The last 18 months have made it extremely clear have important it is to have safe, livable cities. I’m fortunate Solential Energy is headquartered in the City of Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis. Carmel city officials and leaders have very thoughtfully planned and created a model community that welcomes businesses and residents. Why do I say that? Simple. Instead of the typical urban sprawl of strip centers, busy roads and no sidewalks or greenspaces, Carmel is designed to be totally “people friendly” with unique work, shopping, living options, and recreational areas. Don’t be surprised if you see me and my dog Zoey out jogging on weekends.
Carmel is also a model for the rest of the nation and world to follow. And from June 8-12, hundreds of guests from around the world will gather here for the annual International Making Cities Livable Conference for a live, four-day case study on how Carmel was transformed from a typical sprawling bedroom suburb to a walkable, diverse, thriving, and livable town that combines commercial, arts, recreation, and residential districts into a unified whole people are drawn to.
The conference is sponsored by the international organization of the same name, International Making Cities Livable. The organization was founded in 1985 by the late Dr. Henry L. Lennard, a Viennese medical sociologist, and the late Dr Suzanne C. Lennard, an English architectural scholar. The Lennards were passionate about improving the quality of life for all. To do it, they brought together the world’s most innovative and successful mayors, planners, economic development specialists, designers, developers, NGO officials, researchers, and scholars to share ideas and expertise. Past host cities include Charleston, S.C.; Freiburg, Germany; Bristol, UK; and Venice, Italy.
Much of the credit for Carmel’s success goes to Mayor Jim Brainard, who truly is a visionary at re-imagining cities. Mayor Brainard is probably best known for replacing intersection and traffic lights with roundabouts. Carmel, with 135 roundabouts as of January 2021, has more roundabouts than any other city in the United States. This policy has reduced accidents and fatalities and reduced carbon emissions. Did I mention that Mayor Brainard is also very “green?” In 2008, he won first place honors from the Mayor’s Climate Protection Awards Program for various environmental initiatives. Mayor Brainard will be actively involved in the Making Cities Livable Conference’s many tours and events. Here’s the complete schedule.
The conference will have many tracks addressing the biggest issues facing cities today such as affordable housing, homelessness, equitable access to healthcare, and one near and dear to Solential Energy, green cities. And while guests will have opportunities to tour Carmel’s business and arts districts, and the Monon Trail and White River Greenways, the tour I would really like to see happen is a tour of Carmel’s water and wastewater treatment facilities.
I know what you’re thinking. “Corey, why the heck would you takeout-of-town guests to a water treatment plants? Won’t it smell? It’s kind of a turn off dontcha think? Actually, no. It’s actually a point of pride because in 2020 Solential, with our partner Telamon, installed solar arrays at two sites in Carmel, the first is a water treatment facility at 106th and Gray Roads and the second is the Hazel Dell Parkway wastewater plant. The two solar arrays consist of 3008 panels that total 1.08 MW DC. These solar arrays should be the envy of cities everywhere for other “livable” reasons such as:
- Environmental impact. Water and wastewater treatment facilities consume a lot of energy. Replacing traditional sources of electricity with solar reduces the environmental impact of these facilities. So while they’re using solar power to clean water, they’re also improving the city’s air quality by reducing carbon emission.
- Ratepayer impact. We citizens don’t like seeing our bills for water and sewar going up. By moving to solar and reducing monthly energy costs, the City of Carmel is better able to keep rates low, now and for the long haul. The reason being is sunshine is free, natural gas is not. So don’t expect rate hikes from solar power.
- Community impact. By choosing to go solar, the City of Carmel is setting an example for the entire community and what we can achieve together with renewable energy. Hopefully, more municipal entities, schools, and businesses will follow suit. Reducing the city’s carbon footprint will result in a cleaner, healthier environment for all of us.
Solential will have a booth at the International Making Cities Livable Conference so if you plan to attend, hit me up. I’m happy to talk solar solutions and especially happy to talk about the millions in federal funding available to cities and counties, and in particular, schools districts and water/wastewater treatment plants, that can be used to improve operations and livability with solar. If you won’t be attending the conference, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-627-4530.