Sustainability

A prosperous and sustainable economy is synonymous with a healthy community.

This region of the East Coast was once the gateway for international exploration and expansion and now has significant potential for the development of offshore wind resources off its coast.


Offshore Wind

Currently, there are two Commercial Offshore Wind Energy projects that will begin harnessing 5.1 GW offshore wind power off the Virginia Beach coast in the near future. These projects are an important first step toward offshore wind development for Virginia and the United States. Learn more about these projects and the offshore wind impact on our region here.

Electro-M​echanical Energy Storage

Global Technical Systems​ (GTS), a premier provider of advanced engineering solutions for defense, homeland security, and related U.S. Government and international customers, has opened a 560,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing center to produce and distribute 100% green energy storage systems using advanced composites and engineering technologies. It will create 1,100 new jobs with an average annual salary of $74,000.

    Onshore wind​​

    Onshore wind opportunities are already gaining momentum in Virginia Beach. In 2009, the City adopted Wind Energy Conversion amendments into the zoning ordinance. These amendments are designed to promote the use of renewable energy sources by allowing wind energy conversion systems (wind turbines) in appropriate locations while minimizing visual, safety, and environmental impacts and promoting the safe, effective and efficient use of such systems. ​

    Solar

    Dominion Energy has a variety of renewable projects​ in the works, including green and emerging energy technology research. The company has announced plans to develop multiple utility-scale solar projects in Virginia totaling 400 megawatts of electricity through 2020. Dominion Energy, the Department of the Navy and the Commonwealth of Virginia constructed a 21-megawatt direct current (18- megawatt alternating current) solar energy facility at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach that consists of 179,000 solar panels on 100 acres.​

    The Brock Environmental Center
    The Brock Environmental Center

    The City of Virginia Beach recognizes the critical importance of environmental sustainability to its long term success, and is committed to fostering the principles of environmental, economic, and social stewardship through the incorporation of sustainable practices, policies, and directives:

    Green Building Criteria for New City Buildings

    In 2008, the City Council formally adopted a Green Building Criteria for New City Buildings. This Administrative Directive requires each new or renovated city/school building is designed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. To date, there are 35 LEED-certified buildings throughout the city, including the 225,000-square-foot Clark Nexsen office tower in Town Center and the 500,000 sf Virginia Beach Convention Center.

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    ENERGY STAR-Certified Buildings

    The region has 25 ENERGY STAR-certified buildings seven of which are located in Virginia Beach.

    LEED Buildings

    To date, the City has 35 LEED buildings, including the 225,000 square foot Clark Nexsen office tower in Town Center.

    • The Brock Environmental Center​ is recognized as one of the most environmentally sustainable buildings in the world, achieving zero net CO2 emissions and zero waste leaving the site.​
    • The beautiful 500,000 sq. ft. Virginia Beach Convention Center was designed to reflect our coastal environment and is also the first convention center in the country to earn LEED® Gold Certification for Existing Buildings. This internationally recognized green building certification reflects the City’s commitment to energy conservation, protection of our abundant natural resources, and providing healthy and safe buildings for our residents and visitors to enjoy. The Convention Center maintains its LEED certification with the new LEED Arc platform and continues to be a leader in environmental sustainability for the hospitality, tourism, and meetings industry.
    • The City's new 65,000 square foot Housing Resource Center is LEED Silver.
    • Most of the City's public recreation centers are either LEED-certified or registered.
    • Several of the City's largest manufacturing facilities are LEED certified.​

    The school buildings that have earned a LEED rating include:

    PLATINUM
    GOLD
    SILVER
    CERTIFIED
    REGISTERED
    Pupil Transportation FacilityVirginia Beach Renaissance AcademyWindsor Oaks ElementaryHermitage Elementary School​Thoroughgood Elementary School
    College Park Elementary SchoolGreat Neck Middle SchoolVirginia Beach Middle SchoolPrincess Anne Middle School​ (opening 2021)
    Kellam High School
    Old Donation (pending)

    Source: Virginia Beach City Public Schools 2020 data


    VBCPS is the only school division statewide named a 2019 Virginia Environmental Excellence Program Sustainability Partner. This distinction is presented by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to private or public organizations that make sustainability part of their culture through leadership, innovation and continual improvement.


    Our community is committed to sustainability and environmental protection. Here are some examples from Virginia Beach nonprofits and business organizations.

    The Brock Environmental Ce​nter in Virginia Beach is one of the most energy-efficient, environmentally smart buildings in the world. It is also the first commercial building in the U.S. permitted to capture and treat rainfall for use as drinking water, and it has achieved one of the toughest building standards in the world—Living Building Challenge certification. With its solar panels and residential wind turbines producing nearly twice as much energy as the building has used, the Center has far surpassed expectations since its completion in late 2014. The building uses 90 percent less water than a typical office building of its size. And as a result of conservation efforts and innovative technologies, the building uses 80 percent less energy than a typical building that size. Click here for an online virtual tour: http://bec.dronevideosnow.com/

    STIHL Inc. - In 2009, STIHL Inc. installed a 60,000-square-foot green roof on its new manufacturing facility. At that time, this green roof was the largest privately-owned green roof in Virginia. They also installed six wind turbines on the roof of their plants and were able to reduce their energy consumption. This past year they started a "Zero Waste" project with the goal of completely eliminating all of their solid waste going to landfills. They are addressing one recycling approach at a time, continuously improving their programs.

    ​IMS: Gear, one of the leading manufacturers of automotive gear assemblies in the world, is using onsite water cisterns for cooling.

    Water Conservation

    The City of Virginia Beach Public Utilities department​ provides a number of services to help the community use water wisely, including free water conservation presentations, a generous toilet rebate program and tips to make conserving water a daily part of your life both around your home and yard​​.​

    Parks, Natural Areas, Recreation, and Trails

    Virginia Beach is home to 293 parks and park facilities, encompassing over 7,000 acres, including neighborhood and community parks, metro parks, signature parks, natural areas, waterway accesses, trail linkages, open space preservation areas and park athletic facilities. Each park is unique and offers something for everyone, from wide-open spaces to playgrounds, picnic shelters, and ball fields.

    The bikeway and trail system ​serves equally important functions as part of the transportation network and the recreational system network. New shared-use paths are being built with new roadways and roadway improvements throughout the City. The city currently has over 100 miles of trails.

    Recycling Programs

    The City of Virginia Beach has a robust recycling program​ with many opportunities to reduce, reuse, and recycle. The Recycling Program received a 2015 Outstanding Municipal Program Award by the Virginia Recycling Association and a Communications Achievement Award for Excellence in Local Government by the Virginia Municipal League.

    ​Educat​ional Resources

    ​Learn more about the seminars and educational resources provided by external subject experts and organizations such as Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Lynnhaven River NOW, and Elizabeth River Project​.

    Additional Resources​

    Green Building Criteria for New City Buildings

    In 2008, the City Council formally adopted a Green Building Criteria for New City Buildings. This Administrative Directive requires each new or renovated city/school building is designed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. To date, there are 35 LEED-certified buildings throughout the city, including the 225,000-square-foot Clark Nexsen office tower in Town Center and the 500,000 sf Virginia Beach Convention Center.

    Sustainable Procurement Directive​​

    The purpose of this policy is to address procurement elements of the City's Sustainability Plan. This Sustainable ​Procurement Directive provides a framework for the procurement of goods and services for minimizing negative impacts on human health and the environment while being mindful of fiscal responsibilities.

    Energy Management for Municipal Operations Directive

    The City's Energy Management Program was established to analyze the energy consumption of city buildings, utility systems, motor vehicles, and improve their energy performance. The program is administered by the City's Energy Office, which monitors city energy usage, and identifies new ways for the city to save money on energy bills as well as become more energy efficient.

    Energy-Efficient Buildings Tax Credit

    In 2010, the Virginia Beach City Council adopted the Energy-Efficient Buildings Real Estate Tax Incentive Program to encourage sustainable commercial and residential development. The program reduces the real estate tax by $0.15 per $100 for buildings certified as energy-efficient by a qualified licensed engineer or contractor.

    Virginia Beach City Public Schools Sustainability Practices

    Virginia Beach City Public Schools understands the importance of conserving resources and protecting the environment. The Division has established a Sustainable Schools program with three sustainable goals:

    • Develop a sustainable building infrastructure that requires LEED silver rating for any new or renovated building;
    • Integrate sustainable practices throughout the division to include no-idle policies for buses and purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles;
    • Educate the public about the importance of sustainability beginning in elementary school.

    Sea Level Rise Resilience Strategy​​

    What is the City of Virginia Beach doing?

    • In 2014, City Council launched the Comprehensive Sea Level Rise and Recurrent Flooding Capital Improvement Program project, which is now known as Sea Level Wise. ​​
    • Beginning in the 2015 budget, City Council provided $3 million in funding for this critical initiative to specifically identify the potential impacts of SLR and develop a comprehensive long-term response plan.
    • Also, the City received an $844,000 grant - the Regional Coastal Resiliency Grant - awarded by NOAA's Office for Coastal Management, to further the City's efforts, bringing the total to $3.8 million.
    • The City has hired Dewberry, a national consulting firm with significant experience in developing strategies for coastal resiliency, to help with planning for reducing our risk.
    • We are identifying short- and long-term measures that will reduce flooding risks for each watershed. These will include combinations of policy measures, flood control structures, and structural engineering and nature-based solutions.
    • The City is updating its stormwater master plan concurrently, creating an opportunity to determine how the increased coastal flood elevations will be reflected through the stormwater system and which causes additional interior flooding.

    Read more about the story of the sea-level rise in Virginia Beach.

    What is Earth Hour?

    ​Earth Hour is a unique opportunity for you to become more sustainable and do something positive for the environment:

    • ​It’s been the source of inspiration for millions of people taking steps toward a cleaner, safer future.
    • It’s not just about saving energy for one hour; it’s about going beyond the hour with lasting, behavior-changing actions for a sustainable planet.​

    On Saturday, March 27, 2021, at 8:30 p.m. the City of Virginia Beach will participate for a fifth​ time in this global initiative by turning off all non-essential lights for one hour. Through this symbolic action, the City strives to encourage residents and businesses to turn off their lights, and to find ways in which they can become more sustainable. For participation and more details, visit this page​. ​