Six localities of the Virginia Peninsula of Hampton Roads participated in both the first and the second annual Climate Solutions Roundtable, hosted by the York River Group Sierra Club. These were Hampton, James City County, Poquoson, Newport News, Williamsburg, and York County. Each locality is presently engaged in implementing activities which decrease the use of fossil fuels, addressing the immediate need to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Below is a summary of their activities, taken from their presentations at the Second Climate Solutions Roundtable on September 15, 2021.
In the following summaries, the main categories we highlight are: solar usage, energy efficiency in buildings, LED lighting, electric vehicle fleet and EV charging stations.
For a more complete look at some of the localities’ actions, we have added links to their slide presentations. We will hold our third Climate Action Roundtable on September 21, 2022, for the localities located on the Lower Virginia Peninsula. We look forward to hearing about more actions by these localities and other Hampton Roads localities.
SolSmart is a national program under the US Department of Energy. It provides no-cost technical assistance to cities, counties and regional organizations, streamlining requirements to encourage solar development in communities.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, with 4 categories: certified, silver, gold, and platinum. Criteria for designation include where buildings are located, building materials used, energy and water efficiency, and indoor environment.
City of Hampton
The 2020 census population of Hampton was 137,148.
Geographical size of Hampton: 136 sq. mi. of which 51 is land and 85 is water.
Presentation by Carolyn Heaps, newly hired resiliency officer for the City of Hampton, replacing David Imburgia. David presented slides of Hampton’s resiliency plans, to address problematic flooding issues in the city, at our first climate solutions roundtable in September 2020, which are in the link.
Carolyn spoke about the plans to address several issues: solar, energy efficient buildings, and transportation.
Renewable Energy Generation: The City is enabling residential solar and wind by including it by-right in the zoning ordinance. It is considering joining Virginia’s SolSmart program to encourage solar uptake. It has enstalled 40W LED off-grid solar lighting at YH Thomas Community Center. A City Solar feasibility study for 13 city-owned buildings was completed in May 2021 and found that the City should prioritize solar carports as well as roof-mounted carports. the City continues to explore the topic of solar.
Building Efficiency: City policy dictates all new facilities be built to LEED Silver standards. The City is conducting an Asset Management Plan and Program to address building energy consumption and sustainability, which will result in a master plan for facility use.
Transportation: Public Works is exploring transition of light vehicles to EV. The City has purchased some hybrid fleet vehicles and conducted aftermarket conversions of ambulances to electric. The Bike Walk Hampton plan implementation and the Bicycle Pedestrian Committee work to expand alternative transportation options to single occupancy vehicles. The bike and pedestrian plans include a “loop trail” that will create connections around the Newmarket Creek watershed.
This link is to the Hampton presentation at the first Climate Solutions Roundtable on September 16, 2020, with a focus on resiliency from future flooding events.
James City County
The 2020 census population of James City County was 78,254.
Geographical size of James City County: 179 sq. mi. of which 142 is land and 37 is water.
The presenter was Cassie Cordova, the newly hired Environmental Sustainability Coordinator, filling a position held earlier in James City County.
Solar: Solar farms have been installed in two privately owned locations, at Rochambeau and at Norge. The County is moving ahead on a solar farm at Jolly Pond, located over a capped landfill. Residents may install solar panels via the SolSmart program, and 118 applications have been received.
Electric Vehicles: The County is in the process of switching from gas to electric fueled utility carts. They have 12 trucks and 5 ground mowers operating with propane gas plus 7 vehicles which are hybrid; more are planned in coming years.
Electric School Buses: Four are operating, shared with Williamsburg.
Energy Efficient Buildings: Since 2010, all new county buildings need to be LEED certified silver or better. Of the 5 new buildings, two are silver and three are a higher category of gold certified. Some of their buildings have geothermal systems.
Energy Efficiency Lighting: A conversion to LED lighting is ongoing.
Other projects include stormwater management, addressing urban heat islands, and stream restoration.
Cassie received a master’s degree in global sustainability and worked on bio digesters, which she might like to introduce in JCC, as they have advantages in breaking down some types of waste and converting to a nitrogen-rich fertilizer and to methane, basically a clean-burning fuel.
This link is to the James City County presentation at the Climate Solutions Roundtable on September 15, 2021.
City of Newport News
The 2020 census population of Newport News was 186,247.
Geographical size of Newport News: 120 sq. mi. of which 69 is land and 51 is water.
The presenter was the sustainability manager, Jennifer Privette, who has been with the city since 2010 and holds several positions with regional sustainability networks. Her work is exemplary and a model for other localities.
Solar: Newport News Public Schools have entered into a power purchase agreement to install solar panels on roof tops of 5 schools and ground-mounted at 2 schools. Residents may apply for solar arrays through the City, and the number of applications is continuing to grow. The City has achieved SolSmart Bronze Designation, a national program. The city collaborated with Christopher Newport University’s Center for Sustainability in Education Fellowship Program to receive the SolSmart designation.
EV Charging Stations: Over a dozen are installed throughout the city’s parking garages, with plans to add more.
Vehicle Fleet: 39 police utility hybrid vehicles and another 38 being prepped for service. The newer hybrids are more fuel efficient. They are using propane fuel, less expensive and cleaner burning.
Water Metering Upgrade: This enables the detection of water leaks with Advanced Metering Infrastructure in place.
This link is to the September 15, 2021, Newport News slide presentation by Jennifer at the Climate Solutions Roundtable, showing these and other actions taken by Newport News. Of particular interest are the international cycling competition to reduce carbon emissions through biking; the Bee Byway pollinator corridor; and a food forest in southeast Newport News.
City of Poquoson
The 2020 census population of Poquoson was 12,460.
Geographical size of Poquoson: 78 sq. mi. of which 15 is land and 63 is water.
The presenter was Tonya O’Connell, Assistant City Manager.
Solar: Schools are working to enter into a contract to install solar panels on the four schools in Poquoson.
Energy Efficiency Lighting: LED lighting has been placed along streets and parking lots in the City and will continue as funding permits.
Vehicle Fleet: Some hybrid vehicles have been added to the City fleet.
Pedestrian walkways and parks: Several small parks have been created in the City and six acres were purchased for a future green park with a picnic shelter. A grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation allowed for the construction of sidewalks connecting the school campuses.
City of Williamsburg
The 2020 census population of Williamsburg was 15,425.
Geographical size of Williamsburg: 9.1 sq. mi. of which 8.9 is land and 0.2 is water
Presented by Williamsburg Councilmember Caleb Rogers.
Recycling program: The City collects paper, used motor oil, metals and tires. It manages a curbside leaf collection program that uses the mulched leaves as compost for city projects.
Bicycle and pedestrian trail: This trail connects sections of the City with plans to encircle the City.
Energy Efficiency: LEED silver classification for the Stryker and municipal building.
Electric School Buses: Four are operating, shared with James City County.
EV Charging Stations: There is a total of 13 throughout the City.
Sustainability Plan: Michele DeWitt, promoted to Assistant City Manager, will also direct a sustainability plan for the City.
The 2020 census population of York County was 70,045.
Geographical size of York County: 215 sq. mi. of which 105 is land and 110 is water
Presenter was Samantha McNeil, York County Outreach Coordinator for Public Works.
EV Charging Stations: 9 located throughout the county accessible to the public. There are future plans to install a charging station at Vehicle Maintenance for future EV fleet vehicles.
Vehicle fleet: Several vehicles are either fully electric or hybrid, with plans to add more. 18 vehicles have been converted to use propane fuel, as it is less expensive, cleaner burning, and a rebate is included.
Energy Efficiency: A new engineering manager with energy efficiency experience was recently hired, and the County will incorporate energy efficiency into new building and renovation projects. Fire Station #1 was built last year with LEED silver certification. York Library is receiving EE renovations, and the new Law Enforcement Center is being designed to be LEED certified.
Energy Efficiency Lighting: Many streetlights and outdoor lighting at sports fields are being replaced with LED lighting, which uses one-third the energy. Power is provided in some areas by geothermal, specifically at the riverwalk at the Yorktown Waterfront.
This link is to the York County presentation at the Climate Solutions Roundtable on September 15, 2021, showing these and additional actions being taken by York County.