Louisville’s Potential

The city of Louisville has the potential to be one of the greenest, most sustainable? cities in the world. This will grow the city by strengthening the economy, while providing numerous opportunities for residents. Cities moving towards sustainability are creating a healthy, vibrant, & thriving future. The city of tomorrow will not be restrained by fossil fuels, but instead consuming clean, renewable energy. Cities must move away from the antiquated culture of yesterday, e.g., built around automobiles, not pedestrian friendly, fossil fuels, etc.

Currently, cities are moving in this direction, i.e., Reykjavik, Iceland; Vancouver, Canada; Portland, Oregon; Copenhagen, Denmark; Seattle, Washington; & San Francisco, California. Cities populating this list usually focus on energy efficiency, alternative energy, carbon footprint reduction, air quality, & a pedestrian friendly environment.

Louisville Metro created the city’s first comprehensive sustainability plan, Sustain Louisville, which is affirming their commitment to becoming one of the greenest cities in the country4. The plan has six major focus areas with 19 broad goals; below are just a few examples of the goals associated with each area5.

  • Energy: Decrease energy use citywide per capita by 25% by 2025.
  • Environment: Achieve and exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards & Divert 50% of solid waste away from the landfill by 2025 & 90% by 2042.
  • Transportation: Decrease transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020.
  • Economy: Provide opportunities for clean economy organizations & innovators, & develop a qualified workforce to support it by 2015.
  • Community: Establish a robust urban tree canopy & implement strategies to mitigate the urban heat island effect by 2018.
  • Engagement: Engage the community in sustainability practices and principles.

Louisville Metro Accomplishments:

  • The city launched a new energy savings performance contract that will result in $27million in energy-efficient upgrades & repairs in city-owned buildings6.
  • The Mayors Energy Star Building Challenge was successfully completed with 25 newly certified Energy Star commercial buildings6.
  • The city received $135,000 in private grant funding to complete what will be the most comprehensive urban heat island assessment & heat management plan in the country6.
  • Bicycling improvements focused on connecting the Central Business District. Plans also include expanding throughout the city & to recreational outlets such as the Louisville Loop6.
  • In November, the city launched Move Louisville?, a 10-month process to engage the community in creating a long-range strategic multimodal transportation plan6.
  • The city’s Land Development Code was updated to allow community & market gardens in a wide variety of zoning districts. A $25,000 grant was received to help fund 13 new community gardens or expansion plots in the Portland & Shawnee neighborhoods6.
  • The city & Metropolitan Sewer District each allocated $50,000 toward conducting a comprehensive tree canopy assessment?. A vendor will be contracted & the assessment will begin in 20146.
  • Park system: Louisville Metro has 122 city parks covering more than 13,000 acres7.
  • Numerous local governmental agencies dedicated to improving the environment, e.g., Air Pollution Control, Climate Change Committee, Office of Globalization, Tree Advisory Commission, Office of Sustainability2.

One of the greenest, most sustainable cities in the world. Does Louisville Metro have the leadership to fulfill this achievement? It won’t happen overnight & Louisville Metro can’t do it alone, as it will take a combined effort from the local municipality & citizens. Louisville Metro can only do so much. They can put everything into place to move the city in the right direction, but the citizens must be willing to step-up. The city has the potential, but it will take time.

The city of Louisville has a lot of great ideas, but they are only ideas if they don’t come to fruition. For the realization of Sustain Louisville, the leadership will have to make hard, unpopular decisions. Mayor Fischer & the Office of Sustainability are one the right path, but the great city of Louisville needs more, wait, they deserve more.

Terms: (?)

Move Louisville: Long-range strategic multi-modal transportation plan focusing on creating greater mobility between the places where people live, work, shop & enjoy leisure time in Louisville3.

Sustainability/Green: Creates & maintains the conditions under which humans & nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic & other requirements of present & future generations1.

Tree canopy assessment: Project to set a new long-term tree goal to achieve 45% tree canopy coverage for Louisville Metro4.


  1. EPA
  2. Louisville Metro
  3. Move Louisville, Louisville Metro
  4. Office of Sustainability
  5. Sustain Louisville 2013
  6. Sustain Louisville 2013 Progress Report
  7. Wikipedia, Louisville

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