Thursday, October 28, 2010

City of Richmond to Adopt Electric Vehicle Pilot for City Fleet

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that the city will launch an electric vehicle pilot for the city’s fleet. The announcement coincided with a visit from Ford Motor Company as part of Ford's "Charging into the Future Electric Vehicle Tour" that began in Portland, Ore. in August. Richmond was chosen as one of 14 stops where Ford is debuting the Transit Connect Electric demo vehicle. The following is Mayor Jones' statement from the press conference:

"I want to thank everyone for being here today. I don’t get very many "firsts" in life anymore; but today I've just completed another first for me - the driving of an all-electric vehicle. It's amazing to be standing here in front of Main Street Station - an historic railroad station originally built in 1901 - and today one can drive up in an all-electric powered vehicle. Main Street Station is a focal point for much of the city's multi-modal transportation efforts; like bus rapid transit, the capital trail and our strategic multi-modal transportation plan. So, it is fitting that we gather you all at this site today as we look into the future.

"I'm pleased to announce the city of Richmond's plans to conduct a test pilot of electric vehicles in our city fleet. We plan to purchase and test up to four all-electric vehicles in our city motor pool fleet. And if the pilot is successful, we may replace as many as 40 vehicles with all-electric vehicles as the fleet vehicles are scheduled for replacement over the coming years.

"Today's test drive involves the Ford Transit Connect Electric demo vehicle, manufactured in conjunction with Azure Dynamics. Ford has chosen Richmond as one of 14 city stops that are part of the 'Charging into the Future Electric Vehicle Tour.' I want to thank Ford for selecting Richmond as part of the tour and I want to thank Azure Dynamics for bringing the vehicle to Richmond. I hope you all will test drive the vehicle while they are here in our city for this effort.

"For the city fleet, the vehicles we will be procuring will be passenger sedans. These types of electric vehicles are just starting to come to market. The city will have a competitive process for the vehicles that we will purchase, and the pilot project will depend largely on when the vehicles are available; however we anticipate mid to late next year.

"Electric vehicles are just one part of my overall sustainability strategy for the city of Richmond. Under the Green Richmond Initiative, we've implemented a number of efforts designed to help us operate more efficiently, reduce energy and fuel use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this week we accepted the Silver Green Government certification from the Virginia Municipal League. And we were recognized for several new environmental initiatives that reduce the carbon emissions within our government and within our community.

"In the transportation sector alone, we are transitioning the fleet of garbage trucks from diesel to compressed natural gas. We are reducing the number of trucks from 37 to 25 and not only will the trucks operate more efficiently, use less gas and save money, but the trucks will produce less carbon dioxide and other emissions. The city has long been encouraging alternative transportation to work and we offer free bus fare to employees that participate in the GRTC Rideshare Program. In addition, we are exploring opportunities for telecommuting and more carpooling as well as teleconferencing.

"An effort I'm particularly proud of involves the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Planning Commission which I formed earlier this year to recommend specific measures to reduce vehicle miles traveled and make Richmond more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. Those final recommendations are on the way to me in the coming weeks.

"So, we've been busy, ladies and gentlemen, establishing our vision and moving forward with Building a Better Richmond and a Green Richmond. The city of Richmond is committed to sustainability and I want the residents of Richmond to enjoy an improved quality of life, a healthy environment and enhanced economic development and job creation opportunities. This pilot project and other sustainability efforts on behalf of the city are poised to help continue to move us toward becoming a Tier One city and we look forward to embracing the future with all of you."


Monday, October 25, 2010

Richmond Honored for Important Achievements in Sustainability and the Environment

The city of Richmond was honored recently with two important awards in recognition of its commitment to and achievements in climate protection and sustainability. On October 5, 2010, the city of Richmond received a Silver Award in the 2010 Virginia Municipal League (VML) Green Government Challenge during the VML Annual Conference in Hampton, Virginia. The VML will ceremonially present the award to Mayor Dwight C. Jones and the Richmond City Council at tonight's regularly scheduled city council meeting.

The Green Government Challenge is a friendly competition among local governments to encourage the implementation of specific environmental policies and practical actions that reduce carbon emissions. Local governments can earn between 100 and 124 “green points” by adopting policies or implementing actions in categories ranging from energy efficiency and green buildings to land-use and innovation. In addition, local governments can earn Silver, Gold and Platinum levels of certification for scores of 125 points or higher. Thirty-one cities, towns and counties participated in the 2010 Green Government Challenge. Of those 31 participating, 21 achieved the minimum score of 100 “green points” that was necessary for certification as a “VML Green Government.”

Richmond earned its Silver Award by implementing a number of new initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and utilize energy resources more efficiently including:

· Hiring the city’s first Energy Manager, Larry Burkett, a certified energy manager with over 30 years experience in the energy field to work with the city’s Sustainability Manager, Alicia Zatcoff, to develop a comprehensive Energy Management Program that includes improving the energy performance of all city agencies, creating operational efficiencies and identifying cost savings;

· Retrofitting traffic signals with LED lights. The Department of Public Works will convert 220 intersections by the end of 2010. This is estimated to save taxpayers more than $108,000 in annual energy costs. The city will also save more than $78,000 in annual maintenance costs. The city has a total of 469 signalized intersections.; and

· Creating the first two Green Alleys in the city, the 5th Street Alley and the 12th Street Alley, to reduce stormwater pollution by using permeable pavers which allow water to soak through rather than run off.

Mayor Dwight C. Jones indicated that he is "pleased with the progress the city is making thus far. We've already identified annual savings of over $100,000 because of our sustainability efforts with city agencies and I want to continue our efforts to improve the environment and save taxpayer dollars."

Also, on September 25, 2010, the city of Richmond was recognized for completing its Baseline Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and therefore completing Milestone One of the ICLEI Five Milestone process. ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA, the leading local government association addressing climate change and sustainability, made the presentation before an audience of 250 local leaders and sustainability experts in Washington, D.C. as part of its biannual Local Action Summit.

“We are thrilled to have an opportunity to recognize the great work and continued commitment to sustainability and the environment demonstrated by Mayor Dwight C. Jones. The city of Richmond’s commendable efforts are improving the quality of life of its residents, and in doing so our larger global community,” said Martin Ch├ívez, Executive Director, ICLEI USA and three-term mayor of Albuquerque, NM.

“I am honored to receive this award on behalf of the city of Richmond, our community, our committed employees and community partners. We are working hard to continue our progress towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency and clean energy use, developing the local green economy and improving the quality of life for our residents,” said Alicia Zatcoff, Sustainability Manager.

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