Greenville selected to participate in Envision America

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10 cities nationwide to receive tech support for smart city projects

 

Greenville will be among nine other cities attending an Envision America workshop Jan. 12-14 to learn how to jumpstart a smart city initiative that will help with challenges in energy, waste, water or air.

Envision America was created in the model of North Carolina’s Envision Charlotte, which was launched in 2011 and aimed to lower the city’s energy consumption 20 percent over five years.

The focus was sustainability in uptown in buildings 10,000 square feet or larger and 61 signed a pledge to participate, said Amy Aussieker, Envision Charlotte executive director. Sensors gathered data about energy use and participants launched a behavior-based program for those working in the buildings, she said. Property managers also participated and University of North Carolina-Charlotte performed energy audits for the buildings to target areas for reduction. Then the program moved into capital improvements that could further reduce consumption.

The latest data reflects a 17.1 percent reduction of energy usage, putting the initiative on track to reach the 20 percent goal, said Aussieker.

Envision America, a nonprofit announced in September by the White House, was modeled after the Charlotte program.

Greenville County and City of Greenville officials will be joining those from Pittsburgh; Los Angeles; San Diego; Milwaukee; Portland, Ore.; Dallas; Cambridge, Mass.; Spokane, Wash.; and New York City.

The workshop is designed to link various sized cities with the technology needed to track the data and partners to help implement their plans, said Aussieker.

Each of the 10 participants will receive the Envision America app designed to engage the local community and “gamify” sustainability programs, according to the nonprofit. GE will offer consultation on smart city infrastructure along with access to its GE Predix industrial Internet platform for one year. Microsoft also will provide the cities with Microsoft Azure Government cloud platform for one year.

Paula Gucker, assistant Greenville county administrator for community planning, development and public works, said the workshop will help the county determine what sort of alternative energy it could derive from former landfills, including solar or wind on site. Another focus could be improving water quality in the Reedy River, she said.

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