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Recycle Center

Charlie Snyder, of Sissonville, drops off recyclable material at the Slack Street recycling center in Charleston.

Governments work best when we have an active and engaged citizenry. It is to the credit and benefit of Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin that we have citizen boards like the Green Team and the LGBTQ Working Group, serving to drill down on issues and offer expert advice to our elected leaders at no cost to taxpayers.

As chairman of the newly formed Charleston Green Team, I’m proud to say that we are hitting the ground running, investigating ways to help the city cost-effectively become more sustainable.

Goodwin and the City Council established the seven-person Green Team in February, with a really great group of people from a wide variety of backgrounds, all of whom are committed to volunteering to make our city a better place to live. Our first meeting was at the end of March; we now meet on the third Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m.

The first substantive recommendation of the Green Team is a proposed ordinance to measure and reduce energy use in city-controlled buildings. The proposal mirrors a recently approved West Virginia law that requires state buildings to reduce energy use by 25% by 2030, among other cost-cutting measures.

Councilman John Bailey and Councilwoman Jennifer Pharr introduced the ordinance earlier this month. The Environment and Recycling Committee (chaired by Bailey) is planning to take up the bill in early August, followed by Pharr’s Facilities Committee, before going to the full council.

Many other cities across the country have taken steps to reduce energy use, but Charleston is on track to be the first in West Virginia to establish such an ordinance and start saving taxpayers money in this way. Energy Efficient West Virginia can help local governments anywhere in the state to establish similar ordinances.

The Green Team’s top priority is helping to find a long-term solution to the recycling conundrum in the region. This is no small feat and, if it is going to work, will require multiple governmental entities to cooperate toward the common goal of a functional, effective method for responsibly handling our recyclable waste. I hope that Kanawha County, South Charleston and other local governments can work together with Charleston to establish a single, centralized, modern recycling sorting facility. Councilman Bailey is taking strong initiative on the issue, and we are helping to pitch in where we can.

Charleston residents who have ideas about how to cost-effectively make the city a safer, healthier and more sustainable place to live, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly or to the Green Team, at greenteam@ cityofcharleston.org, on our Facebook page or our website, charlestonwv .gov/government/ greenteam.

I think I speak for all Green Team members when I say we welcome participation and assistance from neighbors who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work with us.

Emmett Pepper is chairman of the Charleston Green Team and policy director for Energy Efficient West Virginia.

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