December 6, 2023

Jim Brainard has had an outstanding career as Carmel’s
7-term mayor and has received many honors including, most recently, the Sagamore of the Wabash award, the state’s highest honor. [1]

This post is a tribute to Mayor Brainard’s environmental legacy and climate leadership in Indiana, nationally and internationally.  Holding steadfast to the traditional core conservative value of protecting the environment, Mayor Brainard accepted fundamental climate science from the outset, even when it was not popular to do so.  He did not politicize the science but rather worked to spearhead many green initiatives to build a more sustainable and resilient city for all. His legacy is a testament to the power of local leaders in addressing global challenges like climate change.

Under Mayor Brainard’s administration, Carmel has become a shining example of sustainability. We want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Mayor Brainard for his exemplary environmental stewardship, and for his support of Carmel Green Initiative since we were first founded in 2008. 

In his remarks at the mayor’s final State of the City address, he shared this advice for the incoming mayor “We’re building our city for our children and grandchildren and people we don’t know, leaving them a gift that will sustain them as they grow and prosper.” [1]

Carmel Green Initiative looks forward to working with and supporting mayor-elect Sue Finkam to honor and build upon Mayor Brainard’s environmental legacy and climate leadership.

Brainard’s commitment to a sustainable future has set a standard that will inspire generations to come. Here are some of his accomplishments, achievements and awards:

  • Since 2005, Mayor Brainard has required that alternative fuel vehicles are purchased by city departments when available
  • Carmel has replaced almost all of its street lights with LED bulbs, resulting in a 48% reduction in energy consumption required to power those lights.
  • Using city design principles to build a more walkable city. The city has redesigned the downtown area to be more pedestrian friendly.
  • Installed more than 200 miles of trails and paths for bikers and walkers.
  • In 2017, Mayor Brainard supported and worked with Carmel High School students to write & then pass a climate resolution, making Carmel the first city in Indiana to do so.
  • As of 2019, Carmel has replaced 122 traditional signalized intersections with roundabouts more than any other U.S. city. This translates into a reduction of carbon emissions by 27,816 tons annually.     
  • The police department is switching its entire fleet of patrol cars to hybrids.
  • Carmel’s wastewater plan incorporates the biopasture system, which turns solid waste into fertilizer.
  • Carmel re-uses the methane gas that is a natural byproduct of the waste treatment process to heat the boilers used in the biosolids process as well as heat a maintenance building.
  • Carmel implemented a city-wide trash and recycling program that significantly reduced the number of garbage truck traffic and significantly increased recycling..
  • In 2020, Carmel installed two solar arrays on city property to help power its 106th street water plant and the wastewater treatment plan on Hazel Dell. 1 megawatt.
  • In 2019, the city conducted a greenhouse gas inventory with assistance from IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute.
  • In 2022, the city adopted a Climate Action Plan, with unanimous support from the City Council.
  • Supported a clean energy Request for Proposals (RFP) for Duke’s 2021 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).
  • Supported SB335 Climate Solutions Task Force bill
  • For many years, the mayor signed a proclamation for Earth Hour to promote energy conservation in Carmel.
  • Hosted several Earth Day events at the wastewater treatment plant.
  • During his tenure, park land, greenspace, and trails have increased from 40 acres to more than 800, including the linear Monon Greenway and Central Park.
  • Expanded the City’s urban forest.
  • Advocated for expanded net metering policy for Indiana, 2010.
  • Hosted a roundtable discussion with the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley and the Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew regarding climate preparedness and resiliency, 2013. Press release
  • Spoke about the benefits of electric vehicles at a National Plug-In Day event in Carmel, 2013.
  • In 2015, he traveled to four cities in India to represent the United States as part of the U.S. State Department’s speaker’s bureau. Also, in 2015 he was asked to speak on energy and climate policy at the German-American Centers in five German cities. In 2016, he was asked to speak on climate change and urban design in Rome, Italy, at the International Making Cities Livable Conference. Additionally, he has been a guest lecturer for Georgetown University, Butler University, Indiana University and Purdue University among others. 
  • Spoke at a statehouse rally in support of the Clean Power Plan, 2015.
  • In 2017, when SB309 to end net metering passed, the mayor supported Carmel Green Initiative’s solar community education and group purchase program. This program helped rooftop solar grow in Hamilton County.
  • Testified before Congress at the House Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change, outlining some of the numerous achievements that the city has completed, 2019
  • The mayor signed the Paris Climate Agreement of Sustainable Cities
  • Participated in a panel discussion at Citizen’s Climate Lobby annual conference, 2021
  • Participated in National Clean Energy Week, 2022
  • Mayor Brainard received the Hoosier Environmental Council’s “Elected Official of the Year” award in 2009.
  • Also in 2009, the U.S. Conference of Mayors selected Mayor Brainard as one of 16 mayors to be profiled on mayoral leadership and environmental protection.
  • The Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award – Mayor Brainard was honored at the 2013 International Making Cities Livable Conference for his inspirational leadership in creating a vibrant, multi-functional heart for the City of Carmel through the development of the City Center and the Arts & Design District including the Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Sustainable Indiana 2016 and the Indiana Bicentennial Commission presented Mayor Brainard and the city of Carmel its esteemed Bicentennial Green Legacy Community Award in recognition of the city’s implementation of a wide range of energy efficiency measures that save energy resources, reduce environmental impact and save tax dollars.
  • In 2023, Mayor Brainard received the Hoosier Resilience Hero award from IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute in recognition of his environmental legacy, many green initiatives and climate leadership throughout his tenure as mayor.

Current in Carmel Oak Tree Planted to Remember Mayor’s Environmental Legacy 12/19/23