Planning Department, 1 Junkins Avenue, Portsmouth, NH 03801, Phone: (603) 610 - 7215

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Sustainable Initiatives
City of Portsmouth, NH

When Portsmouth completed its citywide Master Plan in 2005, residents made clear their desire for a more sustainable City. Over the last four years, the City Council and the City Manager and his staff have actively committed to making that happen—policy choices, the infrastructure decisions and approaches to providing City services all reflect our commitment to meeting sustainability goals.

City Sustainability Efforts Save Resources and Money


libraryIn just two years, the new “green” Portsmouth Public Library has achieved substantial energy savings despite being more than twice the size of its former home, thanks to its design.

The Library, New Hampshire’s first municipal building to receive the prestigious LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, has been recognized for its design and construction in the areas of energy conservation, recycling, materials selection, and daylight and views. Even though the new building is 116 percent larger than the old facility and open more often, the amount of natural gas used to heat it decreased by 66.7 percent, or $20,000, in the first full year of operation. Despite being twice the size, electricity consumption was only up 50 percent from the former site.

GarageGarage lighting

In February 2009, the City replaced the lighting in the High-Hanover Parking Garage with 275 compact fluorescent fixtures, which is expected to reduce energy consumption by 25%. As a result, the City anticipates saving estimated $21,000 annually.

New water treatment plant

The City completed construction of a new drinking water treatment plant in Madbury. This project followed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) principles. Its energy use and cost are expected to be 30% lower than a conventional design. Solar hot water collectors, heat pumps and “daylight harvesting” are some of the features that will reduce both the carbon footprint of this new facility, as well as its annual operating costs.

New Fire Station

The City has completed construction of Fire Station 2 in the summer of 2010 at its new location, 3010 Lafayette Road. This project also has been built as following LEED principles of design. Some of the “green” features of this project include a super-insulated building envelope, high-efficiency natural gas boilers for heat and innovative site features to treat stormwater. These features will result in significant annual operating cost savings and improved environmental conditions over a conventionally designed and built facility

Portsmouth Middle SchoolMiddle School

The Portsmouth Middle School construction is underway. This project is also following “green” design and construction principles.  Portsmouth Middle School incorporates environmentally sustainable features, such as:

  • Using “green” materials in the construction
  • Improving the energy efficiency of the 80yearold building
  • Improving water efficiency
  • Using renewable energy whenever possible
  • Improving the indoor environment for students and teachers, thus increasing opportunities for a positive learning environment.

The project follows the guidelines of the Northeast Collaborative for High Performance Schools, which is comparable to LEED certification for other buildings

City Buildings

With the help of grant funding, the City is utilizing its greenhouse gas emissions inventory as a baseline tool to quantify energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The data will be used to guide, and prioritize, facility upgrades to further reduce annual operating costs. The City also recently replaced the flat roofing on the Municipal Complex, and the Connie Bean and Spinnaker Point Recreation Centers with products designed to double the lifespan and insulation value, which will reduce taxpayer costs.

Water Kits
Water Conservation Kits

The City of Portsmouth also has a track record for instituting conservation measures in conjunction with its drinking water delivery system. It offered customers a free water conservation kit with various items designed to reduce water usage, including low-flow shower heads and dye tablets to determine if toilets leaked.

Leak detection

Keeping the over 180 miles of drinking water pipes intact is a difficult job, but the City recently began a program to identify leaks in the system. The City is in the process of acquiring a device to assist in determining where water is leaving water pipes when it shouldn’t be. 

Automated Meter Reading

In addition, the City has begun installing a system to use radio and Ethernet connections to check the nearly 8,000 water meters in its water system serving Portsmouth, Newington, New Castle, and Rye, as well as locations in Greenland, Madbury, Dover and Durham. Not only will they allow for monthly billing rather than every four months, these meters can read water usage in real time. By determining when a household’s low flow should occur, the meter can take a reading during that time and alert the homeowner to possible leaks.