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Suwanee receives green community certification

SUWANEE -- Suwanee received the Atlanta Regional Commission's Green Communities Certification on Wednesday.

The ARC's Green Communities Certification program recognizes communities that have taken measures to reduce their environmental footprint and promote sustainability. Suwanee is the only community in Gwinnett County and one of nine in metro Atlanta that has received the certification.

In addition to Suwanee, the ARC officially recognized DeKalb and Douglas counties and the cities of Atlanta, Roswell and Fairburn during its board meeting Wednesday. Cobb County and the cities of Alpharetta and Decatur received the "green" certification this summer.

The ARC considers 61 criteria in making its green community designation, according to a news release. A few of Suwanee's efforts noted by the ARC include:

* Requiring that all new city-owned buildings larger than 5,000 square feet be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.

* Adopting a lights out/power down policy requiring employees to turn off lights and all other nonessential electronic equipment when not in use.

* City Hall's Energy Star-rated roof.

* The city's Open Space initiative and protection of 9 percent of total land area as greenspace.

* Implementation of a green fleet policy, no idling policy and environmentally preferable purchasing policy.

* The Suwanee Farmers Market.

* Suwanee's encouragement of mixed-use redevelopment and implementation of smart-growth practices in the downtown master plan.

Suwanee adopted several new policies this summer to achieve its green designation, the news release states.

"In may ways, Suwanee was already a green community," Senior Environmental Planner Wes Rogers said. "These new policies and practices are simply taking us to the next level and acknowledging that there are some things that we can do to use our environmental resources more efficiently. We're working to make Suwanee, literally, a cooler place to live."