A Texas-based firm has been chosen to compile Tulsa's first citywide sustainability plan and is expected to have the finished document in the hands of city officials before the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2011.
Brett Fidler, director of the Office of Sustainability, said a committee that reviewed proposals from firms interested in compiling the plan recommended to Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. on Dec. 16 that the city contract with the URS Corporation -- which is based in Austin but maintains a Tulsa office at 1437 S. Boulder Ave. -- to perform the work.
The city had budgeted $320,000 for the project, but URS bid the work at slightly less than $277,000 -- a savings of more than $40,000 that likely will be used to fund other sustainability work in Tulsa, Fidler said.
The figures included in the bids the city received varied widely, Fidler said, explaining that they ranged from $220,000 to $320,000. The URS bid was the second lowest.
"But there were some other things included in their proposal that made their value greater," he said, adding that the company has partnered with another firm that produces monitoring software, which will allow the city to avoid some costly set-up and subscription fees.
In its bid, URS also partnered with a handful of local firms, including Rex Public Relations, a firm that was involved in the PLANiTULSA comprehensive plan update process.
Ultimately, URS provided the most well-rounded bid, he said.
"It seemed to be very much in tune with what the city wanted, practically and politically," Fidler said. "It fit well in the current political climate. It was focused on saving the city money. And we liked the style of the community outreach plan they recommended."
The plan is intended to help the city identify opportunities for the city to save resources and money, reduce its environmental impact, improve air quality, promote a green economy, provide sustainability education and outreach to citizens and businesses, guide decision making and policy making, and help Tulsa become a regional leader in sustainable government.
Specifically, the city has indicated it wants to receive a plan that outlines methods to help Tulsa reach such goals as reducing energy consumption citywide by at least 25 percent, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent, obtaining 10 percent of energy from renewable resources, and developing a plan to increase the number of alternative fuel vehicles to 20 percent of the total city fleet -- all by December 2012.
Fidler said a contract would still have to be negotiated with URS, and because the project is being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy-administered Energy Efficiency Block Grant program, the two sides face a deadline of the third week in January for having that deal in place. All the money appropriated for the project must be spent by July 2012.
Fidler said he didn't anticipate any problem in meeting that deadline.
"Their proposal matched the (request for proposals) well, and they didn't suggest any changes," he said. "It's pretty straightforward."
Fidler said the city also wanted a sustainability plan that complemented, instead of competing with, PLANiTULSA. The decision by URS to partner with Rex Public Relations made its bid more attractive, he said.
URS indicated in its bid it will take four months to complete the plan, which was the shortest timeline of any of the proposals his committee reviewed, Fidler said.
"That's actually really fast," he said. "But when we asked them about that, they answered (in a satisfactory manner) about why their's was shorter. Four months is really short, because a lot of cities spend a year or a year and a half coming up with their sustainability plan. But this is going to be very utilitarian."
Fidler hopes to have the plan in his hands by early summer.
"Before the beginning of the next fiscal year is what we're looking at," he said. "As we move forward, we also might be able to add some things to the scope of the project."
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