Overview of Sustainability in Louisville
In 2012, Mayor Greg Fischer formed the Louisville Metro Office of Sustainability with a mission of promoting environmental conservation, the health, wellness and prosperity of our citizens, and embedding sustainability into the culture of the Louisville community. In 2019, the Office of Sustainabiltiy joined forces with the Office of Advanced Planning (now called the Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability) where it works to create a culture of sustainability through broad-based education and awareness efforts as well as implementation of projects and initiatives to influence behavior change.
Sustain Louisville, the city's sustainability plan, guides the efforts of the Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability and its partners to help meet Mayor Fischer's goal to create a more sustainable Louisville.
Below is a list of accomplishments that have been achieved as staff and community members work towards achieving the goals and initiatives in Sustain Louisville.
- Louisville was one of 88 global cities to be named a climate leader on CDP's 2020 A list, being recognized for its actions to develop robust climate change strategies, track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, assess and mitigate climate risks, and transparently report this information.
- Louisville was selected to participate in the 100 Resilience Cities Network, an international program pioneered by the Rockefellar Foundation to help cities prepare residents for changes in climate. Louisville is developing a plan to alleviate inequities and prevent future burdens from being placed unevenly on already suffering populations.
- In 2015, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited Louisville to acknowledge the city's sustainability efforts, highlight successful programs to increase access to local foods, and recognize the community’s efforts to maintain stringent air quality standards.
National Ratings and Rankings
- Louisville was awarded a gold designation by SolSmart, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, for its commitment to adopting practices that make it faster and easier to use solar energy. This is the highest designation given by SolSmart, distinguishing Louisville as a national leader in advancing solar energy.
- Louisville earned a 4-STAR Community Rating (out of five) through the STAR Community Rating System, a standardized framework for evaluating the sustainability of cities. Louisville was the 13th community in the nation to be recognized with a 4-STAR rating out of over 100 communities actively using the STAR Community Rating System.
- Louisville achieved a Silver Rating as a Bicycle Friendly Community through the League of American Bicyclists.
- Louisville received two 2015 U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards – one for the Green Living Neighborhood Certification Program (developed through a partnership between Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability and Brightside) and one for the Sheppard Square Hope VI Revitalization Project.
Community-wide Sustainability Achievements
- Louisville was the first city in Kentucky to commit to 100% renewable energy, establishing a goal of powering the city’s municipal operations with 100% clean energy by 2035 and community-wide by 2040.
- Mayor Fischer signed the Compact of Mayors, now known as the Global Covenant of Mayors. The signature reaffirmed Louisville’s commitment to reducing citywide contributions to climate change while preparing for the impacts of rising global temperatures and changing weather patterns. Mayor Fischer also signed the We're Still In letter, committing Louisville to pursue the requirements outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement, regardless of national leadership decisions.
- The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) operates 15 electric buses, one of the largest fleets in the country. The fleet also contains 11 hybrid-electric buses and 28 clean-diesel buses.
- Although Kentucky heavily relies on coal as a fuel source, the local utility is taking steps to diversify. In 2015, LG&E decommissioned its coal-fired Cane Run Power Plant and unveiled a new 640-megawatt natural gas combined-cycle generating unit, replacing 13 percent of the utility’s energy production from coal-fired units. Solar is an increasing focus for LG&E, as well.
- In response to a study published by Georgia Tech’s Urban Climate Lab showing that Louisville has the most rapidly growing urban heat in the country, Louisville published the most comprehensive Urban Heat Management Study to-date. The document reports the results of an analysis of heat in ½ kilometer grid cells across the country.
- Louisville Metro Government offers the most robust Cool Roof Rebate Program in the nation at $1 per square foot of cool roof for both commercial and residential structures. The incentives are available city-wide, but are targeted in high-heat areas. Since its launch in 2017, the program has incentived the installation of over 820,00 square feet of cool roofing materials.
- The Wet-Dry Recycling and Composting Program operates in Louisville’s Central Business District. The program, developed out of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Innovation Delivery Team, improved landfill diversion rates from 11% to 76% during the first nine months of the program. Diversion rates remain steady at 80%. The highest diversion rate achieved with the program is 91%. These results are unachievable in most communities. The program is also in place at the Louisville Zoo, Waterfront Park and the Metro Youth Detention Center. More expansion sites are in the works.
- Bicycling as a form of transportation and recreation is becoming more and more accessible. The Louisville Loop, a 100-mile bike and pedestrian path is under construction. When complete, the Louisville Loop will encircle the city and connect the city’s Olmsted Parks. Over 100 miles of bikes lanes and shared lane markings are present throughout the city, and more are planned. The city’s relatively flat landscape makes bicycle commuting easy and fun. LouVelo, the city's bike share program, offers bikes in the downtown area to visitors and locals alike.
Municipal Sustainability Achievements
- The Louisville Metro Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability has received several grant awards to advance its sustainability initiatives, including the:
- U.S. Green Building Council's 2020 LEED for Cities and Communities Grant Program
- National League of Cities' 2020 Leadership in Community Resilience Program
- Urban Sustainability Director's Network's 2015 Partners for Places Grant
- Five Louisville Metro Government buildings have been certified through LEED, and two buildings have received ENERGY STAR Certification.
- Fairdale Library (LEED Silver)
- Newburg Library (LEED Silver)
- Southwest Regional Library (LEED Silver)
- South Central Regional Library (LEED Gold)
- Northeast Regional Library (seeking LEED Gold certification)
- Metro Development Center, 444 S 5th Street (ENERGY STAR Certified)
- Old Jail, 514 W Liberty Street (ENERGY STAR Certified)
- Seven buildings make use of solar energy.