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Office of Sustainability Coming Soon

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is searching for a director for his proposed Office of Sustainability, a position he says would more than pay for itself.

Fischer campaigned in part on making Louisville more green and energy efficient. During the race he said he would create an Office of Sustainability, which would encourage residents, businesses and government to think green. Now, candidates for the director’s position are being considered, said officials. And Fischer wants the office filled within a couple months, he said.

“This position will more than pay for itself because of the reduction in energy cost that comes from this person,” said Fischer.

Fischer said the Office of Sustainability director would be someone who could think broadly about how the city could benefit from various energy efficient ideas.

“Most of our energy cost takes place in buildings, number one, and then getting people out of their cars and onto alternative transportation means is a big part of it as well,” said Fischer who explained how the position might operate.

The office became controversial last year after Fischer was accused of asking then-independent mayoral candidate Jackie Green to step down in exchange for influence over the department. Both parties denied this was true. But Fischer says he wouldn’t mind Green’s participation in his cabinet.

“Well not as an employee. Jackie’s got some great ideas about sustainability and we’ll be putting some type of advisory group together. If he wanted to participate in that we’d certainly be open to it.”

Funding for the Office of Sustainability became available in July. The director will be paid around $100,000 with benefits totaling around $140,000.

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Local News

Mayor Fischer Unveils New Green Projects

Mayor Greg Fischer unveiled two green projects on Monday built with federal stimulus funds, continuing toward his goal of making Louisville a leader in energy efficient business.

The first project was an energy efficient green roof for the Romano L. Mazzoli Federal Building. The $1 million dollar project is the largest green roof in Kentucky, covering 24,000 square feet, said Fischer. It features a process that collects rainwater and repurposes the runoff to water plant beds below.

“It was beautiful to see the effectiveness of the roof. These are wonderful ways to demonstrate how dollars can be used smartly,” said Fischer.

Later on Monday, Fischer was joined by Congressman John Yarmuth, D-3, in announcing a new $4.5 million energy efficient TARC facility. The facility is used for maintenance and training and uses solar and natural lighting to power buses instead of having them idle, using fuel and costing money. Fischer said these projects are an investment.

“Sometimes in the private sector people say the payback’s not there–they’re looking at a short period of time, three years or five years,” he said.

But it will take more time to see the effects, said Fischer.

Yarmuth touts the project as a good response to some of the problems in Congress.

“As you’ve no doubt heard there’s been a lot of talk about cutting spending, reducing waste and most importantly creating jobs. Given the dysfunction in Washington right now those might seem like tough goals to achieve. But the truth is right here we’ve done each of these things and more,” he said.

The new TARC facility is expected to save around 30 percent of its energy cost, said Yarmuth. TARC also announced a new route its buses will take out of the terminal. The route will save time, create less traffic, and save around $100,000 in fuel costs.