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Eco-Logical Fayetteville Gets the Whole Town Going Green for Collective Sustainability Effort

04/23/2010

Save energy, money, & make a pledge today.

Because of a new Fayetteville pilot project launched today -- Eco-Logical Fayetteville -- you can sign up and begin mapping your own environmental footprint at www.ecologicalcommunities.org   Through Eco-Logical Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas Applied Sustainability Center is linking arms with the City of Fayetteville and a number of other community partners to bring a similar practice to a much larger audience: all Fayetteville residents.

Eco-Logical Fayetteville offers a variety of tools and resources to help city residents understand their current environmental footprint and reduce their collective impact. It includes an online dashboard at www.ecologicalcommunities.org where participants can pledge to make environmentally friendly decisions and see the collective impact they are having. Through innovative partnerships, Eco-Logical Fayetteville is leveraging other resources to help area residents with this effort as well. By working with energy start-up Earth Aid (www.earthaid.net/EcoLogicalFayetteville), participants will be able to track their actual energy and water usage at home, compare their usage to that of friends and neighbors, and earn discounts and offers from local businesses for saving through the Earth Aid Rewards Program.

Eco-Logical Fayetteville is also teaming up with New York Times No. 1 best-selling author, Neale Godfrey, author of ECO-Effect: The Greening of Money, which demonstrates how people can reduce their carbon footprint to save money while saving the earth. Working with the Green Teams in the Fayetteville Public Schools, students will learn at a young age that they can save "green" while going green, and an ECHO will be created where this knowledge can be shared among students, their families and beyond.

"Many people think their individual choices can't make much of a difference in terms of preserving the environment," said Michele Halsell, director of the Applied Sustainability Center.  "The tools and resources we are providing can help us think globally and act locally, and demonstrate that our choices do make a difference."

But this effort doesn't just stop there. It truly engages all community partners in helping residents understand and improve their energy and water use. All four area utilities -- SWEPCO (a division of American Electric Power), Arkansas Western Gas (a SourceGas company), Ozarks Electric Cooperative, and the City of Fayetteville's municipal water utility -- are partners of this effort and play an important role in providing data and in reaching out to their customers to encourage participation.  SWEPCO -- in a similar effort to one launched by its AEP-SWEPCO of Louisiana this fall -- is starting off by providing compact fluorescent light bulbs to the first 100 Fayetteville residents who sign up for the program, and all four utilities will be introducing this program to their customers shortly.

The University of Arkansas and other area employers will be engaging their employees in this effort as well, and any other community group can be involved, helping their members go green while also seeing the collective impact of their efforts. The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce has launched its GreeNWAy program and has nearly 50 local businesses in the process of earning their green certification. The chamber recently held the first Green Ribbon Cuttings for Clubhaus Fitness, Courtyard by Marriott, and the City of Fayetteville Administration Building.

"When you look at Fayetteville, you get the sense that there is momentum and a growing desire to be a part of the solution. The business community recognized this momentum and reacted by creating a program to lead the charge and encourage businesses to start 'Doing Business the Green Way'," noted Steve Clark, president of the Chamber of Commerce.

"I am thrilled to be part of an effort like this that engages our entire community in going green, and that ensures that in Fayetteville, from this day forward, every day is Earth Day -- 365 days a year," said Mayor Lioneld Jordan. "If we are going to address the environmental problems facing us and preserve our quality of life in the future, we must move toward stewardship as a way of life all year round, and this project helps us do just that."

By enabling groups to track their collective impact -- and compete against one another -- and providing an easy way for businesses to participate as Rewards Partners, energy start-up Earth Aid is helping to power this initiative both at the individual and community levels.  "We are looking forward to helping the University of Arkansas, the City of Fayetteville and the many other community partners in this effort to create a healthier and more sustainable environment," said Ben Bixby, co-founder and chief executive officer of Earth Aid. "It's communities and initiatives like this one that are setting an example for others across the country of how to do just that."

Taken together, Eco-Logical Fayetteville is a unique program that can serve as a model for what community-centered sustainability effort looks like, a fact not lost on the effort’s leaders.

"It is our sincere hope that Fayetteville can serve as an example of what can happen when an entire community is engaged in reducing our impact on the planet. If we do everything in our power to make our community more sustainable and if other communities do likewise, one by one, community by community, we can make a difference for future generations," said Halsell.

CONTACTS:
Lindsley Smith, Communication Director
City of Fayetteville
479-575-8328, lfsmith@ci.fayetteville.ar.us

Danielle Strickland, Manager of Advancement Communications
Office of University Relations
479-575-7346, strick@uark.edu

Connie Benesh, Earth Aid
803-622-5269, connie@earthaid.net