Triangle Clean Cities celebrates 20 years of work

Written by: Florencia Loncan, Triangle Clean Cities CCUWDP intern

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Triangle Clean Cities, a program of Triangle J Council of Governments, celebrated its twentieth anniversary with a virtual summit on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

The event, titled Anticipating Change: The Future of Sustainable Transportation, highlighted what TCC has accomplished in its 20 years and looked at what opportunities await for alternative fuels and transportation management in the future.

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Designated by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2001, TCC has spent the past two decades promoting the use of alternative fuels and the reduction of regional dependence on petroleum-based fuels.

Triangle Clean Cities is proud to have served NC’s capital area for the past twenty years, and we couldn’t have arrived at this milestone without the support of all of our stakeholders,” Caitlin Rose, TCC program coordinator, said. “We’re proud to work with our fleet partners, both public and private, to improve local air quality and deploy sustainable transportation solutions.”

Servicing vehicle fleets, fuel providers, community leaders and other stakeholders under Triangle J Council of Governments’ jurisdiction, TCC provides its members with technical assistance, grant funding and networking opportunities to support the switch toward alternative fuels.

TCC co-coordinator, Sean Flaherty helped kick off the event with a reflective view of what TCC has accomplished in its two decades of service to the Triangle region.

“Despite numerous challenges in the recent past due to the pandemic, delays in funding streams and other obstacles,” Flaherty said. “I personally find it a true testament to the strong foundation and history of the coalition. The work has not only continued…it’s accelerating.”

In the past 10 years alone, the work done by TCC has resulted in 74 million gasoline gallon equivalent reductions and 456,000 tons of greenhouse gas emission reductions. These numbers encompass the alternative fuel vehicles that TCC has helped put onto the region’s roads and vehicle miles traveled reductions from its transportation demand management program.

Attendees heard about sustainable transportation policy at the state level from panel speakers Jennifer Weiss, senior advisor for Climate Change Policy at NCDOT, and Zach Pierce, climate change policy advisor at the Office of Governor Cooper. The two panelists covered a number of statewide initiatives and future potential funding opportunities.

“This work is not simple. It involves a web of public and private decision-makers at a local, regional, state and federal level and requires influencing the voluntary decision-making of millions of North Carolinians,” Pierce said. “While there are challenges…we collectively have the opportunity to improve people’s health and well-being, to ensure that North Carolina fully benefits economically from the transition underway to a clean energy economy, and to do our part on confronting climate change.”

Hana Creger, environmental equity program manager at the Greenlining Institute, presented next on equitable mobility in practice. The Greenlining Institute works to bring opportunities and a better quality of life to low-income communities and communities of color through a variety of initiatives including transportation. Creger began her presentation with a historical review of racist housing and transportation policies and how their impacts are still felt by communities of color today.

“We can’t talk about solutions for solving today’s transportation problems without first understanding how we got here,” Creger said.

From there, Creger outlined Greenlining Solutions, a mobility equity framework that serves as a transportation planning and decision-making tool to assess and compare various mobility strategies based on their equity outcomes that are customizable to center the needs and voices of marginalized communities.

“There is a time and a place for new mobility. I am all about it,” Cregar said.  “But that time has to come after a needs assessment to make sure that those mobility options are tailored and developed deployed in a way that meets specific needs.”

Rick Longobart, fleet manager of the City of Raleigh, concluded the event’s panelist presentations with a talk on the existing modes and future goals of sustainable transportation seen within the City of Raleigh.

Longobart emphasized the importance of storytelling when it comes to integrating sustainable transportation options into fleets, mentioning that there can be both quantifiable and “soft evidence of measured success, that could very well be … another agency asking you questions about how you accomplished it.”

Sharing case studies and evidence that those using the technology benefit from it in intangible ways can be just as important to document the success of a sustainable fleet program as measurable data.

Accomplishing so much in only 20 years, Triangle Clean Cities is looking forward to the next two decades being filled with innovative technologies, mobility equity and more.

Anyone who could not attend the virtual event on Nov. 17 is invited to watch the recording available on YouTube. To keep informed about what TCC plans to accomplish in the future sign up for its monthly newsletter.

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