Southeast Sustainability Directors Network

Urban Agriculture Webinar on 12/12

Join Peter Nierengarten (Fayetteville, AR) and Jake Tisinger (Knoxville, TN) for a discussion of urban agriculture and urban food systems on Thursday, 12/12 at 11 am EST. RSVP by replying to this email, or to the calendar invitation following this email. 

Funding for Collaboration around Adaptation and Resilience Planning

USDN has announced a new funding opportunity to support regional network collaboration projects dealing with adaptation and resilience planning and/or implementation activities. A collaboration project should involve cities working together to achieve a shared, measurable goal. It should involve work that goes beyond exchange of information between cities and learning together or capacity building, and should advance the cities’ work in adaptation and resilience. The total funding available is $80,000, with a maximum grant of $40,000.

If you'd like to get involved in a potential SSDN project, please join an RFP brainstorm call on Monday the 18th, at 9 am EST (712-432-1500, access code 267303#). For more information, email Maggie Ullman or David Jones or visit the USDN website

Interview with: Erin Gill

Erin GillThis month, we interview Erin Gill, Director of the Office of Sustainability, Knoxville, TN. 

What are you working on right now that you are most excited about?
I’m really excited about our IBM Smarter Cities Initiative. As an IBM Smarter City, we received expert assistance from IBM earlier this year to help us solve a specific challenge. The challenge we posed to the IBM team is that the local community spends millions of dollars annually helping people pay their utility bills. However, these assistance programs aren’t well coordinated with energy efficiency and weatherization programs. We asked the IBM experts to help us think through how to connect these two approaches, ultimately moving away from the “band-aid” response of simply paying utility bills to the more lasting solution of lowering bills through energy efficiency. 

We’ve just launched into trying to implement IBM’s recommendations. To do so, we’ve brought together over 20 stakeholders who are already addressing these issues, but haven’t been working directly together.  It’s exciting because this program gives us an opportunity to address two notorious issues for energy efficiency: 1) addressing efficiency in lower income housing sectors, where residents have more limited ability to pay for efficiency upgrades, and 2) overcoming the split incentive problem facing rental communities, where tenants face high utility bills because landlords don’t have a strong incentive to invest in energy efficiency improvements.

What do you want to know from others in SSDN? What provocative questions do you have for your colleagues around the Southeast?
Has anyone launched community engagement programs that are targeting lower income communities? What models or lessons learned can you share? Answer here

What led you to this work?
I realized back in my junior year of college that while other interests had come and gone, my passion for promoting environmental responsibility had remained constant. Despite being a History major, I decided to try to make a career out of it. I had the opportunity early on to work with the City of Knoxville during the first few years of their Energy & Sustainability Initiative. That experience confirmed that the local policy scene was where I wanted to be. I loved being able to see the results of my work unfold in the community I was living in, and I found the local approach much more attractive than politics at the federal or international level. Not knowing if I’d be back, I left the City in 2010 to get a Master of Environmental Management degree focused on local, state, and regional sustainability policies. That led me to a private sector job in Atlanta, and earlier this year, I had the opportunity to re-join the City. I’m thrilled to be back and looking forward to shaping the next phase of Knoxville’s Sustainability program! 

Top Posts from the USDN Website

Your colleagues around the Southeast have been sharing updates and information through Here are a few of the recent popular posts:

Be sure to include 'Southeast' in the 'Who should see this post' field on the website so your SSDN colleagues can view your post. If you have any questions, please reply to this email. 

About SSDN

SSDN is an unaffiliated peer to peer network that is inclusive of municipal professionals working in the field of sustainability, and effective at networking, best practice sharing, and eventually collaborating together on larger priorities for the region.

We seek to become a network whose priorities are set by network members for network members. The Southeast Network strives to effectively support one another to successfully capture funding opportunities, influence sustainable policies and programs at the local and state levels, and lead the advancement of national sustainability.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp