Advisory Roundtable Recap: Atlanta’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Chandra Farley

City of Atlanta Advisory Roundtable Recap
November 1st, 2023
Speaker: Chandra Farley, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Atlanta

On Wednesday, November 1st, The Council for Quality Growth welcomed Chandra Farley, Atlanta’s Chief Sustainability Officer, to this month’s North Fulton Advisory Roundtable. Thank you Chandra for your time and thank you Cherry Street Energy for sponsoring the event.

Having been a partner of the City of Atlanta in various roles over the past decade, Farley has hit the ground running during her first year as the City’s Chief Sustainability Officer. The discussion today began with her team’s big-picture vision for a circular economy in Atlanta. Waste, food systems, buildings, transportation and pretty much everything are connected, she said, and all of us have a roll to play. She walked us through the “trifecta of insecurity” — housing, energy, and food— and how many communities are being left behind in nationwide efforts for sustainability. Farley emphasized that clean energy is an opportunity for everyone: “our long-term goal is 100% clean energy for 100% of Atlantans.”

Since 2015, Atlanta’s Sustainability Office has published actionable reports that outline climate goals for the city. The ‘plans of action’ have included, for example, “Resilient Atlanta,” “Clean Energy Atlanta,” and “Decarbonize Atlanta.” Farley covered each in depth. She also highlighted several tools, initiatives, and partnerships that are progressing Atlanta’s sustainability efforts.

Importantly, Farley mentioned that her team plans to update the benchmark ordinance for building reporting in Atlanta. She believes reporting for buildings standards has already been seriously lacking, but that we also need to go much further than the current standards. “Buildings have to be key drivers for climate justice,” she said, “which includes considerations of the full ecosystem dependent on or around them.” Farley also recognized the nuances of many building types and locations, and intends to create standards as a menu of options depending on the building’s context. She walked us through some benchmarks her office is considering.

To conclude, Farley emphasized her efforts to quantify the local economic opportunity – ‘what’s in it for me?’ – to mobilize the business community and activate the residents. She strongly believes in a holistic, together effort.

Following the presentation, great questions were asked about how the city is handling solid waste and landfill, and how the sustainability conversation is coming into the land-use planning mix.

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