Mayor Turner Honored for Leadership on Climate Action
December 17, 2021 -- Today, Mayor Turner and the Sunnyside Landfill Solar Project were honored by the 15th Annual Mayors Climate Protection Awards, along with 12 other mayors. The Climate Protection Awards are made possible through a partnership between the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Walmart.
Winning mayors are honored for exemplary city programs that demonstrate how local climate action can reduce energy use and carbon emissions and protect local communities.
Since 1970, the site of the former Sunnyside Landfill has sat dormant as a blight on the historically underserved neighborhood. Under the leadership of Mayor Turner and the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability, the landfill will be reimagined as the largest urban solar farm in the country. Once completed, the Sunnyside Solar Farm will provide enough renewable energy to power 5,000 homes, preventing an estimated 120 million pounds of carbon from polluting the air. The solar farm will create jobs that train and hire locally and will approach matters of environmental justice in an equitable manner.
“The Sunnyside Landfill Solar Project will significantly transform a former landfill in our city into one of the largest urban solar farms in the country,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “For decades, the 240-acre landfill in Sunnyside—one of the oldest African American communities in the city—has contributed to the stagnation of the neighborhood’s economy and presented serious health and safety concerns. This project is an example of how cities can work with the community to address long-standing environmental justice concerns holistically, create green jobs, and generate renewable energy in the process. The City of Houston is honored to receive this award and we thank the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Walmart for their continued leadership as we all work to address the climate crisis.”
Accepting the award on Mayor Turner's behalf was Priya Zachariah, Chief Resilience and Sustainability Officer for the City of Houston.
“Mayors are demonstrating how local action is addressing the growing climate challenges before our cities, our nation and the world,” said USCM President Dayton (OH) Mayor Nan Whaley. “Whether it is developing solar energy systems to bring new life and opportunity to blighted neighborhoods or accelerating the transition to electric vehicles in our cities, their efforts are making changes locally that will lead us to a healthier and more prosperous future.”
“We applaud these award-winning mayors for their strong climate leadership and successful local action, showing how we can confront our growing climate challenges,” said Amy Hill, Senior Director for Walmart. “We are especially attuned to the actions of this year’s winners – developing solar energy to power city operations and “electrifying” the transportation sector – which are top priorities for our company in reducing our carbon output.”
“In a year of renewed international and national deliberations over how to reduce our global carbon dependency, it is the mayors who are leading the way and showing us the path forward through local climate action,” said Tom Cochran, USCM CEO and Executive Director. “These mayors remind all of us that local climate action is a difference-maker. The creativity and imagination in crafting theses local initiatives should serve as an inspiration to others, especially for leaders in our nation’s capital.”
Full descriptions of the 2021 Mayors Climate Protection Awards winning programs can be found at: https://www.usmayors.org/climateprotection/2021awards/