The two local governments are among nine cities and six counties that were certified this month through the Atlanta Regional Commission's Green Communities program. The program recognizes local governments for policies and procedures that reduce their community's overall environmental impact.
Local governments earn the designation by completing projects in the areas of green buildings, energy efficiency, green power, water efficiency, trees and greenspace, transportation and air quality, recycling and waste reduction, land use, and innovation.
Grace Trimble, senior communications coordinator for the ARC, said governments focusing on these areas, over time, will see reduced costs and greater efficiency with their resources.
"It is also a matter of civic pride," she said. "You are contributing to a more sustainable region."
Both the county and Woodstock received bronze-level certification.
Woodstock received credit for:
* Requiring all new city government buildings larger than 5,000 square feet to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certified;
* Requiring all new city government buildings not LEED certified to achieve Energy Star of EarthCraft Light commercial certification;
* Offering a quicker planning and development review time if a project is EarthCraft of Energy Star certified;
* Having a policy of purchasing energy-efficient equipment and appliances;
* Retrofitting traffic signals with more efficient light bulbs;
* Adopting a lights out/power down policy;
* Offering a reduced planning and development review time for builders constructing new homes with a renewable energy source;
* Requiring new city government buildings to install high efficiency plumbing fixtures;
* Installing a rain barrel at the Woodstock Community Center;
* Offering an expedited review process for developers building WaterSense certified new homes;
* Maintaining 500 acres of permanent greenspace in the city;
* Adopting the Greenprints Project, a comprehensive park, trail and open space project that will establish a city-wide green infrastructure system;
* Being designated as a Tree City USA;
* Creating the Woodstock Community Garden, which has 24 plots for rent;
* Adopting an anti-idling policy for city government vehicles;
* Adopting a policy for the city government to purchase recyclable products;
* Synchronizing traffic lights within 1,000 feet of each other;
* Making recycling stations available at city government facilities;
* Offering curbside recycling to single-family residences;
* Approving the Livable Communities Initiative for downtown to encourage smart growth;
* Educating city government employees on sustainability efforts;
* Promoting the city's "green" efforts to citizens through the Internet, newsletters, brochures and events; and
* Going to a paperless city government agenda system, saving 170,000 pieces of paper a year.
Reen Foley, program coordinator for the city government's Sustainable Woodstock initiative, said the city is going even further with its "green" efforts.
"We are expanding the downtown park to where City Hall used to be," she said, referring to Woodstock City Park on Arnold Mill Road. The community gardens also have people waiting to participate, she added. "We would like to expand that."
The city recently installed solar panels on the former Woodstock Community Church, which the city purchased last year for a new City Hall.
Cherokee County received credit for:
* Requiring county government buildings to be LEED certified. The county administration building has been certified as a silver LEED building by the U.S. Green Building Council;
* Encouraging green residential and commercial building by offering expedited permitting reviews and reduced fees;
* Purchasing energy-efficient equipment and appliances;
* Installing more efficient light bulbs in traffic and pedestrian signals;
* Adopting a lights out/power down policy;
* Adopting an outdoor lighting and road glare ordinance to encourage efficient outdoor lighting;
* Encouraging solar energy projects on new construction by offering expedited reviews and reduced fees;
* Completing energy and water audits on 70 percent of county government facilities with the remainder to be done by 2013;
* Requiring high-efficiency plumbing fixtures in new government buildings;
* Maintaining about 17,800 acres of permanent greenspace;
* Adopting a greenspace protection program that sets a goal of 20 percent of county land being preserved as greenspace;
* Opening a community garden at the Cherokee County Senior Center;
* Adopting a no-idling policy for county government vehicles except public safety vehicles;
* Adopting an environmentally friendly purchasing policy;
* Providing for recycling at county government facilities;
* Recycling ink cartridges and copier toner as well as electronics;
* Holding electronic recycling drop-off events during the year;
* Renovated an abandoned building that now houses the Cherokee Area Transportation System and fire logistics;
* Adopting the Bells Ferry Livable Centers Initiative plan to promote smart growth measures and for revitalization efforts in southwest Cherokee.
* Worked with the Upper Etowah River Alliance to renovate a facility near the Etowah River to install demonstration projects to control all stormwater runoff from the roof and street; and
* Analyzing traffic signals biennially for improvements.
County Manager Jerry Cooper said the county government hopes to be an example for the rest of the community.
"We can show a leadership role," he said. "We can show that there are ways an individual and companies can be more energy efficient."
Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood said he thinks the Green Communities program is worth the council looking into.
"Hopefully, as development returns, [developers] will be looking at this as well as they develop new communities," he said.