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Asheville, North Carolina News

Archive for the ‘sustainable’ Category

City’s Capital Program Makes Asheville Civic Center More Sustainable

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

ASHEVILLE, NC – A leaky Asheville Civic Center roof will soon be replaced by a better looking and better insulated roof, as the city’s capital improvement program will give the center energy-efficiency investments over the next five years.

The $1.5 million dollar-roof project began at the end of September and is scheduled to be completed in early January, with contractors taking breaks for heavy rains and to make way for upcoming entertainment acts, such as the Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam, an annual arena sell out.

“The economic impact the center has on the city of Asheville is significant. Ninety percent of tickets for the Christmas Jam will be purchased from outside of North Carolina,” said interim Civic Center Director Dan Dover. “This past year alone we had more than a quarter of a million attendees, and that figure is on the low side considering the constant exchange of people we have for events such as Bele Chere.”

The center is the largest facility in Western North Carolina with the 7,200-person capacity Arena, the 2,431-person capacity Thomas Wolf Auditorium, the 450-person capacity Banquet Hall and 25,000 square-feet Exhibit Hall.

“The roof project is one of the largest capital investments the facility has seen since 1975 when the civic center was built and the auditorium remodeled,” said Dover, who has worked for the Civic Center for nearly 11 years.

Thus far, workers have removed most of the old roof and put down a temporary one so the upper concrete columns can be power washed and cracks sealed against further weather damage. After the structural repairs are made, insulation will be laid that is nearly double the previous amount, and the new roof will be installed over it. The fading brown cornish trim on the roof will also be removed and replaced.

These new improvements will remove mold growth, increase the facility’s energy efficiency and allow staff to remove the tarps that have been hanging from the arena ceiling and catching drips for the past three years.

In addition to the roof project, $250,000 in capital funds budgeted for the Civic Center this year will be spread out over various projects according to the most pressing facility needs. Other smaller capital projects recently completed include an upgraded fire alarm system and new smoke hatches in the stage area of the auditorium. The portable-basketball court flooring is currently being refinished and painted so it is ready for the annual Globetrotter visit and the Crossfire Ministries.

The arena is also getting an upgraded electrical system to meet the changing requirements for incoming acts. The installment of three 400-amp three-phase 208 disc connects for additional electrical power will be necessary to accommodate Disney on Ice’s Thanksgiving week show, where they will need the power to run their ice plant.

“The city is investing resources to address deferred maintenance and improve the facility so that the condition of the building matches the quality of the entertainment it attracts,” said Asheville’s Vice Mayor Jan Davis, who serves as the City Council liaison to the Civic Center Commission. “We want to enhance the patrons’ experience at the Civic Center while managing its operations within our financial means.”

While the roof replacement is the facility’s largest immediate project, the Civic Center has mapped out a five-year capital plan to help sustain the quality of services it has been offering. Meeting basic codes, improving energy efficiencies, and improving sound and lighting to meet the changing needs of entertainment acts are all part of this plan.

Once the roof is complete, work will begin on the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium fire exit, to improve egress from the building. The stage lighting controls and fixtures with 1970’s technology also need to be replaced with more efficient ones that will have an anticipated two to three year payback on energy savings.

While the Asheville Civic Center is continually making improvements, it is still very much in high demand, turning down as many acts as it books because dates requested are already booked. It offers a special service to the Asheville area, bringing groups from the community together and groups from outside the area in, positively impacting the economy of the area.

The Asheville Civic Center is a regional destination for outstanding entertainment, trade shows and events. The Civic Center offers Western North Carolina diverse entertainment from rock concerts and sporting events to family shows and performing arts. The facility is the heart of downtown Asheville’s arts and entertainment scene. For more information on facilities and events, please visit www.AshevilleCivicCenter.com

Asheville’s WNC Alliance Wins Statewide Innovation Award

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

ASHEVILLE, NC – The Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA) was recognized for its “exemplary performance in innovation” and awarded $10,000 from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation at the North Carolina Conservation Network’s Annual Retreat in Raleigh.

The foundation gave WNCA its annual Community TIEs Award based on the group’s innovative approach of working with federal and state agencies, private companies, and other non-profits and involving volunteers in invasive exotic plant species control and native habitat restoration efforts on vulnerable public lands in Western North Carolina. Criteria for the top innovative program included the use of new and different solutions to combat old challenges.

“The innovation category traditionally receives the most applications from competing groups,” WNCA Executive Director Julie Mayfield commented, “so we are particularly honored to be chosen for this award, and we are grateful for the $10,000 gift.”

Excessive growth of exotic invasive plants is ranked second only to habitat destruction as a threat to wildlife. To combat this growing problem, WNCA and its partners launched this program in 2004, and since then the program has:

– Trained close to 200 volunteers in identification, inventory methods, and control methods of nearly a dozen invasive exotic plants;
Coordinated over 1,300 volunteer hours over 29 days across 25 miles of trails and roads in national forests and national parks;

– Coordinated control work on over 13,000 square feet in the Sandy Bottom ecosystem in Asheville to directly benefit endangered Bog Turtles and diverse salamander species;

– Planted over 150 mixed-hardwood trees for habitat restoration; and Educated over 300 other citizens through presentations to various organizations, schools, and garden clubs.

“Our success is measured not only in the hard numbers of miles and acres controlled, but also in the knowledge volunteers take back with them to their yards, their neighborhoods, and their local parks,” said WNCA Ecologist Bob Gale, who manages the program. “WNCA is proud to use this innovative and scientific approach to continue to improve our region’s most ecologically sensitive areas.”

Other partners in the program are Equinox Environmental Consulting and Design, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Southern Appalachian Man and Biosphere, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and North Carolina Department of Transportation.

WNCA is a 27-year old environmental group that empowers citizens to advocate for livable communities and the natural environment of Western North Carolina. For more information on upcoming WNCA activities, call the office at 828-258-8737 in Asheville.

City of Asheville Saves $65,000 on Electricity Costs

Friday, August 21st, 2009

ASHEVILLE, NC – Shutting down computers, turning off lights and changing work schedules. Those are some of the strategies the city of Asheville used to save more than $65,000 in energy costs last year. The city implemented these and other programs by challenging employees to find ways they could save energy on their own.

“A little goes a long way. We had hundreds of city employees taking the extra step to conserve energy and participate in our sustainability programs,” said Maggie Ullman, the city’s energy coordinator.

The results paid off. Over the last year, the city reduced its municipal energy usage by 867,000 kilowatt hours, which is the same amount of energy it takes to operate City Hall for six months. As a result, the city reduced its municipal carbon footprint by 623 tons.

The city points to three key sustainability programs as major contributors to the organization’s success during the last year: the compressed work week, an automatic computer shutdown program, and the employee energy conservation challenge.

* The compressed work week, where employees typically work four ten hour days as opposed to a traditional five-day week, was first piloted in the Public Works Department and soon spread to other divisions. The schedule allows the city to realize energy savings by utilizing buildings, computers and other equipment 25 percent less. It also reduces the carbon footprint associated with employees commuting to work. About 180 city employees currently work a compressed schedule.,/p>

* The computer shutdown program utilizes software to automatically turn off more than 500 city computers at 8 p.m. to reduce energy usage.

* The energy conservation challenge encouraged employees to voluntarily reduce energy usage wherever possible. Simple acts like turning off lights when rooms were not in use and adjusting thermostats made an impact, especially in smaller facilities like community centers and fire stations.

As part of its strategic plan for the city, the Asheville City Council included a focus area on green initiatives, stating, “Asheville will be the southeastern leader in clean energy and environmental sustainability while preserving and enhancing the city’s natural beauty.” In April 2007, City Council adopted a goal of reducing the municipal carbon footprint by 2 percent every year. Staff conducts an annual energy inventory to track the organization’s progress on energy usage.

Asheville will use a Sustainability Management Plan adopted by City Council in June to guide ongoing efforts to further reduce energy consumption. To view Asheville’s Sustainability Management Plan or for information on other city sustainability programs, visit www.ashevillenc.gov/green.

Hilton Asheville to Open with Major Step Toward Eco-stewardship

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

ASHEVILLE, NC – The Hilton Asheville, scheduled to open this August, is one of the first major hotels in the United States to take a considerable step toward sustainability. For evidence of the Hilton Asheville’s unique commitment to eco-stewardship, you need only to look up. Atop the Hilton is one of the nation’s first hotel solar water heating systems. This system will be one of the largest installations in the Western North Carolina region.

Water throughout the hotel, including the pool, will be solar heated, eliminating twenty-five tons of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of planting 7,377 trees. Here guests can feel good about relaxing in one of the Hilton’s Whirlpool Tubs or taking a dip in the heated saline pool. Moreover, the solar water heating system is just one of the hotel’s many environmentally focused features.

The 165-room hotel is set in the heart of Biltmore Park Town Square, the largest mixed-use district outside of the city’s downtown. The Hilton Asheville was built to blend green practices with the Hilton’s acclaimed commitment to guest comfort, and was designed to LEED Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards from the Green Building Council. LEED certification is based on numerous metrics including energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

Committed to the stewardship of its natural surroundings, the Hilton will reduce water usage by 30% through the installation of low-flow toilets, showerheads and sink fixtures. The hotel will also focus on reducing energy consumption by using ENERGY STAR qualified CFL light bulbs, which use up to 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Each kilowatt-hour saved preserves one pound of coal. The Hilton Asheville will also employ a recycling program for both guests and employees to further reduce raw materials, energy and air pollution. Select staff will even wear uniforms made out of regenerated plastic bottles.

Promoting lower emissions is also part of the hotel’s sustainability efforts. Guests may accept shuttle service in an alternative fuel shuttle, which reduces the burning of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter. The hotel will offer preferred parking for energy efficient hybrid vehicles. Additionally, guests may choose to bicycle as an alternative to driving, ultimately reducing the use of gasoline and the production of carbon monoxide.

The Hilton Asheville is proof that eco-conscious travel can come packed with amenities. Hilton houses spacious and inviting executive suites complete with luxurious bathrooms – some featuring Infinity Edge Whirlpool Tubs. Businesses committed to green travel will be attracted to the hotel’s state-of-the-art meeting facilities, 4,500 square feet of meeting space and green meeting policies that avoid the use of linens when possible.

The hotel is also home to Sparrow Spa, a plush destination spa featuring a full menu of relaxing services. The spa will exclusively use Eminence Organic Skin Care products, a European line that contains the highest possible levels of all-natural organically grown herbs, fruits and vegetables. The hotel’s ultra-modern fitness center features Precor equipment and an indoor lap pool and whirlpool. Traveling foodies will enjoy the gourmet stylings of Executive Chef Randy Dunn, who brings 15 years of culinary achievement to Roux, the on-site full service restaurant. The restaurant is making an effort to use as much local food as possible as part of the hotel’s place-making commitment.

Hilton Asheville is located just off Interstate 26, Exit 37 on Long Shoals Road in Biltmore Park Town Square. This location is just 5 minutes from the Asheville Regional Airport and 15 minutes from Biltmore Estate and downtown Asheville. The Blue Ridge Parkway is just minutes away, along with many other attractions in the Great Smoky Mountains. The Hilton is just steps from major national retailers and restaurants including P.F. Chang’s, Barnes and Noble and REI.

Pre-opening information about the Hilton Asheville, Biltmore Park Town Square is available at 828-210-8290. Guest reservations are currently accepted on www.ashevillebiltmorepark.hilton.com or through a travel professional.

Sustainable North Carolina 2009 Nominations Now Open

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Raleigh, NC – Calling sustainable businesses of all sizes, social entrepreneurs, and champions of environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic prosperity.

Nominations for the 2009 Sustainable North Carolina Awards are now being accepted online at www.sustainnc.org/2009awards. In the spirit of the 2009 theme of “Inspiring Innovation,” the nomination process will take a decidedly social media route to make it faster, easier, and more transparent. Nominee profiles will appear on an interactive website where the public can comment and ask questions.

Now in its eighth year, the Sustainable NC Awards is one of the most widely recognized programs in North Carolina honoring organizations and people who integrate social responsibility and environmental stewardship with sound financial performance. In 2008, winners included The Biltmore Company in Asheville, Green Planet Catering in Raleigh, and the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro and the US Fleet Readiness Center East in Cherry Point.

A judging panel comprising past award winners and sustainability specialists will select finalists and winners in each of five categories: Triple Bottom Line, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Catalyst, and Champion. Award finalists will be invited to present at breakout sessions on the day of the Awards ceremony. Event attendees will be able to cast a vote on-site for the winner of the brand new “Spark” award for the most inspirational finalist. All awardees will be honored at a ceremony and reception on November 11, 2009 in Raleigh at a venue to be announced.

A limited number of sponsorship opportunities for the awards program and event are available. Please direct questions about the nomination process or sponsorships to Katy Ansardi at [email protected] and (919) 839-2111 x9304.

The Hilton Asheville at Biltmore Park Town Square Goes "Solar"

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

ASHEVILLE, NC – Warm weather, sunny evenings, vacations, and open windows are all aspects of summer that we are eagerly anticipating. As cabin fever sets in, we can add one more summer excitement to our list: The Hilton Asheville at Biltmore Park Town Square.

The new Hilton at Biltmore Park Town Square will be far more than a hotel and conference center; it will also be a leader in sustainable design, setting new standards for environmental consciousness and green building practices. At Biltmore Park Town Square, the buildings are more than just locations for premier condos, apartments, townhomes, retailers and offices–they are a way of life.

The Hilton Asheville, in tune with the community’s focus on quality of life, is the first Hilton hotel to utilize a large-scale solar hot water system, and it will be the largest system in the Western North Carolina region to date. The solar panels will provide 2,000 gallons of hot water to the hotel every day, and it will eliminate 60 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year. As a complement to the solar water system, all guest and public rooms will feature low-flow toilets, shower heads, and sink fixtures, reducing normal water usage by up to 30%. The steps that the Hilton is taking to provide its guests with the highest quality and healthiest experience possible will also culminate in the equivalent of planting 18,000 trees a year.

The Hilton’s green design is further supported by its location. With residential, retail, and office space all within walking distance, guests at the Hilton have everything they need for business, dining, health, and recreation in an arm’s reach, which reduces pollution from frequent driving.

hotel will also feature a shuttle service, recycling program, environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and local services. Biltmore Park Town Square is where going green meets luxury, and the Hilton strives to be the epitome of both. For an unparalleled hotel experience or an idyllic event venue, consider the Hilton Asheville, where you will receive unbeatable service and experience a new quality of life.