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Hall sees green in recycling partnership
Chestatee High School seniors from left: Sam Wilson, 17, Lauren Floyd, 18, Kristen Howard, 17, and Breanna Chapman, 17, recycle newspapers Monday. Every week, the school collects newspapers, plastic bottles and aluminum cans to recycle. Schools are part of Hall County’s environmental management system partnership. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Environmental management system

More information: Contact Hall County natural resources coordinator Rick Foote at

Hall County kicked off its environmental management system Monday at the Lanier Charter Career Academy, becoming just the second county in the state to implement such a green partnership.

The system will bring partners from local governments, industries, schools and nonprofits together to improve energy efficiency, save costs and promote sustainability.

“We’re trying to accomplish more and more efficiently by working together,” said natural resources coordinator Rick Foote.

Steve Bradley, the Bartow County administrator, spoke to the commission about blazing the trail for environmental management systems in the state.

“A lot of it is common sense. It does help the bottom line,” Bradley said. “We knew it was a lot about community awareness, about demonstrating that efficiency and conservation made sense. A lot of businesses embraced it.”
He said he was glad to see Hall County following their lead.

“In the end all of our citizens will become aware of these important issues,” Bradley said.

Commissioner Ashley Bell brought the concept before the commission in September 2009. He pointed out that Gainesville City Schools was able to save $120,000 a year by appointing someone to make sure all lights and computers are turned off at the end of the day.

“Small things like that means so much to taxpayers,” Bell said. “We did this to help save money. And by saving money we are also helping save the environment.”

Many of the partners already have their own green efforts, but the collaboration will create more potential for grant funding.

Foote said the key to the program is that it is a voluntary and non-regulatory way to save costs and help the environment.

There are a number of organizations that have already pledged their support, including the city of Flowery Branch, ZF Industries, SKF, Gainesville Public Utilities Department, Elachee Nature Center and Lanier Career Academy.

The environmental management system will be funded through grant money.

Foote said it’s important for Hall County to get started in the green movement now. Any organization is welcome to join the partnership.

“We’re looking to be proactive, get involved and not be left behind,” Foote said.