Buildings use more than 40% of the nation's energy, therefore ever building needs to be as energy efficient as possible. The city recognizes the need for the best environmental practices, which is why it follows LEED guidelines on all of the new construction and major renovations. When the city began planning a new Fire Station #3 on Williamson Road, one of the goals was to build the facility using Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Completed in early 2009, it achieved LEED Gold Certification for such features as recycled construction materials, high-performance heating and cooling, a food composter, and a rainwater harvesting system that provides gray water for flushing toilets and washing vehicles. The city continues to follow LEED protocol and has certified the following buildings.
In 2005 the City of Roanoke made a strategic change in thinking about buildings and energy. After serious consideration of how to improve the building portfolio's energy performance, the city committed to creating an "internal energy team". The city would invest in staff with a high level of profession proficiency in HVAC, electrical and plumbing skills. Therefore, making the team fully responsible for the maintenance and operations of all the buildings operational needs and ultimately performance. The first order of business was to assess all of the city's buildings to identify maintenance needs and capital improvements. Next, a complete Operations and Maintenance program was established and a Capital Improvement schedule was developed, these programs were prioritized on need and available funding.
The city aggressively converted all the florescent lighting to high efficiency lights and scheduled additional lighting to be retrofitted in a systematic way. The staff continued to implement the energy saving strategy over the years. At the end of 2012 the electric use in city building had been reduced by a 13%. When calculating the savings of avoided energy costs between 2005 verses 2012, even with the cost of electricity cost escalating, the city saved $577,000 with the energy program. The city has completed numerous HVAC projects and continues to save money and improve energy efficiency.
The Noel C. Taylor Municipal Building has had all of its fluorescent lighting fixtures upgraded from old-style T-12 fluorescent lighting tubes to more efficient T-8s, which use less energy while emitting brighter light. In addition, motion-sensitive switches have been installed in a number of offices, conference rooms, rest rooms and stairwells so that lighting is turned off when these spaces are not in use. Another initiative involves installation of high-efficiency LED lights in traffic signals at approximately 60 major intersections around the city. These units consume 90 % less energy than conventional traffic signals. LED lighting components are also used in many city vehicles, especially Police and Fire.
Sustainable TransportationIn 2006, Fleet began to seek opportunities to improve the energy efficiency and the environmental cost of its operations. The first step was to use of a 5% biodiesel (B5) fuel mix for over 350 pieces of heavy equipment, biodiesel reduces toxic emissions and runs much cleaner than gasoline. In addition, all gasoline-powered vehicles are operating on E-10 ethanol, which is also cleaner. Over the years these successful changes have lead to the use of propane in the compatible equipment, and in some select vehicles. Not only is propane much better for the environment but it is also much less expensive than gasoline. There is a plan in place for a Compressed Natural Gas station to be built on the premises in the near future.
The city has eight hybrid vehicles in its fleet, three all-electric vehicles, with several more on order, for appropriate uses. For community use the city has two 240 volts, "Level 2" electric chargers at the Virginia Museum of Transportation at 303 Norfolk Avenue and at the River House on 806 Wasena Avenue SW. Last spring the city added a "Level 3" quick charger, located in the heart of downtown, adjacent to the Well Fargo Plaza between Norfolk and Salem Avenues.
Ranked as a Top Digital City, the City's Department of Technology fully embraces the critical objective of fully integrating sustainable practices into all of the operations of city employees and services that we provide.
- Energy Star Equipment – or equivalent energy performance when Energy Star is not available.
- Consolidated Servers – reduced the number of servers thru the use virtualization software.
- Automated Irrigation System – the municipal building’s green roof has a sophisticated weather station that monitors evapotranspiration in plants to generate watering with harvested rainwater.
- IT Energy Retrofit - Plans are being developed for a major retrofit of the IT department which will include improved heating and cooling, lighting, equipment assessment and improved operational efficiency, improved back-up generators.