Deanna Reed


Deanna Reed (D) is the program director at a local nonprofit focused on youth empowerment who is running for Harrisonburg City Council. She is running for re-election, and currently serves as Mayor. According to the Deanna Reed for Harrisonburg City Council website, her campaign centers around Education, Opportunity, and Community. Mayor Reed has been a proponent for Harrisonburg’s Environmental Action Plan and was the featured speaker at Climate Action Alliance of the Valley’s Earth Day Celebration at Purcell Park in 2018.

See her responses to CAAV’s Questionnaire below the list of questions:

1) Do you support the 50×25 campaign?

2) How would you implement the 3 goals of the 50×25 campaign?

3) What would you do to increase or facilitate the adoption of renewable energies or solar in City and School buildings?

4) How would you prioritize city and state resources for addressing environmental justice concerns, specifically energy efficiency for low income housing?

5) What do you think about recycling?

6) Is there anything Harrisonburg can do to reduce transportation emissions, the largest sector of climate change emissions in VA and the United States?

I’m happy to think that Virginia is already moving in this direction with Governor Northam’s Executive Order in September to reduce Virginia’s fossil fuels to zero by 2050. There are certainly actions that the city can consider to adopt more energy-efficient measures, and I believe it is important to listen to the climate experts and to more carefully explore initiatives like the 50×25 Campaign that are advocating for an improved environment. I know that any efforts to combat global warming are going to require massive buy in from city residents and that means that it is important that we include those residents in the decision making process. A collaborative model, where we ask citizens to participate alongside experts in looking for solutions, will work much better than a top-down heavy-handed approach.

I think it is important to find cost-effective ways to introduce renewable energy sources. Bluestone Elementary School is a wonderful example incorporating renewable energy to create a strong return on our investment. Our city staff and school board work extremely hard looking for these solutions and I fully support their dedication to creating the best balance of affordable and renewable energy. This is another area where further collaboration with community groups and climate experts will benefit the city, and I believe that we can collaborate with other area governments and the state government to explore best practices and interventions. These solutions do not exist in isolation, so our approach to environmental issues will require that we work in concert with others.

One of the things I believe the 50×25 Campaign is asking for is a culture shift in the way we consider our city’s energy consumption and how we envision our future. To do this, we need to continually work to educate one another about climate change and its impacts on our community, and to look for the relationships between climate and other key issues the city is facing. For example, we are increasing bus schedules and routes to offer more public transportation options for residents. Improving bus usage can decrease our reliance on cars and cut greenhouse emissions, just as our efforts to improve our bike routes can also help in this area. The tie in between energy efficiency and affordable housing is another great example of how the issues are interrelated. As we seek solutions for affordable housing, we know that reducing utility bills for low-income residents is key. All these issues tie together in a way that motivates and excites me as the Mayor of this City. I’m grateful for the work of our community advocacy groups to move these conversations forward.

Charles Hendricks


Charles Hendricks (D) is an architect and small business owner who is running for Harrisonburg City Council. According to the Hendricks for Harrisonburg website, his campaign centers around Sustainability, Business, and Community. He has been working to combat climate change, promote sustainability, and increase building efficiency for nearly 20 years. Charles has been a guest speaker at several of CAAV’s past community events. He supports the 50 by 25 campaign as a first step for Harrisonburg “to become a model city for sustainability in the Commonwealth.”

See his responses to CAAV’s Questionnaire below:

1. Do you support the 50×25 campaign?

I have been working to combat climate change, promote sustainability, and increase building efficiency for the last 20 years. The 50 x 25 campaign is achievable, timely, and is needed.

Over the last 4 years I have worked with Renew Rocktown, Harrisonburg Electric Commission, and on my own to provide more than 100 free energy audits for homes, businesses, and churches in the area. I have empowered these residents to reduce their carbon footprint, increase the comfort of their building, and save money. This work is incredibly important to the 50 x 25 goals. I have also designed buildings that are LEED Certified, EarthCraft Certified, Home Performance with Energy Star Certified, Net-Zero, and Carbon Neutral for clients across the Commonwealth. I teach classes on how to make buildings more energy efficient for community groups, schools, Universities, and even the Department of Energy. This is a passion for me, and I believe the 50 x 25 campaign is a great first step for the City of Harrisonburg becoming a model city for sustainability in the Commonwealth.

2. How would you implement the 3 goals of the 50×25 campaign?

    • Adopt a solar and wind energy requirement of 50% by 2025 and 100% by 2040.
    • Improve energy efficiency by 25% in municipal and school operations by 2025.
    • Incentivize energy efficiency programs to reduce energy poverty among city residents.

These are very achievable goals for Harrisonburg.

Solar Photovoltaic is less expensive than grid energy (retail prices) and we should spread that message to every homeowner in Harrisonburg including through and by HEC. If you have equity in your home, have an unshaded south facing roof – Solar PV is your best possible financial and environmental investment. This also holds true for commercial buildings which often have enough roof space to install large solar arrays and can take advantage of advanced depreciation providing resiliency for their business and an incredible return on investment. Solar in Harrisonburg is a great solution. Wind is a challenge here in the Valley.

Adding the word sustainability to HEC’s mandate to provide reliable and affordable power to Harrisonburg could be the first step towards the 50 x 25 goals.

I have worked hard over the last 20 years to understand building science. I know how to improve buildings using affordable solutions. We need to have a comprehensive understanding of current building by building energy usage or EUI. As a result of this information and having the EUI (Energy Use Intensity) of each building we can create a plan of action to find efficiencies in all our public buildings and implement solutions to achieve those efficiencies. We can also enhance our community understanding of building science through our monthly newsletter, social media campaign, and direct mailings. If users of buildings understand their impacts on the energy use, the energy use can be reduced through behavioral changes.

It is critical that the city establish an energy performance standard for every new building being built by the city, every existing city owned building, and offer incentives for every building being built by the private sector in the city. This performance standard should set out as a goal to achieve at least 50 x 25. We have potential to move faster and achieve higher goals as we make Harrisonburg a more resilient city. This will take coordination with HEC, but that is certainly possible, and the goals are attainable.

We should also encourage expansion and awareness of HEC’s energy audit program and incorporate a weatherization program with it. There are many changes that can be easily made in affordable housing that will create more comfort while reducing energy usage.

Solar is the least expensive holistically, but there are other improvements that are easy and fast to implement.

3. What would you do to increase or facilitate the adoption of renewable energies or solar in City and School buildings?

I have promoted Solar PV through my work as an architect and have designed many projects that incorporate solar PV. I have given lectures across the country on building science, sustainability, and zero energy buildings to increase awareness and share my knowledge. If elected to Harrisonburg City Council I will advocate for an energy performance standard in the city for all public buildings that includes implementation of Solar PV.

I would support the City Council creating a renewable energy requirement for HEC to meet by 2025. City Council should encourage the school board to set a minimum standard for all new buildings to be solar ready. Further I believe the City should set an example by adding Solar PV to public buildings to offset taxpayer dollars used to operate these structures. Setting a renewable energy goal for all city operations is a strategy that I believe would make a huge difference such as 30% renewable energy by 2022.

4. How would you prioritize city and state resources for addressing environmental justice concerns, specifically energy efficiency for low income housing?

I believe it is possible to provide not only free energy audits through HEC, but also weatherization solutions through the city for low income housing. Weatherization efforts could be carried out through HEC’s Energy Share program which currently only helps individuals pay their winter electricity bills. It does not address the root causes of energy poverty, energy inefficient homes and apartments. Our most important role as a city should be providing basic services and making sure our residents have a safe and healthy place to live, work, learn, and play. I believe all new projects being built in the city that must have a rezoning or special use permit that include housing should offer affordable units and dedicated workforce housing (housing that is affordable to households earning 60 to 120% of the area median income). Along with this I believe that these same projects should be rewarded with added density options to offset this cost along with implementing energy-efficiency solutions to add to the affordability. We should work with area organizations that assist low income housing like Build United with education, connection, and in the future potentially funding weatherization solutions and solar PV installation. I applaud the work already being done by Harrisonburg Housing & Redevelopment Authority as they install solar on low income housing in partnership with Secure Futures. Making clean energy accessible to low income people should be a priority for a resilient city. I applaud the work done last year at Our Community Place and Gemeinschaft Home in partnership with Give Solar and Green Hill Solar to add Solar PV to reduce their annual operating costs to better serve their missions. There are creative ways to help those in our community that need the support the most and I see it happening through private industry – the city should support these efforts fully.

5. What do you think about recycling?

Recycling is a downgrading of materials (a cradle to grave approach), is financially challenging, and does not benefit the environment holistically. However, we need to continue our recycling efforts until we can figure out ways to be good instead of less bad. Recycling is simply less bad. The city can and should focus on reducing usage as a first line of defense (cradle to cradle approach). The city should continue the mobile recycling center to make it more convenient for residents to recycle their used plastics, cardboard, and metals. If the global economy shifts and economic viability of recycling at a greater scale increases again, we should re-evaluate our systems. However, for now the mobile center seems like a viable solution.

I am supportive of efforts to reduce plastic use in our city. I do not think it is the right time to institute a “plastic tax” for bag use in this economy. However, I do think there are ways to encourage behavioral change without financial burdens to our residents. Education is my first choice.

I have seen how demand can influence industry change. If our City creates larger demand for reusable receptables (closed loop) then we could influence manufacturers to make different decisions for their products. Cities collaborating with other cities would increase this change to happen.

The city also could implement a curbside composting service working with a company like Black Bear Composting. Charlottesville was able to divert 267,920 pounds of waste from their landfill last year using this service. Harrisonburg, thanks to local citizen efforts, diverted 11,200 pounds using the same service. Harrisonburg has a lot of potential growth here. The city could also take on the task of creating composting options at the recycling convenience center as other cities have done.

6. Is there anything Harrisonburg can do to reduce transportation emissions, the largest sector of climate change emissions in VA and the United States?

Harrisonburg has done great things to improve the bike trail network in Harrisonburg over the last 10 years. There is more to come, and more multi-use paths are in the works. We need to continue to build out greenways, bike lanes, and public transportation solutions to further reduce our transportation emissions.

We should also continue to look for optimizations in our systems. Electric buses are one option – although again in this time of economic uncertainty I am not advocating for purchasing new buses. We should continue to look at rider patterns, survey potential riders, and make sure we are fully serving our community with the public transportation systems that are available. We should also look at signage, crosswalk, and sidewalk options through our entire city. I know from walking the streets of Harrisonburg there are some safe places “not to be in a car” and some places where there is no good time of day to walk or ride a bike. We need to work hard to improve the options to get out of a car in our city.

Making solutions as easy as possible for our residents is the best way to change patterns and reduce our transportation emissions.

I am also eager to work with JMU on ways to reduce the number of cars JMU students bring to town each year. The addition of parking decks not only increases the ability for students to bring their cars it also increases the distance they are willing to travel – increasing the number of students living in the County. We want and need these students living in the city limits as they bring economic vitality that helps offset the increased demands they put on our public services. I believe there is a better balance available than currently exists and this will certainly help reduce transportation emissions on a city scale.

A pdf version of Charles Hendricks’ answers to CAAV’s questions can be found here.

Charles has also posted these questions and answers, with photos, to his website here.

Luciano Benjamin

Luciano Benjamin (D) is a senior college student graduating with a degree in Political Science who is running for Harrisonburg City Council. According to the Luciano for Harrisonburg City Council website, his campaign centers around Achieving Affordable Housing for All, Boldly Addressing the Climate Crisis, and Embracing Harrisonburg’s Cultural Diversity. Luciano is a proponent of the Harrisonburg 50 by 25 Campaign and collaborated with CAAV and other allies as one of the student organizers of the Harrisonburg Climate Strikes in 2019.

See his responses to CAAV’s Questionnaire below:

1) Do you support the 50×25 campaign?

Yes absolutely!

2) How would you implement the 3 goals of the 50×25 campaign?

To implement the first goal, 50% of our energy coming from renewable sources by 2025, of the 50 by 25 campaign I would commit to making sure that all of our new city buildings, schools included, are constructed with solar built-in. I would also push to retrofit all existing city municipal and school buildings with solar. Our current contract with Dominion stops us from buying energy from renewable sources or constructing our own municipal renewable energy plants. I would like for us to have a conversation as a community to determine whether or not we are willing to break the contract with Dominion so we could pursue constructing our own municipal solar farm and if we do so, how would we pay for the fine that would be incurred. I would also support a financing option, through loans and subsidies, to ensure that our working-class families have access to being able to put solar panels on their own homes, reducing their energy bills and our reliance on non-renewable energy.

To implement the second goal, 25% greater energy efficiency for city municipal and school buildings, I would begin by continuing to support the EPSAC recommendations for the city to create an Internal Energy Team to determine how we can operate to a higher standard in our city buildings and where improvements can be made. Following that, it is critical that we adopt the most recent edition of the International Energy Conservation Code, as per EPSAC recommendations, for our new buildings. We also must retrofit our existing city buildings to ensure that they meet these same standards. We as a city must also expand the Harrisonburg Electric Commission’s (HEC) Home Energy Audit, so residents throughout our city can have access to a free energy audit that will allow them to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, saving them money on their electric bill.

To implement the third goal, create programs that encourage weatherization and energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings, I once again turn to expand the HEC’s Home Energy Audit program so that residents throughout our city have free access to this critical service, on-demand. We must do more to make sure all of our residents are aware of this program as well, which means making sure it is available in multiple languages, at a minimum.

3) What would you do to increase or facilitate the adoption of renewable energies or solar in City and School buildings?

All new city/school buildings must be built with solar energy sources as a part of the design. We, as a city, must lead the way if we want our residents to also put solar panels on their own homes. All existing city/school buildings must also be retrofit with renewable energy sources.

4) How would you prioritize city and state resources for addressing environmental justice concerns, specifically energy efficiency for low-income housing?

All too often, working-class families struggle to participate in the environmental movement, not because they do not care, but because they lack the resources to make their homes energy-efficient or to power their homes with renewable sources, like solar. As a consequence, working-class families are often the most negatively affected by the climate crisis. As a city councilor, I will commit to making sure that the city makes available programs, like the HEC Home Energy Audit, to our working-class families first. To reiterate what I have previously said, I would also work to make sure working-class families have financing options available to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and to put solar on them, through loans and subsidies.

5) What do you think about recycling?

I am absolutely in favor of recycling and I am thrilled our city still has a recycling program. We must do more to expand it, even in the face of difficulties of finding buyers for some of our recyclables. Our city is filled with brilliant and talented individuals, whose skills should be put to work to find creative, local solutions to deal with the issues we may have with some of our recyclables. I am also in favor of resuming curbside recycling pickup as soon as funding allows.

6) Is there anything Harrisonburg can do to reduce transportation emissions, the largest sector of climate change emissions in VA and the United States?

There are absolutely things that Harrisonburg can do to reduce transportation emissions in our city. Step one is creating the finest public transit system in the country. We must work to phase out our current bus fleet with buses that are powered by renewable sources, whether that be electricity, biofuel, etc. Whenever we, as a city, buy new vehicles for our public transit fleet we must make sure that they are built to a high standard and do not further contribute to transportation emissions in our city. We must also do more to make sure our public transit system works for all of our city residents, allowing them to travel from their jobs to their homes and to our commercial centers. We must every year determine how we can make our public transit systems operate most efficiently to the benefit of all our city residents. In addition to all this, we must continue to work to make our city pedestrian and bicycle-friendly, so that individuals feel comfortable and safe biking and walking to their school, job, home, etc. One way I would accomplish this would be through the city creating more dedicated bike lanes. We must also create more pedestrian-only areas, to make our city more walkable.

A pdf version of Luciano Benjamin’s answers to the CAAV questions is here.

Luciano has also answered the questions in a YouTube video here.

Legislation Roundup 2020

We are providing a new space on our website that focuses on national, state, and local legislation that we want folks to know about. Our first presentation pertains to the recent VA General Assembly (GA) session. If you have questions about what you find here, please reach out to contactcaav [at]

This year’s GA considered a huge number of bills pertaining to the environment, climate change, energy, conservation, and utilities. The session has now ended and many bills await the Governor’s signature. Because the number of these bills is so large, and because of their potential to change the landscape in these important areas, CAAV is presenting a summary of 15 of what we believe are among the most significant. We are including how the Central Valley Legislators voted on them.

See the spreadsheet below; passed bills are in green and those that failed are in red. Use the sliders to access the entire spreadsheet. If you have a different state senator and/or delegate than those shown, you can use the listed link to locate a bill on Virginia’s Legislative Information System (LIS),, to find out how your representative voted. We have included a few bills that did not pass. We are also providing links to media coverage of several of the more notable bills, identified by subject.

The document below the spreadsheet provides details from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network about the VA Clean Economy Act, arguably one of the most complex bills passed.

Joy Loving for the CAAV Legislative and Elections Committee

Media Coverage


Electric Utility Regulations

Clean Energy


View the spreadsheet below in Google Sheets HERE.

Click “Ctrl” (Control) and “+” to enlarge the print if needed for ease of viewing. Note that this may cause extra sliders to appear just outside the original, shorter ones which allow viewing of the complete spreadsheet.  You can use “Ctrl/-” to reset the size.

View this document on CCAN’s website HERE.