The city of Dunwoody has adopted a new sustainability plan for the city, replacing its old plan,  which had not been updated since 2014. 

During a May 24 meeting, the Dunwoody City Council approved the new sustainability plan. Over the past year, the city’s Sustainability Committee worked on a draft of the new plan to present to council.

“This is a new plan that would replace the current plan, which was adopted in 2014,” said Nathan Sparks, chairman of the Sustainability Committee. “It’s a forward looking document. It has fresh goals and objectives and action items that would allow us to continue this broad vision of sustainability for our community.”

Working in the community gardens of Dunwoody’s Brook Run Park.

One of the main changes to the new plan includes the use of less binding language. For example, instead of the line, “The city will use captured rainwater or reuse water to irrigate landscapes at government facilities,” the new plan states: “The city will consider use of captured rainwater or reuse water to irrigate landscapes at government facilities.”

Many wording choices in the document follow this example. City Spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher said the plan is merely meant to be a “road map” for the city, and the new language fits the Sustainability Committee’s role as an advisory group. 

The plan includes five pillars, each with their own action items. The pillars are trees and greenspace; water quality; transportation and air quality; resource efficiency; and communication, outreach and wellness. 

Trees and Greenspace 

This pillar contains four subcategories: greenspace, trees, pollinator protection and land use. In regards to greenspace, the plan aims to increase parkland and connectivity so that all Dunwoody residents would live within a half mile walking distance to a park. 

The plan states the city should maintain a “no net loss” of trees on government property, and should post on the city’s website about where trees have been removed and what trees have been planted to replace those trees. The plan also states the city should consider a “residential tree policy” with restrictions for cutting down native trees. 

The plan asks the city to maintain its “BeeCity USA” designation and encourage policies that don’t restrict hobby beekeeping within the city. In regards to land-use, the plan asks the city to consider revitalizing vacant or abandoned sites when building new city facilities or other developments. 

Water Quality 

This pillar contains three subcategories: water efficient building standards, watershed protection, and communications and outreach. In regards to building efficiency, the plan calls for the city to perform “water audits” of local government buildings and make recommendations for how water is used. 

In regards to watershed protection, the plan states that the city should reduce the size of street lanes where possible to limit asphalt. The plan also asks that the city reduce impervious surfaces, like concrete, brick or stone. 

The city is also expected to create a public awareness program for water use education, and provide a transparent look on its website about the quality of Dunwoody’s water. 

Transportation and Air Quality

This pillar has three subcategories: multi-modal transportation, air quality, and connectivity. In relation to multi-modal transportation – which means a combination of different forms of transport – the city is expected to install bike racks at all parks and other city facilities, and work to build a network of protected bike lanes and connected trails along main corridors. 

In regards to air quality, the plan states that the city must consider low emission standards when purchasing city-owned vehicles. 

The city is also expected to enact policies and other actions that lead to a “connected network of multi-purpose trails” within the city, and eventually to other neighboring cities. 

Resource Efficiency

This pillar has four subcategories: green buildings; energy efficiency; renewable energy; and waste reduction and recycling. This part of the plan asks the city to invest in energy efficient buildings and reduce cost on the environment.

In regards to energy efficiency, the plan states that the city will start a process that measures how well Dunwoody’s buildings perform in relation to those of surrounding communities in terms of building size, occupancy, type and climate. The city will also require that all energy-inefficient light bulbs in public buildings be replaced with energy efficient ones. The city is also expected to hold programs to educate members of the community about energy efficiency and steps members of the public can take.

The plan states that the city will invest in renewable energy projects, and continue to support solar efforts in the community by promoting rooftop solar installation. 

In regards to waste reduction, the plan states that the city will develop and implement a recycling program at government facilities, and work with local schools to promote recycling. The plan also states that the city will develop an ordinance that requires multi-family residential units to offer recycling capabilities similar to DeKalb County. 

Education, Outreach and Wellness

This pillar has no subcategories. The plan states that the city will establish a training program for staff and new hires on their role in promoting the sustainability plan. The city is also expected to develop education campaigns around sustainability for the public, and youth programs that will teach them about the environment and community sustainability. 

The plan also asks that the city promote health and wellness activities to its residents. The city is expected to encourage community organizations to offer athletics, arts, and nature programming, if possible. 

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers.