As part of a nationwide push by municipal leaders to get in front of the looming climate crisis, Charleston City Council is forming a Green Committee. Made up of environmentalists, scientists, and area business and community leaders, the committee will be tasked with creating a local action plan with policies the city can champion to reduce pollutants.

The group will then be tasked with monitoring the implementation of the plan, seek out grant funding to support it, sponsor education and outreach programs, and promote regional cooperation. Their focus will be on energy conservation, greenhouse gas reductions, green building and development programs, and sustainability and education programs.

“We have so many opportunities here to help local businesses and residents (to become more environment-friendly),” says Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.

Charleston has already pledged to reduce carbon dioxide levels over the next five years, Riley says. In 2006, the city lowered carbon dioxide levels by 19,000 tons through improvements to lighting, heating, air, and water systems, he says. The reductions are equivalent to removing 2,800 cars from Charleston’s streets and expected to save $550,000 annually in energy savings.

Also Monday, the council:

• Approved $119,000 for design work on streetscape improvements to Lower King Street. The design phase will likely head in to the fall, with construction not expected to begin until after the new year.

• Will return to having meetings in the recently renovated City Hall on Broad Street by the end of May.

• Approved a new ordinance requiring road connectivity between developments, increasing the existing requirements for residential communities and adding commercial developments to the ordinance.

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