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January 25, 2011

Workshop to identify public-private strategies for “green” energy

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DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
 
Charlottesville, Albemarle and the University of Virginia are gearing up for a public workshop Wednesday that will focus on the community’s energy future, specifically “green” energy, carbon emission reductions and preparing for global climate change.

Local leaders, from government, environmental groups and the business community, plan to work together to develop a climate action plan. They say achieving local greenhouse gas emission reduction goals is going to require many changes in behavior.

Kristel Riddervold is environmental administrator for the city.

“This is about energy and the ways in which we can improve the health, the efficiency, the cost savings and in the long term, the community’s ability to adapt and change and be prepared for both expected and unexpected influences,” Riddervold said.

The public is invited to participate in the workshop, titled “Carbon, Our Energy Future, and You,” which is being held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Lane Auditorium at the Albemarle County Office Building.

“This is a way for us to ultimately check the pulse of our community,” Riddervold said. “We want to know who is interested, their questions, and how we can productively move forward.”

Featured speakers will include Andrea Larson, from the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, and William A. Edgerton, a local architect, philanthropist and former member of the Albemarle Planning Commission.

“[Larson] will bring a very, very insightful presentation about the business of sustainability and the business of efficiency and how that can really help the community grow and prosper,” Riddervold said.

Timothy Hulbert, president of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, is a member of the Local Climate Action Planning Process steering committee, the group holding the workshop.

“Efficiency is a critically important business value,” Hulbert said. “We have been pretty steadfast that the way to do this is to point out the economic advantages, and to the extent possible use incentives and partnerships, as opposed to the hammer of regulation.”

Local governments in both Charlottesville and Albemarle made public commitments when they signed on to national climate change declarations. Charlottesville signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in July 2006 and Albemarle signed the U.S. Cool Counties Stabilization Declaration in December 2007.

As a “Cool County,” Albemarle has set a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, an average annual reduction of 2 percent. The steering committee is focused on engaging the public to identify specific strategies for achieving these goals in the public and private sector.

“In order to [reach these goals], we need to be talking about thousands of homes that need to be more efficient, about thousands of acres of mature healthy forest, because of the import role that green space and landscapes play,” Riddervold said. “We are in a really good place to start thinking proactively as a community about what we could do. Let’s not wait 10 years until the problem gets bigger.”

More information about the initiative and the workshop is available online at www.charlottesville.org/agreencity.

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