Cities See Success, Save Green with Energy Initiatives

By: Janelle Lilley Email
By: Janelle Lilley Email

Going green is a phrase heard quite often nowadays, but according to Director of Public Works Tom Sliwoski, it's not so new to Staunton.

"We've been working on environmental initiatives now for several years," says Sliwoski.

Some recent statistics show the city's hard work has paid off. New procedures at Staunton's water treatment plant cut energy usage in half in just two years.

Recycling is also an important initiative. In fact, it's how public works heats its building.

"In our shop, all the oil that we take out of our vehicles when we change the oil is burned and used to be reheated to heat our shops in the winter time," explains Sliwoski.

The city has also improved all of its traffic lights. By using LEDs instead of incandescent lights, the Staunton has achieved an 80-percent drop in traffic light energy usage.

Harrisonburg has also had success with LED lights in traffic signals.

"Obviously, it's important to the city of Harrisonburg, not only for environmental reasons but also for financial and social reasons," says Harrisonburg public information officer Miriam Dickler.

Harrisonburg has also shared some green efforts with its residents

"We've held three workshops for people to build their own rain barrels. So, they can come in, work with city staff and build their own rain barrels, take them home and install them," explains Dickler.

Sliwoski says a city government's energy use is minimal compared to all the residents. So, in order to really make Staunton green, Public Works' next project is charting the energy use of residents and businesses.

"Every individual, every organization and we'll try to look at ways to educate the public to reduce energy consumption," says Sliwoski.

A student from Mary Baldwin College has volunteered to help Staunton with charting residents' energy use. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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