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Booming Charlotte Taps Sustainable Growth Strategy

Charlotte North Carolina Makes Sustainability a Priority
A canopy of oak trees on Queens Road West in Charlotte, N.C. Charlotte ranks 13th among the fastest-growing 50 U.S. metropolitan areas, and the city now works sustainability into its overall development strategy. Photographer: Chuck Burton/AP Photo

By Eric Roston

Charlotte, host to this week's Democratic National Convention, has been growing quickly the last decade, ranking 13th among the fastest-growing 50 U.S. metropolitan areas, according to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. To adapt to its success, the city now works sustainability into its overall development strategy.

Mayor Anthony Foxx has made sustainability a priority in transportation, energy, health, water and green space, since he started his term at the end of 2009. The city spells out these initiatives on its website, noting that "Sustainability is a term that is used a lot, but many people don't know what it really is."

Sustainability is "the practices, programs and policies that reduce adverse impact on the environment and promote an enduring community," Foxx said in an interview last week. "We have to think of sustainability as more than environmental protection. We're becoming Native Americans again," he said. Native Americans have "a lifestyle designed to preserve the environment as they knew it. In a lot of ways, I think we're going back to that."

Charlotte ranks 20th out of 27 cities on the Siemens 2011 U.S. and Canada Green City Index, which was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Charlotte’s highest mark came in the categories water management, land use and environmental governance. Tampa, site of last week's Republican National Convention, does not appear in this ranking but has issued sustainability reports for the last three years documenting work in energy efficiency, conservation, parks, transit and other areas, as a part of its Green Tampa program. (Cities were selected for the Siemens green rankings based in part on size; with about 750,000 people, Charlotte is more than twice the size of Tampa.)

Foxx and I will continue our discussion at Davidson College on Wednesday, joined by Eric Spiegel, CEO of Siemens USA, Vincent Davis, director of Smart Energy Now at Duke Energy Corporation and Graham Bullock, assistant professor of political science and environmental studies at Davidson.

UPDATE: To watch a video of this event, follow this link.

Click here to register for the Carbon Disclosure Project's Sept. 12 online Global Climate Change Forum.

Visit for the latest from Bloomberg News about energy, natural resources and global business.


-0- Sep/06/2012 14:22 GMT

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