Today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Richmond was announced as the nation’s 1st Place winner for the Large City Category in the 2016 Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards, an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Walmart. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this mayors’ awards program recognizes mayors for their energy and climate protection efforts, selected by an independent panel of judges from a pool of mayoral applicants. New Bedford, MA Mayor Jonathan F. Mitchell won first place in the Small City Category.
Click here to watch the live stream of Mayor Jones receiving the award.
“Mayors Jon Mitchell and Dwight Jones are both innovators and leaders, showing us how to confront the energy and climate protection challenges before our cities and the nation,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. “As we witnessed in Paris late last year, it is the mayors who are the first responders in this global battle, whether it is reducing harmful emissions or fortifying their cities to withstand increasing threats from climatic events.”
"Improving the quality of life for our residents and creating a healthy environment while enhancing economic development and job creation opportunities are our triple bottom-line goals of RVAgreen,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “As the first and only local government in Central Virginia to create a formal sustainability program, we’ve been able to lead the way with improvements from our CNG fleet conversions, expanded recycling efforts, community gardens program, new bike infrastructure, and many other efforts that make up our 55 initiatives under the plan.”
The following comes from the Mayors and Climate Protection Best Practices report sent out by The United States Conference of Mayors:
First Place Winner Richmond, VA and Mayor Dwight C. Jones -- RVAgreen, the City’s Sustainability and Energy Management Program, makes the city of Richmond more livable, more competitive, and more resilient, while improving the economic and environmental performance of its government operations. This community-based plan developed over a yearlong process with the input of more than 400 citizens and 65 stakeholder organizations and has five focus areas: economic development, energy, environment, open space and land use, and transportation.
From the baseline year of 2008-2013, the program has reduced CO2 emissions within city government operations by almost nine percent and community GHG emissions by nearly six percent.
Richmond was the first and is still the only local government in the Central Virginia region to create a formal sustainability program. An innovative feature of this city effort is the depth of collaboration with the community. RVAgreen is a community-based plan that was the result of a yearlong community-based planning effort, involving more than 400 citizens and 65 stakeholder organizations. The plan’s 55 initiatives are being implemented in partnership with the community.
RVAgreen has improved the city’s quality of life in many ways:
- Converted all 520 signalized intersections in the city limits from incandescent to LED lamps;
- City construction and renovation projects over 10,000 sq. ft. to achieve a minimum of LEED Silver Certification;
- CNG fleet conversions to save money, operate more efficiently and reduce harmful emissions: fleet of 32 diesel refuse trucks converted to 25 CNG trucks; assisted Richmond International Airport in converting its 14 shuttle bus fleet to CNG vehicles, and working with the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) to replace its fleet of diesel buses with CNG buses;
- Created a stormwater utility to better manage stormwater runoff and encourage green practices by offering credits to commercial and residential customers that implement practices on their property;
- Expanded curbside recycling service to all city residents and in the process of implementing pay as you throw to enhance recycling further;
- Installed 44 Big Belly solar-powered trash cans and recycling units on city sidewalks;
- City’s Community Garden Program to offer vacant parcels to residents to grow fresh, organic food in neighborhoods;
- Created the James River Park Conservation Easement to conserve 280 acres along the James River from future development;
- Since 2010 the city has planted and established nearly 2,000 trees annually;
- Expanding multi-modal transportation options via Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on a main artery through downtown;
- Developed a Bicycle Master Plan that strategically plans greenways and connectors;
- Obtained Bronze level Bike Friendly Community status;
- Built 25 miles of bike infrastructure since 2010; and
- Completed the Virginia Capital Trail – a 53-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail that connects Richmond to Williamsburg.
The international event attracted more than 645,000 spectators with more than 1,000 professional cycling athletes from 75 countries competing in 12 world championship races. The city rose to the challenge and accelerated its RVAgreen sustainability initiatives, ensuring the event was a sustainability success and that it had a lasting positive impact on the community.