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The Making of Midtown's Urban EcoDistrict

“We are inspired by the actions already part of the business culture of many of Midtown's businesses and institutions, which put us well on the way to making the EcoDistrict a reality.” – Midtown Alliance

Its been 15 years since Midtown Alliance spearheaded Blueprint Midtown, a community vision for future growth. The plan called for transforming Midtown from a place where more than 60 percent of the land was surface parking lots into a vibrant, walkable, urban district.

The Blueprint has been a resounding success: more than 12 miles of new sidewalks, streetscapes including 750 new trees, billions of dollars in new investment and 36 major development projects in the Midtown core.

In February, Midtown Alliance placed a "green lens" on the Blueprint, galvanizing around a collective vision for sustainability through Greenprint Midtown. 

The planning effort was guided by the Midtown Alliance in partnership with Southface, a nonprofit organization that has promoted energy, water and resource-efficient communities in the Southeast for more than 30 years, and Sustainable Atlanta, founded in 2007 to serve as a catalyst and facilitator for sustainable progress in the City of Atlanta.

The Greenprint process was made possible through grants received from the Kendeda Fund, the Atlanta Regional Commission, and the Midtown Improvement District.

Kurt Hartman, senior vice president of Hines and Midtown Improvement District board member, convened an executive advisory committee to guide the Greenprint planning process. Hines manages two of the larger buildings in Midtown, 1180 Peachtree and One Atlantic Center, both of which are LEED-certified.

At the time, Hartman said: “Increasingly, market forces are favoring cities and districts that are vibrant, walkable, transit-rich and ‘green.’ Tenants demand green office space and residents choose connected and sustainable communities. This is good for the environment and it’s good for the bottom line.”

Through the Greenprint report, local leaders and community members identified and prioritized strategies in five key areas: energy, water, waste, open space and transportation.

These strategies had to be practical, implementable, impactful, measurable and financially-feasible, and as a result, the commitment to create the Midtown EcoDistrict continues to be alive and thriving.

“We are inspired by the actions already part of the business culture of many of Midtown's businesses and institutions, which put us well on the way to making the EcoDistrict a reality.” – Midtown Alliance

In June, Midtown Alliance officially joined the City of Atlanta, Central Atlanta Progress, and others as a Founding Partner of the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge (ABBC). 

The Better Buildings Challenge is a national competition launched by President Barack Obama in early 2011 to catalyze private sector investment in making America’s commercial buildings more energy efficient. 

Atlanta is competing against cities such as Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Houston. The initial phase of the ABBC targeted Downtown buildings but through the Alliance, the program is now being offered to Midtown buildings.

Participating buildings pledge a 20 percent reduction in energy and water use by 2020 and receive a free building assessment, public recognition, technical assistance, and connections to vendors and best-practices. 

The addition of a rainwater cistern and 50 sidewalk recycling containers installed at key locations throughout Midtown’s core district also came this past summer.

Check out the video that Midtown Alliance posted Monday concerning its commitment to a sustainable community.

- Midtown Alliance contributed to this story

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