Last year, Chesterfield County, Va. -- population 306,000 -- leveraged environmental initiatives to lower the county's energy requirements while reducing costs. Here are some highlights among the county's many improvements and innovations which garnered a first-place finish in the 2010 Digital Counties Survey:
- The county began applying energy saving measures to buildings in 2004 that have since driven down electricity, natural gas and propane costs in administrative and court buildings by 20 percent.
- Within the past year, 30 percent of IT staff have begun teleworking, with a savings of 26,000 commuter miles, 1,400 gallons of gas, and 10-16 tons of carbon emissions, among others. The county plans to expand the program throughout the county in the next few years.
- The Parks and Recreation Department is expanding remote control of field lighting, irrigation and other equipment to reduce staff hours, travel expense and cost of electricity.
- The county has also improved citizen engagement. A recent social media policy, for example, allows the county to engage with citizens at the departmental level.
- All citizen-facing projects -- such as the website redesign, Citizen Wi-Fi and Citizen GIS mapping -- have members of the public on those project steering committees.
- Among the long list of accomplishments, Chesterfield County strives for openness and puts its Board Meetings, special sessions and budget meetings online and in recorded form for viewing.