City Energy Savings Mean Spending Cuts

The greening of Charlottesville is saving the city money, Henry Graff recently reported for NBC 29. (Weirdly, they don’t seem to date their stories on their website.) Conservation is fundamentally about reducing the consumption of resources, and consuming resources costs money. The water is reused when washing buses, they’ve replaced drafty windows, installed motion sensors to activate lights in some buildings, and, of course, installed a green roof on city hall. The city has spent $1.3M on energy-saving measures in the past five years, and it’s already recouped $561,000 in energy bills in the last two years alone.

Media General, in an uncredited story, reports today that the county office building’s green roof is actually a tourist destination. Lee Catlin says that hundreds of folks are visiting it each year, including representatives from other municipalities coming to check it out.

11 thoughts on “City Energy Savings Mean Spending Cuts”

  1. Anything the city is saving is being passed along to me in higher gas, water and sewer fees. So much for savings on the city’s part.
    Secondly, not at all related…I see on council agenda for 7/21/08 that they are having the 1st of 2 readings for the reimbursment of the YMCA in the amount of $5,750. What in the hell is this for? Haven’t we already given those professional beggars enough of our land and money for a project that should never have taken life in the first place?

  2. Jogger, those higher gas, water and sewer fees I’d argue were due to previous bad environmental policies. For example, why is water and sewer going up? The unsustainable development that we allowed to go unchecked for so long. In fact, I bet a measurable amount of your bills can even be traced directly to the Biscuit Run development.

    I’ve always said that good environmental policy is good economic policy over the long term. Unfortunately, the inverse is also true, and thus we have the current economic situation. It’s what happens when you elect a tree-hating puppy-kicking oil man.

  3. Check out the Eliz Kolbert article on the huge reduction in energy use on the Danish isle of Samso (last week’s New Yorker–can’t find a link). If our fair city wants to get beyond green rhetoric, we need a comprehensive plan along these lines.

  4. No matter what was done here water, gas, and electric would be going up. The only way to save money is to use less of a resource. Water rate would have gone up if the growth rates were zero. There has been a need for better treatment plants and upgraded sewer for some time.

    Again with our low growth rate we are luckly the water & sewer rates aren’t much higher than they are now.

  5. Actually, the city’s population has yet to reach 41,000, so the city’s rate, which is different from the county’s is not due to population increases. Kevin Lynch and Rob Schilling have made the observation many times that, as the city’s consumption has steadily decrease, the rate has steadily increased. Judith Mueller, head of the city’s public works, explains as a necessity to cover their fixed costs. Also, the city pipes are supposed to be losing water through seepage and, although the city bought some kind of scope to peer into the intestines of our pipes, the city has been unable to determine exactly where. So, rates have gone up for the future replacement of all of the city’s water and sewer lines. it’s the same situation as with our pools, rather than repair the source of linkage, build a new and grander pool facility.
    On a paralellel matter, Karl Ackerman I sincerely reverse my previous stand on the amount of money being spent attempting to get rid of the stink in your neighborhood. Since there are plans by RWSA to spend over $400M on various projects downl the road, $5M is a drop in the bucket and it will be good to see some city residents benefitting from the massive increases in our utility bills. Since 1997, my usage is down considerably but my bills are averaging around 2.5 times as much. Maybe one day, Woolen Mills will be able to smell the honeysuckle.

  6. It is money from the Boys and Girls club- not the YMCA, and its a reimbursement not an expenditure, its basically to receive the money and reallocate it within the Public Works division. The background materials are helpful when looking at the agenda (most times).

  7. Great post, Waldo. I’ve toured the COB green roof and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to see an extensive green roof in action. They’ve done some measurements on it and found that the water running off is cleaner, the roof is cooler in the summer, and warmer in the winter.

    Karl – I strongly agree. This sort of effort should be part of the city’s next comprehensive plan update and should then be expanded regionally. Unfortunately, the city definitely lacks the staff and financial resources to do a good job, even with assistance from U.Va. classes (Karen Firehock’s class wrote the first draft of the current environmental chapter) and the Charlottesville Community Design Center. We need more funding and staff for good planning to get good results. (Full Disclosure: I am looking for a planning job in Charlottesville)

    Cville Eye – Fascinating point. I came to a similar conclusion talking with Kevin Lynch. As far as I can tell, larger population in the county and beyond increases the cost of services for everyone because it requires expensive new infrastructure with low bang for the buck because of how spread out people are. Larger population in the city appears to use existing services more efficiently, making them better and less costly for everyone. I would love to see a detailed analysis on this. It suggests that regional population should be encouraged in the city and discouraged in the county, the whole smart growth idea.

  8. I meant to say that regional population :growth: should be encouraged in the city and discouraged in the county. And let me clarify that. I’m not talking about seven story condos in the middle of car dependent low density residential neighborhoods. That doesn’t make much sense and upsets people. I’m talking about appropriate urban scale growth in appropriate places with transit and places to walk.

  9. C-ville Eye, your “actually” is a bit misplaced, as nobody suggested that a population increase is to blame. Gas, simply put, costs a freaking bundle to produce and distribute. Why should it cost less per gallon than beer or soda? The prices of gas, water, and electricity should be through the roof. Americans should question their consumption. Americans should plan to drive less. Period.

  10. Lyle, FYI the City has a new position open for a person to help them meet their climate change and environmental goals…

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