PROFILE: Peter Nierengarten, Sustainability Director, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Peter Nierengarten first got involved with SSDN in 2012 after he was exposed to the regional network concept at a USDN conference in Portland. It was there that he met Maggie Ullman and Rob Phocas, who lured him to a regional meeting the following year in Chattanooga. From there, he joined the steering committee and soon shifted into the role of cochair in 2014. Peter has served as a cochair of SSDN since 2014 and transitioned out of his role after the 2016 annual meeting in Atlanta. Peter has been able to help guide SSDN through several changes during this time, but something he’s most proud of is assisting with the standardization and streamlining of membership requirements and a new dues structure for the organization. He hopes this will provide a more sustainable financial future in the long-term.
Peter is still planning to play an active role in SSDN and is excited to encourage growth among the network and develop younger members into leadership roles. He also looks forward to providing a link between USDN and SSDN, and helping those who don’t have access to services USDN provides find a network of similar support within SSDN.
What have you been working on?
I’ve been working on several long-term and new initiatives with his team in Fayetteville. A sampling of projects includes a Bike Share program, working with Parks & Rec to revise the City’s landscape master plan to include urban forest protection, Bicycle Friendly Communities (Silver status) – If they get this, they’ll be one of only five in the south. Another focus for the City has been recycling and waste-reduction initiatives such as a collection and composting pilot project and piloting single stream recycling. The City has also been encouraging the use of PACE – Property Assessed Clean Energy – in more communities as an energy financing tool to allow homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements.
My department also created an unusual merger within the City by taking over the City’s paid parking department. At first this seems like an unlikely partnership, but there’s a ton of opportunity to create more parking for bicycles and alternate transit, look at surface parking areas in a way that could create a more vibrant urban fabric and influence smart growth strategies.
What make sustainability unique in your area?
Fayetteville is a college town which makes it easier to do my job here because environmental initiatives are more acceptable and the community is much more supportive than elsewhere in Arkansas. The university is the area’s largest employer so it definitely has an influence on my work. The Walton Family Foundation partnerships also provide support as funders for bicycling initiatives and quality of life initiatives.
What are you most proud of?
The experience of being a cochair was a great professional growth opportunity for both SSDN and at the City for me to develop leadership skills. I’m proud of my efforts in standardizing and streamlining membership requirements and dues structure for a more sustainable financial footing.