Green City Day: How Huntsville is building a sustainable community

single-meta-cal September 29, 2023

Building sustainable spaces is no longer an option for growing metros like Huntsville – it’s a necessity.  

From high-tech parking decks to excelling in the Valley Sustainable Communities Program, the City of Huntsville is committed to creating a community for the future. 

“Every aspect of what we do and build in this city has sustainability in mind,” Mayor Tommy Battle said. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done so far and the goals we have that will benefit Huntsville residents for generations to come.” 

Oct. 1 is recognized as “Green City Day.” To recognize the occasion, learn how Huntsville is building a sustainable city for its residents. 

Sustainable structures 

The City’s General Services Department always considers longevity and energy efficiency  when creating new City-owned buildings and structures. 

The department is responsible for: 

  • Maintaining LED lighting in all City parking lots and buildings 
  • Implementing systems in City facilities to adjust ventilation when not in use 
  • Utilizing specialized energy software to monitor the City’s utility usage 

City facilities are also made more sustainable through the work of the Community Development Office, Zoning Department and Huntsville Utilities. Learn more here. 

Greener spaces 

The Rocket City’s BIG Picture Plan includes miles and miles of green space for residents of all ages to enjoy. 

A sign reading "Big Cove Creek Greenway" next to a paved pathway.

Huntsville is home to more than 70 miles of greenways – with even more on the way.

The plan includes an expansion from about 73 miles of greenways and trails to over 300 miles throughout the City. Those include everything from river trails to pedestrian/bike complete streets, paved paths and hiking trails. 

The City also boasts more than 65 parks across 3,000 acres as well as four nature preserves. 

The preserves fall under the purview of Huntsville’s Green Team – an energetic group that aims to make Huntsville sustainable through litter prevention, environmental education, tree planting initiatives and programs like Adopt-A-Spot and Green Ambassadors.  

A smart commute 

Unlike larger municipalities, Huntsville residents have a manageable commute thanks to quality roads and our public transportation system. 

Typically, Huntsville streets contain two layers of asphalt: a binder and a wearing course, both crafted with recycled asphalt product.  

Huntsville Transit also operates low-emission, sulfur-diesel buses on 11 routes throughout the community. With more than 3,000 riders per day, it’s greener to ditch your solo commute and #TryTransit.  

Making the grade 

The City’s Natural Resources Department doesn’t just monitor air quality and greenhouse gases – they also produce transparent reports on their findings. 

The Air Quality Report is typically updated every three years, while the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory is updated every five years. Recent findings show the Rocket City meets all federal air quality standards. 

“Based on the most recent statistical analyses, trends in both greenhouse gas emissions and ambient air pollutant concentrations are strongly downward,” said Darlene Duerr, Interim Natural Resources Director. 

View all air quality and greenhouse gas emission reports here. 

Looking ahead 

Members of the Huntsville Sustainability Committee, led by Marie Bostick, earlier this year.

Members of the Huntsville Environmental Sustainability Committee.

Earlier this year, Mayor Battle announced plans to establish a Sustainability Commission following the release of a report from the Huntsville Environmental Sustainability Committee (HESC). 

Mayor Battle addressed the commission in his 2023 State of the City address. 

“Departments like Natural Resources and Water Pollution Control will now be aided by a Sustainability Commission,” he said. “Last year, we invited a stakeholder group to look at the City’s sustainability efforts and make recommendations, which included the creation of an advisory committee to ensure our environmental goals are achieved.” 

The report offered steps to move ahead with the City’s sustainability initiatives. Categories examined in the report include transportation, energy, food security, natural environment and built environment. 

View the full report here. 

Learn more about the City of Huntsville’s sustainability initiatives here and follow Green Team on Facebook, X and Instagram.