Norfolk: The Next Level

United States Green Building Council

United States Green Building Council (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before the year 2030 the city of Norfolk, Virginia will undergo a huge makeover.  As a city planner I have plans to make Norfolk a cleaner, greener, city that is continuously making strides toward cutting back on its energy usage and provides alternate modes of transportation to it residents and visitors.  The ultimate goal of these initiatives is to make Norfolk a sustainable city that will be here for years to come by implementing methods such as transportation alternatives, more green buildings, and become more environmentally friendly with smart growth.

Norfolk has already begun to make significant strides when it comes to providing alternate modes of transportation. The “Tide” light rail is the biggest and most recent leap toward becoming a greener city that Norfolk has made. The Tide opened in the summer of 2011 and has been a big sensation ever since; it has a 7.7 mile track that runs through the downtown and has several stops. The stops include EVMS hospital, Norfolk State University, Monticello Station, and several others. This light rail is a great alternative for those individuals traveling into the city and wants a different way a traveling around without the use of a car. Judging by the success of the light rail with amount of people using it, it could possibly be reintroduced to opening the tracks up to other cities in the Hampton Roads area. Another up and coming idea for alternate transportation is building more walkways and bikeways for the section of the population who would like to get some extra exercise on their way to school or work.  People could even use a combination of the all three to transport themselves to another part of the city. Doing so has many positive outcomes including, cutting back on gas usage along with the amount of money spent on gas itself, reduced traffic on some of the main busy streets and the amount of fuel emissions let into the atmosphere.

Another aspect of Norfolk city’s journey to sustainability is beginning to implement green building. Green building is a building constructed in a way to minimize waste and includes recycled, renewable, and reused resources to the maximum extent possible.  These buildings typically use renewable sources of energy as opposed to the typical usage of electricity and the local electric company with the exception of electricity as a source of back up energy.   In 2011, students at Old Dominion University partnered up with Hampton University students to start construction on a zero-energy house (a house that generates more energy than it uses) that they would enter into a national competition called the “Solar Decathlon”. In this competition students at 20 different universities nationwide would design and help construct their idea for a zero-energy household for future communities.  I think that this is a great example of a feasible future for upcoming housing developments in the city of Norfolk and although it can be more expensive on the front end, in the long run green houses are going to help to renew our earth’s atmosphere.

The options for different modes of transportation and implementing green building are both elements in the overall idea of smart growth that Norfolk has begun to take steps in.  Smart growth is development accommodating the needs of the community without sacrificing the needs of the community.  Smart growth is a general term that includes most aspects of what it takes for a community to “go green”. In-fill development is one aspect of smart growth that attempts to add additional housing and/or business facilities inside an existing development.  This type of development would be best used in the older buildings in downtown Norfolk where business buildings and condo apartments both co-exist. The USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) is a national organization that aims to bring cost saving , energy-efficient  buildings to  communities in this generation. USGBC is the head corporation over the LEED program (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). LEED provides guidelines for contractors to try to reach while working on a project to be more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. LEED also gives awards as recognition to those whose design really took the extra time to pay close attention to the details and concepts it takes to build a building that is environmentally friendly.  Old Dominion University’s own Engineering and Computational Sciences Building was recognized by LEED last year for its environmentally friendly design.

Although, Norfolk has already begun to make gigantic leaps towards a “greener” future, there are still so many other areas that will always need continuous attention and effort by both city planners like me and members of Norfolk city’s community. These three areas I have mentioned, transportation alternatives, green building, and smart growth are a great beginning to Norfolk’s eco-friendly future.


Individual Problem Analysis and Research


1000 points of light - Students at Virginia Te...

Image via Wikipedia

This article talks about campus safety in its relation to the Virginia Tech shootings in April of  2007.  The author of this report explains in-depth about the “ripple effect” this horrific incident had on universities nationwide and what actions were taken to ensure the standards for safety on all campuses was of the highest quality. This report is easy to read and packed full of insightful information, it gives unbiased numbers and graphs showing the overall reaction to the shooting. It also breaks down the different groups of people on a college campus that are going to have to put in some effort to reinforce the efforts of campus police and security officers to secure the premises of the campus grounds, dorms, and buildings.

Abstract: This report is the result of a nationwide survey conducted in March 2008 of student life officers and campus safety directors to assess the impact of the April 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech on campus safety and security policy and practice. Discussion areas include: (1) Student Privacy vs. Need-to-Know; (2) Prevention, Mitigation and Recovery; (3) Notification Systems; (4) Security Monitoring and Enhancement; (5) Recognition and Response to Student Behavior; and (6) Budgetary Impacts. The survey asked respondents to comment on the nature of their relationship with municipal law enforcement, local and regional media, and state-level agencies both before and after the events at Virginia Tech. Without exception respondents indicated that the relationship of their institution with municipal law enforcement and with state-level agencies had remained about the same or improved since the events at Virginia Tech; a similar pattern of responses was seen in describing the relationship with local and regional media outlets.The tragedy at Virginia Tech also raised many questions and renewed debates about gun violence and weapons regulation. The events brought increased exposure to groups such as Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, which argue that the impact of such incidents could be prevented or minimized if students and faculty were allowed to carry guns on campus. In contrast, the Virginia Tech tragedy has emboldened groups and individuals who oppose extending concealed carry rights to college campuses.The focus of others has been on improving efforts to track and screen potential weapons buyers to prevent individuals with mental illness or a history of violent or threatening behavior from accessing guns. Additional resources are listed. (Contains 12 figures and 1 table.) [This initiative was supported by AIG Higher Education Risk Solutions and Lexington Insurance Company.]

This is a great read and is very insightful about things that can be done on every college campus to help prevent tragic events like the Virginia Tech shootings from occurring again.

My 1st Post

Glad to be writing my first blog 😉 hows it going