First Place Winners: Denver & Wilkes-Barre
Providence, RI — Denver (CO) Mayor John Hickenlooper, and Wilkes-Barre (PA) Mayor Thomas Leighton have been selected to receive the 2009 Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards, a program sponsored by The U.S. Conference of Mayors and Walmart.
The Awards Program recognizes mayors for innovative practices in their cities designed to increase energy efficiency and curb global warming. An independent panel of judges determined the winners from a pool of 140 applicants.
“These leading mayors are great examples of the local action taking place within our cities to become climate friendly,” said Conference President Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz. “Mayor Hickenlooper’s FasTraks Program will serve as a national model, for cities striving to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, while Mayor Leighton’s Efficiency Program is a perfect example of the cost savings that energy efficient lighting can create.”
“We are proud to honor these cities and their mayors for their leadership and the innovative ways they are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the quality of life in their communities,” said Ray Bracy, Senior Vice President, U.S. Government Relations and Public Affairs, Walmart “While the challenge of climate change remains, together we are helping Americans reduce their energy use and save money so they can live better. With the commitment of USCM, Walmart and concerned citizens, we will continue to move our cities, our nation and our planet forward toward a more sustainable future.”
“All 32 Denver metropolitan mayors and the Regional Transportation District joined forces and worked hard to earn community support for a sales tax increase to build FasTracks, the largest transportation initiative in the country with 119 miles of new light rail,” said Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. “We were able to demonstrate to residents throughout the met¬ropolitan area how they would benefit – that even if they wouldn’t ride light rail, they’d end up with shorter commute times by getting as many people possible off the highways and onto the trains. FasTracks will be a crown jewel for Colorado and a clear example of what can happen when government and the communities they serve come together for a common goal.”
“The City of Wilkes-Barre is very proud to be the recipient of this Award,” said Mayor Thomas M. Leighton. “Initiating an efficient energy service program in Wilkes-Barre made both environmental and economic sense. Through this program, we lessened our impact on the environment while experienced substantial cost-savings, estimated to be $170,000 annually. By winning this award, we hope to serve as a model for other communities and businesses who strive to become more environmentally conscious.”
First Place - Award Winning Program Summaries
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (Large City Category)
FasTracks is the most ambitious transit initiative in U.S. history, creating an opportunity to connect smart growth, housing choices and expanded transportation. The challenge of passing a large transit initiative in an ideologically diverse region was met by uniting the environmental and businesses communities and all Metro Denver mayors in a regional bipartisan coalition.
Regionwide, 51 of the 57 new stations will have Transit Oriented Development potential
- meaning the potential to reduce sprawl, and provide pedestrian- and bike-friendly environments that encourage residents to live, work, shop, and play in close proximity to transit, thus reducing their carbon footprint. Last year, Mayor Hickenlooper also pledged to make the Democratic Convention the greenest in history.
Wilkes-Barre (PA) Mayor Thomas Leighton (Small City Category)
Efficient Energy Service Program
A broad-based, public initiative that relies on a combination of energy efficiency upgrades in various city departments. These ranged from new compact fluorescent lamps; overhead and pyramid lighting in public parking garages and public spaces; LED traffic signalization lamps; and a new HVAC system in city hall.
Mayor Leighton initiated this program to make Wilkes-Barre a more eco-friendly place, and reduce the city’s operating expenses by increasing energy efficiency. The project was completely financed through a 15 year bank loan to the City of Wilkes-Barre. In 15 years, the annual energy savings to the City of Wilkes-Barre will be sufficient to pay back the loan with interest.
The following cities were selected as finalists for the awards. Brief descriptions of their programs are listed in a new Best Practices Guide found at: usmayors.org/climateprotection
Large City Finalists:
Boston; Charleston; Chattanooga; Colorado Springs; Frisco (Texas); Honolulu ; Houston; Louisville; San Francisco; Seattle; Stamford; and Tallahassee.
Small City Finalists:
Carmel; Chapel Hill; Columbia; Highland Park; Manhattan Beach; North Miami Beach; and Pleasanton.