The Sustainability Committee, town staff, non-profit leaders, and community volunteers all played an integral part toward a successful 2023. Included here is a brief list of annual accomplishments and an update on Fiscal Year 2024 budget items procured. 2023 accomplishments include: the Town of Davidson's LEED for Cities Certification Application submitted, completion of a community-wide greenhouse gas inventory, and the Davidson Composts Waste Reduction Program expanded to eight drop off sites with 275 households participating so far, and a Climate Action Plan (CAP) underway with an expected completion date of early 2024. (See CAP information and raw survey results here.)
Community Partnerships were a particular benefit including an expanded Earth Day Festival, Davidson College Sustainability Scholar intern program assistance, non-profit leaders' involvement in Climate Action Plan Workshops, event waste reduction efforts, as well as educational native and pollinator garden installations at Beaty Park. Members of the Town Sustainability Committee were involved in the Climate Action Plan process and community survey promotions, advocacy initiatives such as a letter of support for a nonprofit resulting in an EPA Grant Award, and budget recommendations to the board of commissioners and staff. Davidson Lands Conservancy efforts that benefitted the community included over 200 trees planted, invasive plants removed, trail maintenance, educational outings, and a Tree Canopy Analysis completed utilizing town grant funds.
Procurement of items and new town staff that began with passage of the town budget on July 1, 2023, is well underway. Public Works secured a $75,000 grant to fund a cleaner diesel heavy-duty truck and purchased all-electric landscape equipment for the McEver Ballfields including the town’s first electric ride-on mower. The Livability Board assisted with the second year of the Town’s Tree Canopy Enhancement Grant Program that awarded $27,000 to nonprofits. The Davidson Police Department purchased an electric pickup truck through a state discount program and expect delivery of the truck in early 2024. The Davidson Composts Program expanded to eight drop-offs locations and utilized state funding assistance for supply purchase. Staffing updates included the hiring of a new Town Arborist and a new Sustainability Manager position that will begin employment at the end of November 2023.
The Town of Davidson is underway on its climate action planning process! We are thankful to get started on this plan that will help us strategize and prioritize the actions we need to take to help the town meet its 2037 carbon neutrality goal. The Climate Action Plan will include opportunities for public input throughout June and July. For additional information and to sign up to receive updates please click here.
The community enjoyed multiple fun and educational events including the Davidson Earth Day Festival, Lake Norman Bike Expo, Bike and Walk to School Day, and the Davidson Lands Conservancy's Nature Festival. A few other events worth celebrating included Davidson College Earth Month Activities and the Davidson K-8 School Ribbon Cutting event which promoted their new solar installation, weather station, and educational curriculum.
The town's fiscal year 2023-2024 budget planning process is underway for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. Sustainability projects that have been added to the needs list for consideration can be foundhere. American Rescue Plan funds are set aside to add solar panels to town hall in the amount of $300,000. An assessment of the roof replacement needs and a detailed solar feasibility study are in process. Projects that utilize American Rescue Plan funds are required to be finalized by December 2026, so we are excited to get this project underway.
Town staff provided a LEED for Cities Update to the Board of Commissioners on March 14, 2023. LEED for Cities and Communities is a rating system and certification program that evaluates the sustainability and quality of life in cities and towns. Town staff participated in a grant funded training that guided staff on the certification process, that is coming to an end this month, however, staff will continue to collect and analyze data over the next several months. Next steps will be application submittal in late summer with hopes of a LEED for Cities and Communities Certification in late 2023. Information about the requirements of the program can be found here. This initiative is in support of the Sustainability and Natural Assets Strategic Plan Goal, the adopted Sustainability Framework, and will help to inform the coming Climate Action Planning process funded for 2023.
Some additional news about the Davidson Composts food waste pilot project - the successful pilot program will be extended through June 30! The program is currently serving nearly 200 households with a resulting of over 525 pounds of food waste per week being diverted from the landfill. Additional information regarding next steps will be forthcoming in advance of the new budget year that begins July 1. This initiative supports action items included in the adopted Sustainability Framework and not only benefits the community but will strengthen Davidson's LEED for Cities application.
Town staff are continuing to participate in the LEED for Cities Leadership Cohort, a free 8-month training program to guide the town as it works toward a LEED for Cities and Communities certification. An update will be provided to the Davidson Board of Commissioners in February 2023, and application submittal is expected later in the year. In late 2021, the Town of Davidson was awarded participation in the Duke Energy Park and Plug Pilot Program for two public electric vehicle charging stations. The new level two electric chargers are now operational! They are located at 216 South Main Street and 568 Jetton Street near the Circles @ 30 area. Owners of electric vehicles will pay a nominal fee and have 24/7 access to the charging stations. This initiative is in support of the Sustainability and Natural Assets Strategic Plan Goal and the adopted Sustainability Framework. Additional details about electric vehicle charging can be found here.
International Walk and Bike to School Day was held on Wednesday, October 12.
The Town of Davidson and Crown Town Compost are partnering on a new 6-month pilot composting program that will allow 250 residents to sign-up in early September to bring their food scraps to five drop-off locations in Davidson for composting. Given that approximate 30 percent of residential food waste is compostable, we hope to gain valuable data during this 6-month pilot period to assess future need. Details about the Davidson Composts pilot program can be found here.
In June, the Sustainability Committee announced they were seeking additional members for the committee. The process saw an overwhelming interest and the committee was ultimately tasked to select five new members. To view a list of committee members, click here.
The Town of Davidson applied and was accepted to the 2022 cohort for the LEED for Cities and Communities program, which provides year-long technical assistance and covers the cost of certification. The LEED rating system helps communities benchmark current performance across a range of indicators tied to climate change, social equity, sustainability and resilience. This effort will link directly to community-wide greenhouse gas inventory the town will undertake this summer as well as lay the foundation for further planning as contemplated in the new Strategic Plan.
The Public Works Department contracted with Lime Energy for an LED light conversion project at two town buildings, yielding approximately a 50% reduction in energy used and emissions produced at the Parks and Recreation and Public Works buildings. The Town also was awarded participation in the Duke Energy Park and Plug Pilot Program and the free installation of two Electric Vehicle Charging Stations for the public to charge up their EV's.
On September 27, Sustainability Committee member Nora Barger presented results from the first greenhouse gas inventory for government operations at the monthly Planning Board public meeting. Findings reveal that four sectors—buildings, streetlights, vehicle fleet, and employee commutes—produced almost 95% of the town’s total CO2 emissions, based on 2019 utility and fuel data. These results will help the town best determine the high-impact steps needed to address greenhouse gas pollution and achieve the ambitious goal of carbon neutrality for municipal operations by 2037.
Summer 2021 On June 7, the town welcomed a Sustainability Scholar from Davidson College as our summer intern. Emily Kaminski '23 (pictured above) assisted the town with energy use benchmarking. The focus was to gather data to produce the town's local government operations inventory. This work will lead to future efforts to create a timeline of high impact action steps.
On April 27, the Davidson Board of Commissioners adopted the Sustainability Framework that outlines priority areas, includes an updated carbon neutrality goal of 2037 for town operations, as well as other short-term and long- term action items. See the Sustainability Framework by clicking the tab in the left column.
On March 23, town staff liaison Charlene Minor and Sustainability Committee member Matt Walt presented a draft of the Sustainability Framework to the Davidson Board of Commissioners. The framework illustrates priority areas and “defines the desired outcome of the town’s sustainability efforts” as specified in the Strategic Plan.
In August 2020, the Davidson Board of Commissioners added Sustainability and Natural Assets as a priority item to the Strategic Plan. The goal was set to “implement and encourage innovative solutions to environmental, energy, and climate- based challenges.” To accomplish the goal, a new short-term Sustainability Committee comprised of members of the Livability Board and Planning Board was created. Their task was to propose a list of priority items for the board to consider as well as share any related budget items for the board to consider for the upcoming budget year. The committee had the opportunity to hear from the UNC Charlotte Master of Public Administration (MPA) Capstone Team in December 2020 who provided a report and list of recommendations. The committee researched numerous resources and ultimately created a “Sustainability Framework” which they presented to the Board of Commissioners at the March 23 meeting. To read more about the Sustainability Committee, please click HERE.