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Perhaps a bigger question is what is the City doing? Here are just a few ways the City is doing their part to decrease our carbon footprint:
Recycling - Various departments are recycling materials
Central Fleet has received the Environmental Enterprise (E2) designation from the Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) Virginia Environmental Excellence Program. The City garage also recycles all used oil and anti-freeze in addition to paper, plastic, glass and cardboard. There are currently 24 hybrid vehicles in the fleet which reduces the amount of City funds spent on gas. Their current challenge presented by the City Manager is a 10% fuel reduction.
Substituting hazardous material with non-hazardous. Efforts have been made by various departments and divisions, namely Public Works, Central Fleet, and Mosquito Control.
Paper use reduction measures (use of scanner/copiers, two-sided printing, email, etc.)
The City participates in the Dell computer recycling return program.
Creation of an Urban Forest Management Plan. The quantified values of Chesapeake's urban forest tree canopy cover at 36% in terms of stormwater management, pollution uptake and energy conservation, is $1.065 billion. Increasing this tree canopy to the recommended 40% would see an increase in quantified values to the sum of $1.124 billion.
Continued support and sponsorship of environmental programs that keep Chesapeake beautiful. Programs range from Adopt a Highway litter programs to storm drain marker programs for catch basins.
In 2008 Chesapeake participated in the Virginia Municipal League’s (VML) “Green Government Challenge”, a friendly competition among Virginia local governments to encourage specific environmental policies and practical actions that reduce carbon emissions. We are one of only 26 local governments in the state to attain this designation.
By implementing some new initiatives and documenting some existing programs, Chesapeake completed the challenge and was one of only 26 Virginia local governments to be designated as a “Green Government” by the VML.
Stop the Mowing - Start the Growing
Currently the City of Chesapeake expends significant resources to mow vast portions of city property, at an average cost of $100-$165 per acre. The largest properties are schools, parks, and expressways. By reducing the mowing of these properties by 10-20%, numerous benefits could be realized: saving the actual cost of mowing, and increasing the known benefits of the urban forest in terms of storm water retention, pollution uptake, water quality, energy conservation, and the many other social, aesthetic, functional, economic, and recreational benefits.
The double benefit of this type of project is that while mowing cost is saved, the additional benefits of the urban forest are gained. This is only one example of reducing mowing, while retaining the objective and purpose of the property, providing additional amenities such as a perimeter trail, and the other benefits of the urban forest. Multiplying this approach and using it where applicable on the 66 different school properties totaling 1,723 acres, many parks, and roadways and other municipal grounds, can potentially save the city a lot of money, gain additional benefits, and help move towards attaining the 40% average tree canopy goal recommended in the Urban forest Management Plan.
This type of reforestation is legally supported by the "Reforestation Guidelines" contained in Chesapeake Zoning Ordinance 19-600, Specifications Manual. When posted with "Reforestation" signs, the reforestation area is no longer subject to maximum vegetation height restrictions.
Article provided by: Mik Lestyan, Chesapeake City Arborist/Urban forester
Photo caption: The above pictures from the Centerville Park Soccer Complex depict the theme of this article. On the left, is a view of the southern entrance area in Oct. 2008, on the right, (after volunteer plantings of 226 trees in November 2008), the same site, in August 2009. When completed, the complex will have a 30’ reforested buffer around the entire 9,105’ perimeter, taking approximately 6.25 acres out of mowing. This will produce a savings of approximately $18,750 to $31,000 in mowing costs.