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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/STACY RYBURN Peter Nierengarten, sustainability director, presents the energy action plan to the City Council on Tuesday in Fayetteville. The council tabled discussion of the plan to allow the public time to provide feedback.

FAYETTEVILLE -- A plan to dramatically reduce emissions and run on renewable energy will require an all-in effort from residents, businesses and government officials, so the public needs time read it, the City Council decided Tuesday.

Council members voted 8-0 to table adopting an energy action plan until at least its next meeting.

Next meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. Jan. 2

Where: Room 219, City Hall, 113 W. Mountain St.

To read the Energy Action Plan, go to:

The plan's development got the green light from the council in February. The plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide, by 40 percent citywide by 2030, with city facilities running entirely on renewable energy by then. Two decades later, the whole city would run on renewable energy with an 80 percent emission reduction.

A heavy concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere helps retain the sun's rays and will result in significant negative effects, Sustainability Director Peter Nierengarten told the council. That concentration has climbed steadily, starting with the Industrial Revolution of the 1760s and spiking in the 1950s, as well as just a few years ago, he said.

The plan takes on reducing carbon emissions with a four-pronged approach. Using modes of transportation other than cars, relying on an energy supply other than oil, making buildings more energy efficient and reducing the city's waste output all will make ambitious environmental goals possible, according to the plan.

Developers of the plan did numerous interviews, collected data and held public input sessions to inform the study. A survey last year showed 88 percent of residents polled agreed the city should strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and 92 percent said the city should assess the feasibility of updating its building energy codes.

Council Member John La Tour said the energy generated from something like solar panels or wind turbines may be cleaner than other methods. But, he said, it takes dirty energy to make those solar panels and wind turbines.

"I'm all for if there's a magic bullet and we can have free energy and clean energy and the world's a beautiful place, but I just don't think it's as easy as what we sometimes believe it to be," he said.

Nierengarten described clean energy as wind power, solar, biomass or natural gas procured from a landfill or source other than the earth. A good chunk of the discussion veered toward green roofs, which refers to a roof, usually on a commercial building, that has a waterproofing membrane and vegetation on top.

Council Member Matthew Petty said focusing on things such as green roofs or better windows misses the mark of the overall plan. The challenge will be up to not only the city's current residents, but young people and their children to solve, and it will require huge moves, he said.

"Personal behavior alone will not begin to scratch the surface on this challenge. It has to be entirely institutional or societal in nature," Petty said. "I think this plan captures that, and I hope we as a council don't lose sight of that."

In other business, the council unanimously approved a $98,000 contract with Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Arkansas to provide public recreation services to the senior center. Several senior residents spoke during a previous meeting citing concerns because the center's former director, Cayla Wilson, no longer worked there as of Nov. 21.

The contract, which the council has renewed annually for years, would have expired Dec. 31. Connie Edmonston, parks director, said a provision was added allowing a city representative to sit in on interviews for a new director.

A $5.5 million contract with Crossland to overhaul the intersection at Mount Comfort and Rupple roads also gained unanimous council approval. The project will align Rupple Road straight through Mount Comfort, rather being offset as it is now.

The overhaul also entails a new bridge over Hamestring Creek. The extension from near Starry Night View will be four lanes and have a sidewalk on one side and a trail on the other.

NW News on 12/20/2017

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