Townsend Bailey is leading the push to make the city of Atlanta a more eco-friendly place.
As leader of Sustainable Atlanta, an organization formed in 2007 under the guidance of Mayor Shirley Franklin, Townsend has been working to shepherd through a new green building ordinance that would significantly reduce Atlanta’s carbon footprint by the year 2030. Bailey recently talked with NRN about the proposed ordinance and what it could mean to local businesses.
Sustainable Atlanta has introduced a green building ordinance initiative. What is its status?
It’s currently before the city council. We’ve made sure we addressed some of the concerns about what specifically is in the ordinance and how it would function. It is not radical, new legislation; it’s simply updating the current building code.
What are some of the specific requirements in the ordinance?
First, we’d like to clarify that it does not require the retrofitting of building space. It would operate exactly like the [current] building code does now. So say you open a restaurant and have just finished a buildout and tomorrow the ordinance gets passed. You do not have to do anything. The only time you would have to [make any changes] is when you do a renovation. The implications of the ordinance are applied at that time, and it only concerns the things you’re changing.
If the ordinance passes, how would it affect restaurateurs in the city?
The way it is written, it would be on the books, but not actually phased in until July 1, 2013. Restaurant owners would have four years from the day it is first introduced by the city council to plan for it.
Are there any incentives for business operators who implement these new standards?
There are not financial incentives right now, only process incentives. One in particular [concerns] the Department of Water Management, which has agreed to a 15-day, date-specific permit review that would help with grease trap [inspections]. That means restaurants would be able to open their doors quicker, a huge win for the restaurant community in Atlanta. Restaurateurs can apply for the incentives by meeting the standards voluntarily before they become mandatory.