Sustainability & Initiatives
The City of Huntsville is committed to environmental excellence and recognizes the importance of protecting our local and global environment and natural resources. The City will continue to investigate trends in recycling, conservation and other issues to ensure a clean, sustainable and environmentally friendly community for all.
AIR & WATER
Natural Resources focuses on the following initiatives:
- Manages the local Air Pollution Control Program
- Issues air permits to industrial facilities as delegated by EPA
- Inspects facilities annually and reviews air emissions
- Operates ambient air monitoring samplers throughout the City
- Reviews and submits air monitoring sample data to EPA
- Oversees the City’s stormwater permit, which includes inspecting facilities, reviewing best management material storage and handling practices for City, commercial and industrial facilities
- Provides educational materials to reduce air pollution
- Produces air quality and greenhouse gas reports on a regular basis
- Ensures Huntsville remains a current attainment area for all criteria air pollutants, including ozone and particulate matter
AIR POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD
The City’s Air Pollution Control Board includes professionals from Redstone Arsenal, Alabama A&M University and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The board:
- Meets regularly to review departmental activities
- Investigates and resolves complaints regarding air pollution control, including open burning, dust, industrial facility complaints and illicit stormwater discharge
- Recognizes air emission reductions from local industry at the annual Air Pollution Control Achievement Awards
ENERGY & BUILDINGS
The City defines goals and actions in clean energy, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction in its updated Energy and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan. It also:
- Focuses on buildings and efficiency, transportation and land use planning, emissions, energy, and renewable power
- Evaluates all City facilities to move toward energy efficient best practices with direction from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional certified General Services director
General Services covers multiple divisions in different locations across the City. The department:
- Evaluates facilities and conducts LED retrofits of various City infrastructure with paybacks of 3-5 years
- Maintains LED lighting in all parking lots and buildings
- Works toward installing occupancy sensors and implementing lighting controls in City facilities
- Partnered with Parks & Recreation to install lighting controls on sports fields at several City parks
- Implemented programmable building control systems on most City facilities that can change set points on heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems when buildings are not occupied on nights and weekends
- Saved 200,000 tires from the landfill by using recycled rubber from automotive tires on pave walks at John Hunt Park
- Installed new automatic vehicle location (AVL) software that tracks City vehicle routes, checks mileage and monitors vehicle idle time
- Utilizes UtilityTRX energy information software to manage the City’s utility usage. The software compares current usage to previous history and identifies excess usage caused by leaks or incorrect equipment settings.
The Community Development Department receives block grant funds to repair existing homes, as well as federal HOME funds to create housing for low-to-moderate income households. Repairs bring existing homes up to minimum standard housing requirements, while new homes are designed and built so all systems and features work together to deliver higher energy efficiency.
Standards are consistent with Energy Star features. Homes also receive a Home Energy Rating certificate to ensure compliance with the International Energy Conservation Code of 2015.
The Zoning Department enacted the Slope Development District, which restricts and preserves mountainside development and emphasizes tree preservation, large lots with minimal clearing, and protecting environmentally sensitive areas.
The ordinance requires developers to minimize the degradation of the district’s special ecological character by adapting development to the natural terrain. The full list of regulations is available in Article 65 of the Zoning Ordinance.
Launched in December 1988, Huntsville Utilities’ Project Share helps elderly and disabled customers pay their utility bills during the winter months. The program also includes eScore, which provides home upgrades to help low-income families lower their energy costs.
With eScore, a trained, certified contractor identifies necessary upgrades and provides a score of 10 on the eScore scale. The homeowner then chooses which upgrades they want and can even arrange for financing through Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance. Once the work is complete, a member of the Huntsville Utilities Energy Services team will inspect the work to ensure it meets efficiency guidelines.
Visit the Huntsville Utilities website to get started today.
VALLEY SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES PROGRAM
This program, initiated by TVA Economic Development, offers assistance in developing and implementing sustainability initiatives that make communities more competitive and support TVA’s environmental policy. The City of Huntsville has excelled in this commitment, earning a platinum status from TVA.
LONG RANGE AND URBAN PLANNING
Good urban planning is inherently about sustainability. Sustainable neighborhoods offer access to:
- Multiple modes of transportation
- Housing that suits different generations and household types
- Safe walking and biking for citizens of all ages
- Amenities like schools, parks and shopping
Through smart planning and strategic policy changes, Long-Range & Urban Planning is helping to grow a community where more people have access to quality housing, desirable shopping, comfortable parks, greenways and neighborhood schools. Visit BigPictureHuntsville.com to learn more.
RECYCLING & WASTE
Green Team strives to inform and motivate the community to keep Huntsville beautiful and take steps to decrease our impact on the environment. The Keep America Beautiful affiliate:
- Develops and implements waste reduction and recycling awareness programs
- Partners with the Huntsville Police Department on anti-litter programs and enforcement
- Works with the City’s Tree Commission and Beautification Board to plant and sustain trees across Huntsville
The City of Huntsville’s greenhouse provides plants for City properties, rights-of-way, neighborhoods and areas along major transportation thoroughfares by using in-house materials to eliminate the carbon footprint of transportation as much as possible.
SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL AUTHORITY
Formed in 1985, the Solid Waste Disposal Authority is a public, nonprofit corporation responsible for the finance and operation of the City and County’s solid waste management system. SWDA offers its curbside recycling program through the Recycling Alliance of North Alabama. It also:
- Manages a household hazardous waste collection program
- Converts waste into steam/energy
- Evaluates programs and activities to be proactive about environmental concerns and issues
TRANSPORTATION & ROADS
The typical Huntsville street includes two layers of asphalt. The lower layer is called binder, while the upper layer is the wearing course. City specifications allow up to 15 percent recycled asphalt product (RAP) in the wearing course and a typical Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) allowance of 20 percent in the binder course.
Huntsville Transit operates low emission/sulfur diesel buses on 11 bus routes throughout the City. Buses, which include bicycle racks for first- and last-mile commuting, carry more than 3,000 daily riders, providing a fast, convenient and greener alternative to riding alone.
Huntsville Transit also partners with Commute with Enterprise on a growing citywide and regional vanpooling network. As the City plans for future growth, leaders will explore electric buses and other new technologies to provide environmentally friendly transit options for all.