ANNUAL MANUAL: Is Charlottesville getting greener or destroying the planet?

Six ways Charlottesville is getting greener

-Jerry Stenger replaces Patrick Michaels at UVA, admits global warming is real- For 30 years UVA's climatology office was run by a man who didn't believe global warming exists. Last year, Michaels resigned his post and went into private consulting, leaving his longtime second-in-command, Jerry Stenger, in charge who says, "There's little doubt that the available data shows that global average temperatures have increased rather sharply over the last 30 years."

-Water conservation efforts actually worked!- Last fall, things looked grim for Charlottesville's water supply. September 2007 was the fourth-driest September on record in Charlottesville, when only 0.69 inches of rain fell, well off the average of 4.2 inches. After a massive city and county sponsored PR campaign urging citizens to install low-flow toilets, fix leaks, and recycle shower water. The result? A 10 percent reduction in water usage.

-Charlottesville Pavilion puts the spotlight on green- That means no styrofoam or non-local produce in backstage catering for rock stars, more expensive but more readily recyclable plastic beer cups for patrons, and a crew sorting through every last piece of trash after every show to pull out recyclables.

-Hot shots roll in eco-friendly style- Go Green Transportation features tricked out hybrid luxury vehicles. With the fleet including several plush, leather-seated, climate-controlled, low-emission cars, they're hoping to grow the business by tapping into the rich market of wealthy, earth-conscious consumers in Charlottesville.

-Old electronics spark new ideas- Charlottesville-based electronics retailing giant Crutchfield lets people deposit their old gadgetry for possible re-use or recycling. Got old wires lying around Nelson County recording studio Monkeyclaus wants them so they can record artists to get that real retro sound.

-Public transit usage is up!- It's increased by 11.5 percent since last year in Charlottesville, to be precise. The biggest jump has happened on the free UVA-to-Downtown trolley and along the Downtown-to-Fashion Square Mall bus route.

Six ways Charlottesville is destroying the planet

-Regretful commuters from Charlottesville- With a glut of bachelor's and master's degree holding job candidates here in our town, many an educated Charlottesvillian has made the choice to bear the burden of $4 gas and make the hour-long commute to Richmond.

-Regretful commuters to Charlottesville- With housing prices on the rise in Charlottesville and Albemarle, some are choosing to commute from such outlying towns as Waynesboro, Barboursville, Lovingston, and Staunton. 

-One car for every 1.03 people- That's a ratio higher than the national average, that's a lot of carbon going into the atmosphere, and that's about 3,000 acres of paving paradise and putting up a parking lot. Still vertical parking decks are more the fashion now, with 11 having gone up in the last 36 years.

-Mega-reservoir could mean mega-damage to the environment- Every day, a little more sediment seeps into the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. Dredging it will cost millions, mostly for trucking away the dirt. So the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority plans to let the Rivanna Reservoir silt over for the next few decades while expanding the Ragged Mountain Reservoir, in favor of clear-cutting 135 acres in order to create a new, mega-reservoir under Interstate 64. One overturned truck containing contaminants, and the drinking water supply is tainted for all of Charlotesville and Albemarle.

-Localvore movement doesn't necessarily mean greener living- A recent UVA study calculates that considering what it takes to transport the food from the farm to downtown, the local City Market burns as much energy as 18 homes. Suddenly, that lone 18-wheeler driving its giant load from the American Midwest or California doesn't seem so bad. 

-Meadowcreek Parkway means paving over green space- After decades of debates, resolutions, petitions, and public meetings, contractors last month relocated several utility poles in anticipation of the Meadowcreek Parkway– the first physical work on the project since it was proposed. If the new bypass becomes a reality, it will run directly through McIntire Park, one of the largest remaining green spaces in the Charlottesville city limits.