The mayor of Tulsa formed a new sustainability office to oversee almost $4 million of Recovery Act funds allotted for energy efficiency projects that city officials hope will help offset a $10 million budget cut and rebuild its slumping economy.
Brett Fidler, who served as a special sustainability adviser for the mayor’s office, was chosen as director after Mayor Dewey Bartlett signed an executive order earlier this year to create the Office of Sustainability. Starting this spring, the new office will begin implementing a slew of sustainability initiatives that could save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and create opportunities in an area once known as the energy capital of the world.
“We want to see this move forward,” said Brett, “and energy efficiency is a good place to start.”
In April, the city will begin replacing highway streetlights with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Tulsa’s five most energy-consumptive facilities will undergo energy audits this summer. A total of eight projects — including the development of a long-term sustainability plan and a low-interest revolving loan program to help small businesses perform energy upgrades — are under review now. Brett hopes at least six of the projects will be completed by the end of the year.
The Office of Sustainability will use $1.4 million from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant to retrofit the Oklahoma State University Medical Center. The improvements will save over $210,000 a year.
The city is also proposing renewable energy feasibility studies of some government facilities to help cut energy costs.
“We are in dire need of budget cuts,” said Brett, who oversaw the writing of the grant for the mayor’s office. “We have to save money through energy efficiency.”