Monday, January 15, 2007

Keeping the Area Green: A New Chesterfield Building is an Example of a Regional Trend

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch
Publication date: January 8, 2007

By Joe Macenka, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Jan. 8--In its quest to be a good environmental steward, Chesterfield County has turned to such decidedly unsexy tools as waterless urinals, porous pavement and high-efficiency lighting.

Taken individually, some of the features of the county's new community development service center might not seem like show-stoppers. But it's the collective effect Chesterfield is focusing on in its bid to produce another success story for the movement of so-called green building.

"A lot of people are looking for the home run," said Jay Stegmaier, deputy county administrator for management services. "And you do get a home run sometimes. But a lot of times, in a big organization, if you focus on the base hits, over time they can add up to home runs."

The three-story, 90,000- square-foot service center at the government complex off Iron Bridge Road is one of the latest examples of how green building -- construction designed to be environmentally friendly -- is gaining momentum among governments in the Richmond area.

In November, about 300 Chesterfield employees moved into the new building, whose interior features a number of energy-saving applications. Outside, the pavement used in the parking lots and various landscaping elements are designed to filter stormwater runoff to reduce pollution.

"We, in essence, used this new building as a test case," Steg- maier said, "and we're evaluating the results on that. The plan is to incorporate the things that worked for us in future buildings."

Chesterfield's stewardship efforts don't end there. The county is considering adding hybrids to its vehicle fleet and using biodiesel fuels.

County employees also addressed the heavy volume of cans of aerosol paint used to line the ballfields throughout Chesterfield. Employees designed a battery-powered paint sprayer that uses a water-based latex paint, resulting in a product that not only costs less but reduces emissions and hazardous aerosol-can wastes.

Environmental initiatives are not unique to Chesterfield.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is developing a scorecard for other state agencies to use to earn recognition for environmental awareness. Green building would be a part of the campaign.

The Virginia Housing Development Authority has a low-income housing tax-credit program where applicants get points for meeting certain green-building standards.

Henrico County has long made it a practice in its construction-approval process to focus on green spaces, landscaping and tree preservation.

And Hanover County last fall opened Kersey Creek Elementary School, which in addition to employing a number of green-building elements also uses environmentally friendly cleaning products.

The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority incorporates green-building methods in its new construction projects, and the Richmond City Council passed a resolution in November to establish a green-building advisory commission.

Councilman Chris A. Hilbert, 3rd District, said he wants the city to do more.

"The main thing the government can do, in my opinion, is lead by example," he said.

Hilbert wants the city to establish policies for green building and better environmental stewardship, and to look at creating incentive programs for the private sector.

"Green building is not just for tree huggers anymore," he said. "It really is an issue that, in my opinion, relates to national security. We really need to not depend so much on regions of the world that are unstable in terms of their resources. And part of the equation is green building."

Contact staff writer Joe Macenka at or (804) 649-6804.


Copyright (c) 2007, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.

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