Tulsa Mayor Unveils Sustainability Plan

Article excerpt

When people think of sustainability, they want to pigeonhole it, said Brett Fidler, director of the city's Office of Sustainability.

"They want to call it energy efficiency, or water conservation - it is all those things," Fidler said. "There are social aspects, there are economic aspects and there are environmental aspects to sustainability, but you have to tailor it to your particular city."

Sustainability has emerged as a strategy for not only saving money and helping the environment, but also for creating energy- related economic development opportunities and ultimately jobs, said Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

Bartlett unveiled the city's sustainability plan to city employees and city leaders at a press conference Thursday in the Mohawk Education Center/Auditorium at the Mohawk Water Treatment Plant in Tulsa.

"Tulsa has the legacy, resources and the institutional knowledge of the entire energy industry," Bartlett said.

Dallas-based URS Corp. developed Tulsa's Sustainability Plan during a six-month study that included input from city employees, Fidler said.

The plan focuses on the city of Tulsa's assets with regard to energy management, water management, solid waste and recycling, fleet management, procurement, alternative and renewable energy and economic development, Fidler said.

What surprised Fidler was the amount of time and effort it took to gather the data.

Bartlett said the effort was difficult because the data was scattered across numerous departments.

Cities are not set up to function this way, Fidler said.

"Sustainability is a concept that is new to cities," Fidler said. "And, it affects everything."

For example, Tulsa spent $20 million on energy in 2010, with a large portion going to electrical utilities. About 30 percent of the electricity bill was spent on drinking water treatment.

"There are hundreds of people paying electrical bills," Fidler said. "And there might be 1,000 (city government) electric accounts with the city."

Out of those accounts, 230 of the largest electric accounts make up 97 percent of the power used in the city, Fidler said. …