Businesses and residents in Williamson County don’t have to look very far for opportunities to go green – most of them can just head to the curb.
From residential recycling to business-material reclamation efforts and an environmentally advanced police station, Franklin and Williamson County are on the cutting edge of just about every eco-friendly initiative imaginable, with more to come. Most will point to Franklin’s Sustainable Community Action Plan as a template for these efforts, but many more have spun off in bold new directions as well.
“That plan put a lot of focus on certain efforts, but it also made it possible to translate words into actions, to point out ways that people and businesses can help the community be more sustainable,” says Eric Stuckey, city administrator. “People have continued to find practical, everyday things that we can all do within the community.”
Franklin Sustainability Commission
The city now has a nine-member Sustainability Commission, advising city officials on environmental policy, as well as a sustainability/grants coordinator who works to secure funding for new initiatives. It also has seen the launch and immediate success of the Live Green Partnership, where businesses implement conservation and sustainability measures into their everyday practices. Begun on green-themed St. Patrick’s Day in 2010, the program has surpassed expectations from the get-go.
“We thought it’d be great to get 30 or 40 participants when it started,” Stuckey says. “We had 126 companies the day we launched, and have grown to more than 150 since. It’s really an example of the city connecting with where a lot of businesses are already; not a political statement, but just good common-sense, efficient ways to run their operations that also are good for the planet and ultimately for the quality of life in the community.”
Franklin Recycling Program
On the residential side, Blue Bag Recycling began in 2010, giving curbside recycling to all Franklin residents. Participants purchase a box of blue bags at a retailer, and then place plastics, aluminum, steel, mixed paper, office paper and cardboard into them – no separating necessary – and leave the full bag out with weekly trash pickup.
Above ground, residents can stay on top of their air quality thanks to the Clean Air Partnership of Williamson County, a public-private venture between the TMA Group and the county that coordinates the Air Alert Day program, which notifies citizens of unhealthy air conditions and also offers ongoing education about air pollution and alternate modes of transportation.
And then there’s the Franklin police station, a $36 million, 92,000-square-foot building that incorporates everything from hybrid and electric-car parking spaces to innovative storm-water runoff through a green roof and cistern system to energy-saving lighting, heating, cooling systems and more.
“We know we have room to improve, but we’re doing everything that’s in our power to be good stewards of both the public dollars and of the environment,” Stuckey says. “We think that we, and the community, are showing significant leadership with these programs.”
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