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Making Kentucky a Cool Place to Live

November 18, 2009

LEXINGTON, Ky. - An effort to make Kentucky cities a little "cooler" -- by making them a lot more energy-efficient -- is gaining ground. Lexington, Louisville, Owensboro, and Villa Hills have all signed on to be part of the Sierra Club's "Cool Cities" program.

In Owensboro, Aloma Dew with the Sierra Club Water Sentinels says the goal is to make day-to-day aspects of city business more environmentally friendly.

"They are signing the agreement, putting their name on the line and making the commitment to have an Energy Inventory done and to take certain steps."

The steps to which Dew refers can range from the simple, such as using low-wattage lighting, to more complex undertakings: hybrid cars for city employees, installing green roofs on city buildings, and building greener schools.

There are some up-front costs, including $2000 to $3000 for the the first city Energy Inventory. Dew points out, however, that the information is a necessary starting point -- and "Cool Cities" aren't built in a day.

"You don't eat a pie in one bite; we don't expect to save the earth in one bite. But, if every city and every county begins to take meaningful steps, then we will see a difference."

She says the chief benefit for participants is that the program offers real, long-term savings, which any City Hall can use to justify its involvement to residents.

"That's how we will win, is explaining and being able to show people how much money they can save, because when you get to people's pocketbooks, you get to their actions, I think."

She adds the major challenge for Kentucky communities will be changing the minds of those who aren't putting an emphasis on the environment in this tough financial year, as well as others who don't agree with theories of global warming.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - KY