What is sustainability?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.
Davidson's core values state
The physical, social, and intellectual well-being of Davidson citizens is fundamental to our community, so town government will provide and encourage enjoyable, safe, and affordable recreational and cultural lifelong learning opportunities.
Citizens must live in a healthy environment, so government will protect watersheds, trees, air quality, and other elements of the town's ecology.
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: a Climate Action Plan underway with an expected completion date of late 2023/early 2024, 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.
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 Headline.
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 found here Headline. 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.
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.