Environmental Initiatives

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In each section, the first half of the list includes programs and projects designed to help our environment by City of Harrisonburg (municipal operations), and the second half of the list includes programs and projects by our community. 

 


 

Recycling and Waste Management

Harrisonburg is leading the efforts with an "all in one" system for waste and recycling collection. This program does not apply to apartment complexes and businesses with private trash haulers not affiliated with the City's refuse collection service. The City also provides household hazardous waste collection site for residents. Find out more: 

Municipal Operations:

 Community Programs/Projects:

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Transportation and Land Use

The City of Harrisonburg's Comprehensive Plan designates areas as mixed use to promote traditional neighborhood development allowing the mix of residential, retail, and office and employment uses, as well as, having a circulation system that uses many modes of transportation. The City has a safe, reliable public transit (bus) system. Biking and walking are two other alternatives to driving a motorized vehicle. Not only do these alternatives help the environment but, they also help you stay active and save money. 

Municipal Operations:

Community Programs/Projects:

  • Valley Conservation Council - a land trust that works with citizens, private organizations, and state and federal agencies to conserve rural heritage, protect our waters, and save resources for the future of Virginia. 
  • Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition - bicycling advocacy organization, organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, including but not limited to building and maintaining trails and related public works suitable for mountain biking, promoting and encouraging recreational road bicycling and safety, etc. 
  • Everyday Bikes! Community Bicycle Project by New Community Project. 
  • Northend Greenway Project by New Community Project - Harrisonburg's Northend Greenway will be an attractive and safe bicycle and pedestrian path connecting neighborhoods with the downtown district via public green space, easily accessible to all residents, including children and families.

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Energy and Air Quality

The City of Harrisonburg has been working to use less energy. Some of our actions include: made energy retrofits at the Community Activities Center, all of our traffic lights are LED (light-emitting diode), we discourage idling vehicles, we encourage turning off lights when not used, and the Harrisonburg Electric Commission uses energy efficient lighting whenever possible. Saving energy saves natural resources and saves us money. 

Municipal Operations:

  • Tree City USA Member since 2004.
  • Traffic signal light bulbs are LED; uses less energy.
  • Street Lights being switched to energy efficient High Pressure Sodium (88% of street lights are HPS).
  • Street lights operate by dusk to dawn sensors, only on when needed.
  • City's Public Works and Public Transit departments utilize waste oil for heating.
  • Police officers on bicycles.
  • Community Activities Center energy efficiency retrofits.
  • Electrical Optimization Strategy for water pumps. 
  • Harrisonburg Electric Commission (HEC) - provides Harrisonburg citizens and businesses with power needs. HEC also offers energy share and energy audit programs.
  • Heritage Oaks Golf Course's over 200 acres of green space, managed turf grass, native vegetation areas, and thousands of trees serve vital air quality functions in an urban environment by taking in vast amounts of Carbon Dioxide and pollutants and expelling pure oxygen and water vapor into the atmosphere.

Community Programs/Projects:

  • Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF)- protects Virginia's 15.8 million acres of forest and manages 22 State Forest Lands.
  • Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ)- protects and improves the environment for the well-being of all Virginians. Oversees environmental permits, inspections and enforcement, and environmental monitoring and response.
  • Shenandoah Valley Builders Association (SVBA) - a community of home building professionals and suppliers. Has a variety of committees including Arbor Day, Education, Green Expo, etc.
  • Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority (HRHA) and EarthCraft House Virginia - HRHA is a political subdivision of Virginia created to promote adequate and affordable housing opportunities. HRHA partnered with EarthCraft House to create affordable, green housing. 
  • Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV).
  • Valley 25 x 25 - a shared community resource devoting to helping the Shenandoah Valley achieve 25 percent renewable energy before 2025.
  • Green Impact Campaign - an outreach program that is working to educate, engage and empower communities to reduce the collective environmental impact of local businesses on the planet through community awareness and free sustainability services.

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Streams, Water Quality, Water Conservation

The health of Blacks Run, our local stream, is in poor health. Storm water run off consisting of unhealthy levels of fecal coliform, sediment, nitrates and phosphates have led to a decrease in the ability for organisms to live in the stream. Progress has been made by our community to make the stream healthier. Notable actions the City of Harrisonburg has performed include our Annual Black's Run/Downtown Clean Up Day, many stream bank restoration projects, construction of rain gardens, and the Purcell Park Restoration Project. 

Municipal Operations:

  • www.cleanstream.org - A collaborative effort between the City of Harrisonburg and its community to educate the public about the sources of water pollution, impacts of pollution, and what citizens can do to help. Local events and workshops information is also posted in this website.
  • Annual Blacks Run Clean Up Day - Annual event every second Saturday in April that is open to all.
  • Doodie-Free Harrisonburg - Campaign by the City of Harrisonburg to encourage residents to pick up pet waste and help reduce bacteria from entering our waterways. 
  • City Stormwater Management Program (includes City MS4 Permit Program and Construction Site Stormwater Permits) - City wide effort to provide water quality protection for our streams and rivers.
  • Thomas Harrison and Skyline Middle Schools' Plant-A-Seed/ Watershed Experience for 6th and 7th graders.
  • City Water Conservation - Due to the increasing demands of the City's water resources, the Department of Public Utilities is providing information on water source levels and water usage in an effort to educate and stress the importance of becoming more water efficient.
  • Heritage Oaks Golf Course's streams,  ponds, and irrigation systems are an integral part of the City’s water treatment system.  The golf course utilizes an approved State Nutrient Management Plan and Certified Fertilizer Applicators who ensure proper application of nutrients and protection of waterways.  Water from runoff streams and untreated water from municipal water system is used for irrigation and through natural process converted to pure water vapor and oxygen by the golf courses 40 acres of managed turf grass areas.

Community Programs/Projects:

 

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Local Foods and Land Management

Eating local is a great way to be "green". Instead of buying vegetables and fruits from across the country or from another part of the world (which creates a lot of pollution from transport), we have the opportunity to purchase many of these same items from our local farmers. This stimulates and helps build our local economy.   

Municipal Operations:

  • Harrisonburg Community Garden - A program by Harrisonburg's Parks & Recreation Department for citizens to rent a 20-ft. x 20-ft. garden plot to plant fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, etc. 
  • "Local Foods" Days hosted at Harrisonburg City Public Schools. 
  • Heritage Oaks Golf Course is a valuable quality of life venue that provides recreational and fitness activities for people of all ages.  The site consists of over 200 acres of green space, the vast majority of which provides wildlife habit for deer, rabbits, squirrels, and other mammals and amphibians, as well an extensive bird population that includes water fowl, hawks, cardinals, blue birds, falcons and swallows. Five acres of the site consist of wetlands and a completely native, three acre environmentally sensitive area closed to human activity of any kind.

Community Programs/Projects:

  • Harrisonburg Downtown Farmer's Market - This Producer Only Market operates year-round at the Turner Pavilion in Downtown Harrisonburg. Source for locally grown and produced foods and crafts. 
  • Shenandoah Valley Buy Fresh, Buy Local - A local chapter of a nationally recognized consumer education and outreach effort of the Food Routes Network. Its goal is to give greater visibility to local farming operations and make it possible for residents and businesses in the Shenandoah Valley to buy more locally grown food. 
  • Friendly City Food Co-Op - a member-owned grocery store in Downtown Harrisonburg that supports local sustainable products.
  • Blue Ridge Permaculture Network - A group of permaculture practitioners and educators living and working in the Central Virginia Bioregion. The group offers classes in permaculture and ecological design. 
  • JMU's Farmers Market Days.
  • New Community Project - A local non-profit that is committed to the creation of sustainable systems. Programs center around food, green building, and transportation. 
  • Valley Conservation Council - a land trust that works with citizens, private organizations, and state and federal agencies to conserve rural heritage, protect our waters, and save resources for the future of Virginia. 
  • Rockingham County Virginia Cooperative Extension Services (VCE) - Through education programs based on research and developed with input from local stakeholders, the VCE helps the people of Rockingham County through programs in Agriculture and Natural Resources, Family and Consumer Sciences, 4-H Youth Development, and Community Viability. 
  • Central Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners.
  • Virginia Master Naturalists - Headwaters Chapter
  • Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF)- protects Virginia's 15.8 million acres of forest and manages 22 State Forest Lands.

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Other Community Initiatives and Organizations

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Want to list your group here? Have comments or questions?

Contact Thanh.Dang@harrisonburgva.gov or call at 540-434-5928

 

*The City of Harrisonburg provides these resources as a public service. Listing on this website does not mean that the City of Harrisonburg endorses any of the organizations or agencies or documentation referenced here. Mention of these organizations and agencies is for informational purposes only.