ACES helps Austin go ‘green’

Published 11:14 am Friday, July 8, 2011

With just a few steps, one local organization hopes to make Austin a better place to live.

The Austin Coalition for Environmental Sustainability scored a victory Tuesday when City Council members voted to put a resolution creating a sustainability task force together at the next city council meeting.

If the task force comes to fruition, Austin will be on its way to become a GreenStep City.

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“By going green, we can help nature and we can make Austin a better place to live,” said Merlene Stiles, head of ACES.

Stiles and ACES first presented the GreenStep City concept to City Council more than a year and a half ago. The Green Steps concept, partially sponsored through the state government, focuses on having cities become responsible for environmental sustainability through things like local food production, more walkways and bike paths, more public transportation and more environmentally sustainable buildings.

That involves 28 best practices which cover things like effective building reuse, more green buildings, and more mobility options.

“This is a plan to help make (living green) a reality,” Stiles said.

The upcoming Green Steps City group can have up to 15 members and will likely be comprised of a couple Austin residents and people who represent local groups.

Council member-at-large Janet Anderson spoke highly of the GreenStep Cities program Tuesday and expressed interest in being the council representative on the task force. Judy Enright is also expected to join.

While City Council still has to approve the group and it could take years to fulfill its mission, people are starting to take notice of Austin’s future.

“We’re just so excited,” Stiles said.