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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