Accomplishments & Initiatives

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Virginia leader in Solarize initiatives

In 2014, Blacksburg became the first community in Virginia to launch a Solarize initiative, a community-based program to make solar more affordable and less complex for the average homeowner. As a result, Blacksburg quadrupled the amount of residential solar within a year, and has seen continued growth ever since. Dozens of other Virginia communities followed Blacksburg’s lead and launched programs of their own. Blacksburg was awarded the 2015 U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Award. The award came with a $15,000 cash prize which the town donated to the Susan Garrison Memorial Fund. Susan Garrison was the town’s Sustainability Manager until her death in 2013. The fund was created by her family to help promote community sustainability and beautification programs and projects.

Virginia leader in STAR Communities (Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating Communities)

  • In 2013, Blacksburg became the first Virginia community to join the STAR Communities program, a benchmarking resource designed objectively assess and rate community-wide sustainability across a broad range of measures.

Virginia leader in State Electronics Challenge

  • In late 2013, Blacksburg joined the State Electronics Challenge, a nationwide effort to reduce the lifecycle environmental impact of office electronics, and completed a baseline assessment of municipal electronics in January 2014.

Ongoing Recognition through Virginia Municipal League's (VML) Green Government Challenge

  • Since 2008, the Town of Blacksburg has participated in VML's Green Government Challenge, winning numerous recognitions along the way.
  • Since 2008, Blacksburg has been awarded a Gold rating in the annual Green Government Challenge each year for its sustainability efforts.

Participation and Recognition with the DEQ Virginia Environmental Excellence Program (VEEP)

  • The Virginia Environmental Excellence Program (VEEP) was established in 2000 by the Virginia DEQ to encourage facilities and organizations within the Commonwealth that have strong environmental records to go above and beyond the minimum legal requirements for environmental protection.
  • In 2002, the town attained Environmental Enterprise (E2) status in the VEEP program.
  • In 2006, the town was awarded Exemplary Environmental Enterprise (E3) status.

Leader in the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities (NPEP)

  • Blacksburg was the first municipality in the nation to participate in the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities, US EPA-sponsored Program focused on eliminating or substantially reducing the use of 31 Priority Chemicals - those believed to be particularly hazardous to human health and the environmental.
  • As a result of this program, the town took steps to eliminate lead from wheel balancing weights in the entire fleet of municipal vehicles.

Awarded an EPA Resource Conservation Challenge (RCC) Grant

  • The town was awarded a $95,000 Resource Conservation Challenge Grant to divert heavy metals from the waste stream for proper recycling and reclamation.
  • This grant enabled the town to significantly reduce the amount of lead, cadmium, and mercury sent to the landfill through electronics, CFL, and battery recycling initiatives supported by the town.  

Recycling Program

  • Curbside recycling service has been provided to town residents for over 15 years.
  • Through a partnership with Sustainable Blacksburg and many local merchants, collection sites are located conveniently throughout the town for residents to properly dispose of old batteries, cell phones and compact fluorescent bulbs free of charge. A current list of drop-off sites can be found here.
  • Blacksburg has partnered with the YMCA Thrift Store to act as an e-waste collection point as part of the US EPA Resource Conservation Challenge grant. The Thrift Store is also a collection site for batteries.
  • The Town of Blacksburg offers multiple ways for employees to maximize recycling at work: bins for mixed paper, comingled containers, old electronics, and batteries are located conveniently throughout all municipal buildings.  In addition, the Public Works Department offers recycling of Styrofoam cups to its employees.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection

  • The town has partnered with the Montgomery Regional Solid Waste Authority to offer household hazardous waste collection days for residents for over 10 years.
  • Through its Environmental Management Program, storage, handling, and disposal of all universal or hazardous wastes produced by town operations is carefully managed.  

Tree Programs

  • Blacksburg has been a Tree City USA recipient for over 10 years. Established by the Arbor Day Foundation, Tree Cities establish a tree board or committee, create a tree care ordinance, establish a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita, and participate in an annual Arbor Day event.
  • As a part of its Tree City USA efforts, the town established a municipal tree nursery in 2007 to provide a 2:1 replacement for trees requiring removal on town property.

Green Fleet and Other Transportation Initiatives

  • In May 2007, a conversion program was implemented to transition the town's diesel vehicles over to a biodiesel blend; since then the entire Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments' fleet of diesel fueled vehicles and equipment has been converted.
  • In 2008, by Administrative Directive the town adopted Green Fleet, Green Commuting, and Alternative Work Schedule Policies to promote the purchase of fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles and encourage employee driving habits that reduce vehicle miles traveled.
  • Blacksburg Transit now has nine hybrid-electric buses and has added diesel oxidation catalysts to the remainder of its fleet, substantially removing soot and fine particulates from bus exhaust.

Energy Performance Contract

  • The contract, to reduce municipal energy consumption, was implemented in 2003 with Johnson Controls, Inc. resulting in $850,000 in energy efficient equipment upgrades throughout town buildings.

Climate Protection

  • In 2006, Town Council voted join the Cool Cities Initiatives and the town became an early signatory to The Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement.
  • In 2007, the town was accepted into ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability Program.  In that same year, the town received recognition from the Sierra Club's Cool Cities Program
  • Also in 2007, the Mayor’s Task Force on Climate Protection and Sustainability was formed to develop a Community Climate Action Plan. To kick off that effort, the town partnered with Virginia Tech Department of Urban Affairs and Planning to perform a community-wide inventory of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Work is ongoing to complete the town's Climate Action Plan and expected to conclude in late 2014 or early 2015.
  • In 2015, Blacksburg joined the Compact of Mayors – a commitment of mayors from across the country and the globe to expand on their previous commitments to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System

  • In 2008, through an Administrative Directive the town established a policy to adopt the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Rating system as a requirement for new construction and major renovations of town-owned facilities.
  • The Director of Public Works is a LEED Accredited Professional.
  • In 2010, The Blacksburg Motor Company attained a LEED Platinum rating for the redevelopment of a former brownfield site and historic building for municipal use.  The Blacksburg Motor Company building now houses the town's Planning and Building, and Engineering and GIS departments.

Community Engagement on Environmental & Sustainability Issues

  • The First Annual Environmental Awareness Week celebration was held in August 2006.
  • The following year, Blacksburg hosted the first annual Sustainability Week in partnership with Virginia Tech and Sustainable Blacksburg.
  • The town helped form Sustainable Blacksburg, an independent community partnership and winner of the Virginia Sustainable Building Network’s “2007 Most Sustainable Community Program” award.
  • In 2013, Virginia Tech was recognized with a Best of Green Schools award from the U.S. Green Building Council for its ongoing partnership with the Town of Blacksburg and Sustainable Blacksburg