, on the Quad, unless otherwise indicated. Rain location is Laurel Forum, Karpen Hall. The April 9 public events include:
• Following opening remarks by student organizations, a transportation panel will be held at 1:30 p.m., focusing on the steps the university and the city of Asheville are taking towards sustainable-transportation practices. Speakers include Chris Miller, UNCA's environmental-health and safety officer; Yuri Koslen, city of Asheville transit-project coordinator; and Kathy Molin, city of Asheville transportation-demand-management coordinator.
• At 2:30 p.m., Appalachian State University professor Joe Rinehart will present a discussion on wind energy in Western North Carolina, focusing on the proposed state ban on wind energy.
• A panel on "Interfaith Responses to Climate Change" will take place at 3:30 p.m. Speakers include Rabbi Rob Cabelli of the Temple Beth Israel, Casey Berger of North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light and Rebecca Levy of UNCA Hillel.
• An eco-feminism panel will be held at 4:30 p.m. Speakers include Tracy Rizzo, UNCA professor of history; Melissa Burchard, UNCA associate professor of philosophy; and Grace Campbell, UNCA humanities lecturer.
• Local folk music duo Sweet Water Revolver will perform at 5:30 p.m.
• Renowned environmental author and activist Kirkpatrick Sale will give a talk on "Bioregionalism: Your Home as Your Country" at 7:30 p.m. in Highsmith University Union, Alumni Hall. He will discuss the benefits of communities living within the constraints of their natural surroundings and the importance of political and economic localization.

Greenfest is co-sponsored by UNCA's Student Government Association, Student Environmental Center, Active Students for a Healthy Environment, Hillel and Campus Facilities.
For more information, call the UNCA Student Government Association office at 251-6685.

Send your environmental news to or call 251-1333, ext. 152.

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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