Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Governor Northam Kicks Off Richmond Public Schools "Solar-Bration"

Governor Ralph Northam kicked off the “solar-bration” on Friday, February 21, marking the completion of Richmond Public School’s initial solar power purchase agreement (PPA) project.


Huguenot High School solar installation.  Photo courtesy of Secure Futures Solar

In 2019, a combined 2.9 megawatts of solar power was installed on 10 Richmond school buildings, making it the largest solar installation on a school district in Virginia to date. RPS is expected to save $2 million in electricity costs over the 20-year agreement. The panels were installed at no capital cost to the schools by Secure Futures Solar.

7th District School Board Representative Cheryl Burke with students Max Boehm, June Boehm, and Tynashia Pinkston, who helped advocate for solar on their school at Fisher Elementary.

As Governor Northam noted, this project brings the three E’s to Richmond Public Schools:  environment, energy and the economy, and provides a great model for the Commonwealth and other states. The solar project provides learning opportunities for students in several areas of STEAMH (science, technology, engineering, the arts, math, and health) and pathways to jobs for the 21st century.

Governor Northam with RPS student solar advocates.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Richmond Joins Biophilic Cities Network

On December 5, 2019, Mayor Levar Stoney issued a proclamation supporting the City of Richmond's application to join the Biophilic Cities Network, a global community of cities from all over the world whose leaders strive to recognize the important connection between humans and the natural world.
As stated in the proclamation, "a biophilic city is a city of abundant nature where residents, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, and ability, have rich daily contact with the natural environment no matter where they reside; where larger natural areas and deeper experiences are an easy walk, bike, or transit ride away; and where the urban environment allows for and fosters connections with diverse flora and fauna."


Biophilic RVA event
Maggie Anderson, Policy Analyst & Advisor, Office of the Mayor, accepts Richmond's Biophilic Cities Network certificate from Network founder Tim Beatley during the 2020 Richmond Environmental Film Festival


The commitment to becoming a biophilic city with abundant and accessible nature will support many City initiatives, including RVAgreen 2050, the city's equity-centered, integrated climate action and resilience planning initiative, as well as Richmond 300RVAH2O, and the James River Park System Master Plan, among others. As a member of the Network, Richmond will have access to peer and expert knowledge exchange and resources on promoting access to nature for the well-being and health of Richmond residents.

Among the nearly 3,000 acres of parkland in the city are green spaces ranging from pocket parks nestled in historic neighborhoods to regional attractions like the James River Park System. These spaces are critical for managing stormwater, providing animal habitats, improving health outcomes, and providing a sense of place, among other benefits. In his January 2020 State of the City address, Mayor Stoney committed to identifying up to 10 additional parcels of unoccupied, city-owned land to provide more access to parks for all Richmonders. These green spaces will be designed in a way that best suits the needs of the surrounding community, and will be identified using data gathered by the Office of Sustainability for the Climate Equity Index and heat island maps created by Jeremy Hoffman, Chief Scientist at the Science Museum of Virginia.
By expanding on its existing plans and projects and becoming a Biophilic City, Richmond can set an example as a city that contains abundant biodiversity and nature, that works to conserve and create new natural resources, and fosters a connection to the natural world. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Richmond Sustainability Manager and Peers Visit European Commission on Study Tour

Local efforts to address climate change in U.S. and European cities brought together a select group of sustainability leaders this summer in Europe, including City of Richmond Sustainability Manager, Alicia Zatcoff.
Alicia joined a small group of U.S. sustainability leaders for a European Union-funded study tour to promote transatlantic relationships in urban planning aimed at promoting a lower carbon future on both sides of the Atlantic. The delegation began in Brussels, Belgium and made stops at the Port of Antwerp; the city of Nijmegen, Netherlands; and Oslo, Norway timed with the 2019 European Green Capitals award ceremony. The study tour also visited the European Commission - the executive body of the European Union - where they discussed policy with EU officials on climate impact and energy efficiency across the continent.
“The most innovative urban plans and impactful regional efforts can really make a difference if they are replicated around the world,” said Fabrice Vareille, head of global innovation at the European Union Delegation to the United States. “The EU invests in our cities and awards Green Capitals because we know this support makes a difference in our collective drive for climate action, and we appreciate the commitment from so many U.S. cities toward our shared goals of moving to a low-carbon economy.”
This study tour follows a 2018 effort the EU organized to bring diplomats from several European countries to see energy programs and climate action policies in place at the local level in the U.S. Nicole Wanders-Wengler of the EU Commission's Directorate General for Environment said of the tour, “I hope this is not the end but rather the beginning to making our cities greener, better places.”
U.S. participants included mid-career professionals and elected officials. These experts were selected for their expertise and experience in the areas of sustainability, and environmental studies, and urban planning. The delegation was comprised of representations from the following governments:
  • City of Aspen (Colorado)
  • City of Cincinnati (Ohio)
  • City of Fort Collins (Colorado)
  • City of Fremont (California)
  • City of Phoenix (Arizona)
  • City of Portland (Oregon)
  • City of Providence (Rhode Island)
  • City of Richmond (Virginia)
  • Metro Nashville (Tennessee) Government
  • Metropolitan Washington (DC) Council of Governments
  • State of Minnesota
  • State of Tennessee