City News

Sustainability

Become a Clean Air Scientist!

The Science Museum of Virginia's new RVAir initiative is seeking volunteer citizen scientists to help study air quality in Richmond neighborhoods. From the RVAir website:

According to our project partners at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Richmond region experienced zero unhealthy ozone air quality days for the first time since monitoring began in the 1970s in 2019 (yay!). However, the National Asthma and Allergy Foundation consistently ranks Richmond as the second worst city in the U.S. Why might this be?

Unfortunately, air quality ratings for the entire Richmond area is based on data from only two locations! We know from studies in other cities that local changes in the environment such as wide streets, traffic volume, close proximity to interstates and the number of trees lining streets can significantly change the amount of pollution in the air we breathe.

By getting local experts (you!) to help us get locally-specific air quality data throughout Richmond, we can help create home-grown solutions to Richmond’s climate resiliency challenge.

Kendra Norrell, the City's Office of Sustainability Community Engagement Coordinator, recently participated in the initiative. Read more about her experience below.


RVAir Supplies
Bag, tablet, air sensor, and walking directions

On Monday, August 17, 2020, the Science Museum of Virginia (the Museum), through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, started the public engagement phase of their air quality testing project in Richmond. This is the perfect opportunity for anyone in the Richmond area that has ever wanted to participate in community science! The RVAir program (which you can read more about at smv.org/explore/rvair) is the Museum’s newest community science project. 

I went to the Museum to help collect “concentrations of airborne pollution known as particulate matter (PM)” between the Museum and the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design. When I arrived at the Museum (wearing my face mask) I was provided with all of the equipment needed to collect air samples (pictured). The activity was very simple. Community scientists wear the air sensor and walk from the Museum to the destination on the pre-printed map and back to the Museum. You can come with a walking partner, or be paired when you arrive, for accuracy and companionship. 

Devin Jefferson, the Community Science Catalyst for the Museum, wants this project to be an opportunity that focuses on community engagement and advocacy through a scientific lens, similar to the 2017 Urban Heat Island Assessment. If you are interested in becoming a citizen scientist with the Museum click here or visit smv.org/explore/rvair.

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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.

 

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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
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City of Richmond hosting three sites for annual Clean the Bay Day June 1st

Volunteers Needed for Clean the Bay Day

City of Richmond hosting three sites for annual event on June 1st

Richmond, VA (May 17, 2019) – Thousands of volunteers and dozens of partner organizations are needed from the Eastern Shore to the Shenandoah Valley to join in the major annual effort to pick up litter from Virginia waterways during Clean the Bay Day this June. RVAH2O, the James River Park System, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) will celebrate the 31st Clean the Bay Day this year on Saturday, June 1, from 9 a.m. until 12:00pm at Great Shiplock Park, Ancarrow’s Landing, and Reedy Creek. Volunteers can now register online for all site locations.  RVAH2O will be hosting volunteers at the Great Shiplock Park location.

“We are proud to be joining so many dedicated volunteers and hosting a site for Clean the Bay Day.  Our involvement speaks to our dedication to bring cleaner water faster to Richmond and its citizens through our RVAH2O initiative,” said City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities Director Calvin Farr

Last year, more than 6,000 volunteers on foot and in boats participated in Clean the Bay Day, removing about 130,000 pounds of litter and debris along well over 300 miles of shoreline.

There are many cleanup locations across Virginia, including on the Eastern Shore, in Hampton Roads, Northern and Central Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley, at many state parks, and other sites in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Early registration is advised. To register at a site near you, visit www.cbf.org/clean. Registering online for a cleanup at one of the participating state parks gets you free entry to the park the day of the event.

CBF is also seeking partner organizations to organize cleanups at new locations across Virginia. Businesses, nonprofits, civic groups, and churches can help launch a new cleanup site and create a real benefit for their community and the environment. For more information contact Karen Jacklich at kjacklich@cbf.org or (757) 644-4117.

Major corporate sponsors for Clean the Bay Day include the REI Co-op and River Network/Anheuser Busch, with additional support from Allegra Marketing Print Mail/Image 360, Chesapeake Bay Roasting Co., Pender & Coward, P.C., and Port of Virginia.

About RVAH2O

RVAH2O (http://www.rvah2o.org/) is a public education initiative dedicated to integrating wastewater, stormwater and the combined sewer system under one watershed management program as a means of achieving cleaner water faster for Richmond residents. We’ve developed an innovative partnership between city government and passionate citizens, and we’re making progress every day to reduce pollution, decrease flooding, and keep Richmond’s waters fishable and swimmable.

Follow RVAH2O on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Business Unit

Earth Day at Henderson Middle: Turning Waste Into Something You Can Taste

Henderson 1In celebration of Earth Day, the City of Richmond’s Sustainability Office paid a visit to Henderson Middle School to talk about climate change. On April 23, 2019, a class of seventh-graders learned about RVAgreen 2050, the City’s integrated adaptation, mitigation and equity-centered climate action planning initiative to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 and help the community adapt to Richmond’s climate impacts, and how our daily actions can either have a positive or negative impact on the environment. 

The conversation with students focused on how they can play a small, yet important role in helping the city reach its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals by reducing waste and conserving water. Students were introduced to the concept of composting food and yard waste at home and at school to reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfills. They also learned how to use rain barrels to conserve water and reduce water pollution. 

The class received a compost bin and rain barrel that students decorated with environmental messages and images. To bring the climate conversation full-circle, students were also gifted pencils with tomato seeds at the base instead of erasers, which can be planted after use in the school's community garden and fertilized with the compost collected in their new bin.
 

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