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Norcross green efforts gain recognition

NORCROSS -- One Gwinnett town would have made Robert Frost proud -- its green efforts are gold.

Norcross, which won silver level recognition in 2010, became one of only three cities in metro Atlanta to earn Gold certification from the Atlanta Regional Commission as a green community.

"A lot of people have worked very hard to qualify Norcross for this program," said Connie Weathers, who leads the two-year-old Sustainable Norcross initiative. "From local high school kids helping with recycling projects at our special events, to the mayor and council members helping clean out debris in local streams, making Norcross more green has definitely been a positive, community-building experience. We earned Silver Level last year, and were only 50 points shy of the Gold. Since then, the community ramped up things up even more, making it possible to bring home the Gold at last."

According to a press release, in ARC's Green Communities program, local governments earn points in 10 categories by identifying and implementing specific policies and practices that contribute to overall sustainability. Categories include water use reduction, energy efficiency, recycling and waste reduction.

The city's green efforts include requiring city-owned buildings to be LEED certified, an anti-idling policy and green fleet, collecting yard trimmings and turning them into mulch and soil products, and LED and photocell lighting downtown. The use of LED lights for the city's Christmas tree, along with the downtown lights has saved 57,000 kilowatt hours of power and about $6.400, the release said.

Earlier this year, the city adopted a parks master plan with an emphasis on natural spaces and greenways, and the community Salvage, Pickin and Porch Party allowed residents to reuse and recycle materials from three properties.

Weathers said leaders hope to maintain the gold certification and have plans for new projects in the future.

"The neat thing about Norcross, is that the community is willing to get behind their ideas and make things happen," she said. "We're definitely supporters of 'being green.'"