A Climate Conversation with Doug Hooker, Executive Director of the Atlanta Regional Commission

Atlanta Regional Commission climate solutions

What does the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) do, and how is the organization helping to advance climate solutions in the Atlanta area? Blair Beasley of Drawdown Georgia recently sat down with Doug Hooker, executive director of the ARC, to discuss the climate initiatives supported by the organization -- from Climate Conscious Communities to energy efficiency to green transportation alternatives.

 

Doug Hooker is a Georgia native and graduate of Georgia Tech. Trained as a mechanical engineer, he began his career with Georgia Power, where he worked as a design engineer, project manager, and eventually as an alternative energy technology policy analyst. That’s when he first became interested in the possibility of a zero carbon future.

Now the executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, Doug oversees the organization’s responsibility for everything from long-range planning related to transportation and water supply management to workforce development training to community development, including arts and culture.

ARC is in the business of climate solutions. Long-range transportation planners try to help craft strategies that reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road. The ARC runs a suite of services that helps employers and employees look for alternative ways of commuting to work, including telework, so the program saw tremendous growth during the pandemic.

Planning for mass transit as well as bicycle and pedestrian trails is also handled by the Commission. One recent project involves the creation of a new regional trails plan that could result in one of the widest and largest regional trail systems in the nation if and when all of the anticipated projects can be seen to fruition.

For more than 10 years, the ARC has also managed the Green Communities Program, a voluntary certification program that incentivizes local governments to think more holistically about sustainability and to encourage them to be champions for sustainable efforts within their communities. Doug believes that one reason this program has been so effective is that it leverages community pride and beneficial competition - the ARC has found that when one community earns designation as a Green Community or Climate Conscious Community, neighboring leaders are inspired to achieve that recognition in their own backyards.

Learn more about these initiatives, as well as the challenges that the ARC faces in reducing emissions and building resiliency in Atlanta, by watching Blair’s complete conversation with Doug in the video embedded above, or by visiting the Drawdown Georgia YouTube channel.

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