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Katurah Roell, from the Piedmont Development Group, was given the go-ahead for his company’s plans to renovate the Pantops Med Express building. The plan includes a green screen, essentially a vertical plant trellis, which will improve the building’s facade.
Albemarle County Architectural Review Board
However, this addition to the Med Express building caused ARB members to discuss the possible need for more regulations concerning green screens. Members noted that other green screens on buildings in the Barracks Road Shopping Center have not been successful.
“My fear is we get these green screens on all these things in places — for example, on Barracks Road — and there are some places that look great and there are other walls that seemingly never get covered,” said board member Paul Wright.
Board Chairman Fred Missel said that perhaps the lattices themselves should be regulated in the future, in case plants do not thrive and cover them in a reasonable amount of time.
“We’re probably going to see a lot of green screens because it seems to be the Stonefield approach to mitigating blank walls,” Missel said, referring to an approach being used on the new Trader Joe’s grocery store. “As we entertain more and more of these green screen ideas, we may want to consider what the green screen looks like without the plants, just in case.”
The many benefits of green roofing systems were the topic of the presentation at the James River Green Building Council’s luncheon on Tuesday.
Scott Titanish, the LiveRoof area manager at Riverbend Nursery, a green roofing company, detailed how green roofs can counteract some of the negative impacts of urbanization like the urban heat island effect and stormwater management problems.
The green roof on Charlottesville City Hall as viewed from the McIntire Street Parking Garage
“Is green roofing going to stop all this? No, but it is a great way to help mitigate,” Titanish said.
LiveRoof, which is locally distributed by Riverbend, is no stranger to the Charlottesville area despite its Riner location. It has installed green roofs on the SNL Financial building in downtown Charlottesville, UVa’s biomedical engineering and medical science building and private residences throughout the area.
Local government buildings in Albemarle County and the city are no strangers to green roofs either. The city of Charlottesville added a green roof to City Hall and the police annex in 2008. The city’s website states that the vegetation covers 9,250 square feet of roof and features 18,540 plants distributed across its surface.
The Albemarle County Office Building on McIntire Road also had a green roof installed on it in July 2005. Gregor Patsch, water resources engineer for Albemarle, said that the roof frequently attracts students from UVa who want to see one first-hand.
“People seem to think it’s cool and they’re interested in it,” Patsch said. “I take quite a few visitors up there every year and there’s a group of local students in a class at UVa that come every year.”
By Brian Wheeler Charlottesville Tomorrow Thursday, April 26, 2012
The Tom Tom Founders Festival continued its series of weekly innovation talks Wednesday with a panel discussion examining Charlottesville-based entrepreneurs working in the field of sustainability and sustainable design.
“My interest was to bring a conversation around innovation to Charlottesville,” said Tom Tom co-founder Oliver Platts-Mills. “It is stylized after SXSW in Austin.”
Pam Haley, a former NASA engineer from the Tidewater area, said she came to the event because she has long been interested in innovation.
“I also came last week and was thrilled to see what’s going on in this community.,” said Haley. “This is why I left Tidewater.”
Haley, a nine-month resident of Charlottesville, added that before the Tom Tom festival, she had been reluctant to move her furniture into her new home.
“Last week was the first time I felt like I might be in the right place,” Haley said.
01:02:15 -- Ann Jurczyk, Virginia Outreach and Advocacy Manager for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Presentation
By Brian Wheeler Charlottesville Tomorrow Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The James River Green Building Council is thinking globally and acting locally. It held its first annual “state of the world” luncheon Tuesday with a focus on environmental initiatives in the Charlottesville-Albemarle County area.
Four speakers made presentations about local planning, energy conservation and the health of the Chesapeake Bay. These experts said a variety of local initiatives were aimed at addressing major environmental challenges facing the community, the region, and the planet.
“It’s important to know where we are, in order to plan for where we are going,” said Ben Hicks, co-chair of JRGBC’s program committee. “Part of the mission of the JRGBC is to promote and inspire the transformation to a sustainable built environment.”
The council’s monthly luncheons attract building owners, building professionals and product manufacturers representing a variety of specialties.
“It’s important for these folks to get a big picture every once in a while,” Hicks added. “A lot of these folks in their offices are working on one particular thing, and to see everything come together and understand where the community is now, we can know how to improve it.”
Burbage said one of the key grant products, a performance measurement system, was under development and still receiving public feedback. She said it will allow the community to benchmark its performance on 67 different indicators.
“This system was actually developed by a group of graduate students from the University of Virginia in the Urban and Environmental Planning Program,” Burbage said. “They did research on other communities that are tracking sustainability and looked at the things communities evaluate.”
Burbage said six system areas were identified: natural resources; housing; transportation; neighborhoods; economy; and infrastructure. Indicators and metrics were identified within each area.
“Every single indicator is linked to goals that are in both the city and county comprehensive plans,” Burbage added.
Andy Lowe, Albemarle’s environmental compliance manager, described efforts by local government to manage energy usage. He said the short-term goal was to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent from a 2005 baseline by next year.
“To date, with our July  bills, our overall reduction is 23.5 percent,” Lowe said. “The combined electrical usage for our three main facilities…[saw] about a 1 million kilowatt reduction, thus avoiding costs of about $75,000, so the results are definitely coming.”
Lowe acknowledged that the city and county government operations produced a mere 4 percent of local greenhouse gas emissions. Overall community emissions have been targeted by both the Albemarle Supervisors and Charlottesville City Council to be reduced by 80% by the year 2050 to mitigate human impacts on global warming.
The Local Energy Alliance Program is a nonprofit organization working to retrofit residential and commercial buildings with energy efficient technologies.
“Buildings account for 54 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from our local community,” said LEAP director Cynthia Adams. “If you are looking at this from a climate lens, that’s the important take away with respect to energy efficiency.”
“Thus far we have over 300 homeowners that have signed up to participate in our program, 255 of which have either completed their retrofit or are in process,” Adams said.
Ann Jurczyk, an advocacy manager for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, told the audience that the Chesapeake Bay’s health was improving slightly, but that it still didn’t have a passing grade.
“Agriculture has done a pretty good job of reducing nitrogen and phosphorous,” said Jurczyk. “Where we’ve got a serious problem still is in storm water. …With a low impact design, everything that you do on the land ultimately can have a positive impact on the bay.”
By Jason Ha Charlottesville Tomorrow Friday, May 13, 2011
The James River Green Building Council hosted a forum Tuesday and invited three local real estate developers to talk about sustainability in terms of environmentally friendly, or “green,” design and construction practices.
Chris Schooley, former development director at Stonehaus
Jim Stultz, the owner of CBS Rentals, said his company provides housing annually to over 1,200 University students. Stultz described an apartment building his company is about to complete between 14th and 15th streets near the Corner.
“We try to look at the student market and determine what they want to rent, what they’ll pay for and what amenities they really think that they need and have to have,” said Stultz.
“If we can develop this product and really learn about the green technology, not only will we be a leader in our market, but we’ll also be able to pick and choose what really works when we go an rehab our other 11 buildings.”
By conducting a survey regularly with students to better accommodate their housing priorities, he found out that what most students want a building that is green and fashionable.
Bundoran Farm is a 2,300-acre conservation community in Albemarle where 90 percent of its land remains an undeveloped, protected landscape. Joe Barnes, Director of Architecture and Design of Celebration Associates, said Bundoran represented a “market-driven approach to rural land preservation.”
“Unfortunately we are developing a lot of our rural areas in what would be considered to be an unsustainable manner,” Barnes said. “We are losing productive farmland, we are destroying the visual character of our rural landscapes, and then all the environmental aspects that go with that-- with watersheds and in addition the viewsheds.”
Joe Barnes of Celebration Associates
Barnes said his team asked, “Is there a solution out there that allows farmers to maximize the value of their land assets, protect the productive agricultural area, preserve the beauty of the character of the land, encourage the ongoing stewardship of the land?”
“Our primary goal was to preserve rural character, not only the character of land, but also the use of the land,” said Barnes. At Bundoran, the 108 home sites are situated in the “seams” between the farm fields and forests and have shared easements that allow for continued operation of the farm, protection of greenways and other preservation tracts.
Chris Schooley, the former development director at Stonehaus, discussed the design philosophy behind the Belvedere neighborhood located off Rio Road in Albemarle’s urban area. Belvedere was approved in October 2004.
Schooley said the development team sought at Belvedere to “activate the street and create a social organism.” In doing so, Schooley listed three core fundamental values of Belvedere: a healthy living component, sustainability, and a sense of neighborhood.
With the first phase of Belvedere 70% complete, Schooley said the neighborhood has “started to reach a density that makes the vision start to be something tangible.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Joseph Barnes is a member of the Charlottesville Tomorrow Board of Directors.
By Sean Tubbs Charlottesville Tomorrow Thursday, May 5, 2011
A member of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors has called for the county to rescind its membership in a U.N.-backed global organization that advises cities and counties on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“We are being infiltrated in local government by an agenda that is set by this international organization,” said Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd. “I think it is time that we as a government took back that control.”
Boyd made a motion Wednesday for the county to cut ties with a group formerly known as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, or ICLEI. Over 1,220 local governments have joined the group, including the city of Charlottesville, which in 2003 changed its name to ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability.
Albemarle joined the organization shortly after adopting the Cool Counties initiative in December 2007. That action set a non-binding goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. ICLEI provides its members with software that compiles data so progress towards the goals can be tracked.
Boyd’s motion called for the county to end its participation in the initiative, which has also been adopted by Arlington and Fairfax counties.
“Cool Counties is the real problem here,” Boyd said. “It’s now becoming evident that this initiative was just an extension of the United Nations initiative Agenda 21 which is administered by [ICLEI].”
The motion was seconded by Supervisor Rodney S. Thomas, but Supervisor Dennis Rooker said the initiative was a voluntary effort by the county to encourage the community to reduce carbon emissions.
“In my mind, that’s a good thing,” Rooker said. “This whole thing about international control and one government is in my mind completely ridiculous.”
Rooker pointed out that he has never received a phone call or a letter from anyone from ICLEI lobbying for a particular vote.
Boyd responded by saying ICLEI representatives have been present at conferences attended by staff.
Supervisors Rodney Thomas and Ken Boyd
“My concern now is that this is the camel’s nose under the tent,” Boyd said. “It’s even beyond that. I think it’s now a cancer that is infiltrating our local government here.”
At a budget work session in March, Boyd sought to eliminate the $1,200 line item representing the annual cost of the ICLEI membership. As the only supervisor who was strongly opposed at the time, the funding was ultimately retained in the FY 2012 budget.
Gil Meneses, communications director for ICLEI’s United States branch, said his group does not lobby any of its members.
“We support their local initiatives to become more energy efficient, which saves local governments energy costs and money,” Meneses said in an email.
Meneses added that ICLEI has nothing to do with the Cool Counties initiatives, though many of its members have signed on.
“Albemarle County has been planning for fiscally and environmentally responsible ways to manage its growth [in] its comprehensive plans as far back as the 1970s,” Butler said. He pointed to the decision to set aside designated growth areas as well as the downzoning of rural land to discourage development.
Boyd withdrew his motion after Rooker asked for it to be placed on a future agenda so staff could answer questions about whether they’ve been influenced by ICLEI. County Executive Thomas Foley said a work session would be scheduled for June.
“If staff wants to bring things to us that they think are wrong or legal changes that need to be made, that’s fine,” Boyd said. “But any other changes we make to our comprehensive plan should come from this board, and not from the TJPDC.”
At recent meetings, the board has received regular criticism of the ICLEI membership from Jefferson Area Tea Party member Charles Battig. Battig also has called on the public to question the role of TJPDC in the county’s planning efforts.
“This unelected organization has stated its intention to apply its own version of sustainability benchmarks against all activities of the public, and have its vision of citizen behavioral change and social justice objectives codified in the County Comprehensive Plan,” Battig wrote in a statement provided to Charlottesville Tomorrow.
“We have nothing to do with ICLEI or Cool Counties,” said Steven Williams, the executive director of the TJPDC. “I don’t even know where the idea came from that we were related to them.”
Williams said Albemarle taxpayers would benefit from the county’s participation in the grant.
“This grant is bringing resources to Albemarle County for their comprehensive plan update that would not have been available otherwise, at no cost to the county,” Williams said. “They’re getting $122,000 in staff work without spending a dime.”
Williams added that the Board of Supervisors has the ultimate authority to approve the comprehensive plan.
By 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.
“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.
“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.”
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.”
This article is an extended version of what appears in today's
By Bridgett Lynn Charlottesville Tomorrow Thursday, July 8, 2010
An organization created to encourage residential energy efficiency has launched a contest to get residents retrofitting their homes and installing renewable technologies. Local leaders say the benefits will include reduced energy costs and the creation of new jobs.
“The Home Energy Makeover Contest is an initiative that will help…to educate local homeowners about the importance of energy efficiency,” said Cynthia Adams, executive director of the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP).
Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris
“Through energy efficiency, LEAP will stimulate our local economy and generate clean energy jobs which fosters energy independence and makes maintaining our homes more affordable,” said Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris. “We are a lucky community indeed, nowhere else in Virginia does an energy alliance like LEAP exist.”
Adams announced on Wednesday that the organization will award up to $10,000 in energy efficiency improvements to two residents living in either Charlottesville or Albemarle as part of a Home Energy Makeover Contest.
Eight runners up will receive free professional home performance assessments worth up to $600 conducted by certified local contractors.
Homeowners Wendy Roberman and Ted Millich had their house audited with LEAP and received suggestions to add insulation, switch out appliances, add a new furnace and windows, and some additional ventilation.
“We were able to quickly narrow down who we wanted to do the work, and we were very satisfied with that work,” said Roberman. “I would recommend people get an audit even if you think you know what you need to do.”
Home Performance with Energy Star program benefits
Prices for a home energy audit are running anywhere from $300 to $600 depending on size of home and number of gas fired appliances located in the home according to Adams.
“The end result of this should be a twenty percent or better efficiency gain for your home and …Energy Star certification,” said Adams.
In coming months, LEAP will launch its Home Performance with Energy Star program. Homeowners will get professional guidance on their energy retrofits and certification that the home has implemented energy conservation measures projected to increase its efficiency by 20 percent or more.
“We prequalify contractors to participate…and we also go behind them on a percentage of their jobs [to] test out [and] check the work [to] make sure that it was done correctly and that all of the diagnostic readings are being reported as they should be,” said Adams.
“By going through a prescribed process to identify energy efficiency issues and remedy them using a whole house a approach, owners of existing homes can benefit from the latest in building science too,” said Laura Fiori, president of Key Green Energy Solutions, a LEAP partner.
“Our primary hope in participating in a LEAP program is to create job growth,” said James Sullenberger of Weather Seal Insulation. “Like many local companies, we have been forced to make major changes in an effort to survive and remain competitive in this ever changing market.”
“They put together an energy sense lending program [called Green $ense Lending] that is available exclusively through LEAP that has better rates and longer terms than one can get on a personal loan,” said Adams.
Green $ense Lending products can be paired with LEAP cash incentives, federal energy tax credits and the Commonwealth of Virginia energy rebates to make home energy improvements more economical for area residents.
Winners of the contest are selected through an application review process based on homes that use the most electricity and natural gas, which translates to homes that have the potential to save the most energy.
The contest will be open from July 1 to August 20, and the winners will be announced by September 12. Applications can be found at the website www.cvillesaves.org.
(Left to right) Delegate David Toscano, Christopher Miller of the PEC, and Congressman Tom Perriello
“The cheapest energy is the energy you don’t have to buy in the first place because you don’t use it,” said Representative Tom Perriello (D-Ivy) at a press conference held Thursday to officially launch the guide.
Over the past five years, the PEC has been fighting proposals to build new high-voltage power transmission lines in West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia. The new energy conservation program is one way the PEC hopes to reduce consumer demand for electricity and lessen the need for new power infrastructure, projects it says can damage the environment.
This guide recommends ten individual steps that each home and business owner can take to lower energy bills, ranging from installing compact fluorescent light bulbs to making sure attics are properly insulated.
Other steps include insulating hot water heaters, plugging electronics into power-strips and routinely changing air filters.
“The objective is to provide local residents with the full information they need all in one place to be able to help them save energy and save money on their energy bills,” said Scott Elliff. Elliff, a PEC board member, is a resident of Forest Lakes in Albemarle County who brought the idea for the booklet and instructional videos to the PEC last year.
The result is a website with video instructions of how to perform each of the ten steps, featuring local builder Doug Lowe of Artisan Construction. Elliff said all of the recommended steps would cost under $500, but would save the average home $375 every year in lower energy costs.
Site visitors who fill out a survey are eligible to receive a 10% discount on supplies at participating home improvement stores. Congressman Perriello said he anticipates a boost in the local economy as homeowners head to hardware stores for supplies.
Christopher Miller, president of the PEC, said he recently switched to compact fluorescent bulbs and reduced his household electricity consumption by 40%.
“If 10% of the 70,000 people do it, it’s going to make a significant difference in the net energy use in the state of Virginia,” Miller said. The eventual goal is to deliver the guide to every household in Virginia.
The program is not the only local initiative designed to help homeowners make their structures more energy efficient. The city and county recently received a $500,000 grant from the Southeastern Energy Alliance to create the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) to help homeowners finance major projects.
“We’re not trying to recreate what LEAP is doing, which is targeting people who need assistance to implement retrofits,” Miller said.
Cynthia Adams, Charlottesville’s climate protection programs coordinator, is leading the LEAP program as it transitions from concept to reality. She said the two programs fit well together, but LEAP is designed for much more ambitious projects.
“A person would go to LEAP if they had cold and drafty rooms,” Adams said. “Seventy to 80% of homes all have an issue with air sealing.”
LEAP will help homeowners pay for major retrofits through a combination of federal tax incentives and low-cost financing. Participants will also be connected with contractors who are certified to do the work.
For instance, if all of home’s air holes are sealed, caution must be taken to make sure dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide can be ventilated.
The program is currently working with several dozen homeowners on a test basis, but will officially launch later this year.
According to one local energy auditor, there is a place for both LEAP and the PEC’s Energy Smart Solutions guide.
“There are more draughts just coming through your walls, coming through electrical penetrations, and that’s something everyone can do with caulk and form,” said Andrew Grigsby of Culpeper-based Commonwealth Sustainability Works. He added that only one in 40 of the homes he audits has an adequate amount of insulation in the attic.
“It’s cheap, it’s easy and every house needs it,” Grigsby said. “Most people think their houses function normally, and they don’t. That’s what I see.”
TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:
01:00 - Opening comments from Christopher Miller, President of the PEC 01:20 - Comments from Tony Vanderwarker, Chair of the PEC Board 02:45 - Comments from Scott Elliff 08:00 - Comments from Mayor Dave Norris 11:30 - Comments from Delegate David Toscano 14:30 - Comments from Representative Tom Perriello 19:00 - Brief clip from one of the videos
By Connie Chang Charlottesville Tomorrow Monday, November 9, 2009
Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors are one step closer to launching a collaborative initiative called the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP). Both entities passed a memorandum of understanding last week that will allow the City and County to direct grant funds to a non-profit operating company to carry out their goals.
In June 2009, the City and County won a $500,000 grant from the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA), whose main purpose was to establish a community-based energy alliance that would coordinate and provide energy-efficiency related services to residential and commercial property owners of all income levels. LEAP would also provide loans to homeowners to assist in covering the cost of energy-saving improvements.
LEAP Concept of Operations (Source: SEEA grant application)
The City and County’s joint proposal to develop LEAP set a goal of a 20-40% efficiency gain in 30-50% of structures within seven years. Because the City and County do not have the legal authority to accept the grant directly, staff has been exploring the legal ramifications and limitations with respect to forming a new non-profit.
With the assistance of outside legal counsel, staff drafted a memorandum of understanding that establishes that SEEA will redirect the grant to a local operating company and that SEEA will agree to perform all due diligence to ensure that the local operating company meets the criteria enumerated in the proposed MOU. City and County staff have involved various stakeholders in the process of developing the LEAP program, including UVA, PVCC, Dominion Power, and SEEA.
The LEAP program is currently comprised of a three-member Board of Directors, which is expected to expand to include other community stakeholders, such as a representative from the state energy office and local elected officials.
LEAP is currently in the process of filing articles of incorporation with the Virginia State Corporation Commission and in the process of filing for tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service.
With the approval of the MOU, City and County staff expect to have an operating company selected before the end of November and to launch the program as early as January 2010.
While City Councilors and County Supervisors are enthusiastic about the environmental benefits and job opportunities with the implementation of the LEAP program, the issue of funding was brought into question by Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna).
“This is just another method of creating bigger government that we do all the time,” said Boyd.
However, the Board agreed that the LEAP program will not have any budgetary impact at this time.
“This is not any undertaking to spend any dollars by Albemarle County,” said Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett). “That would be a separate decision at a future time if in fact it ever came up.”
“I look forward to supporting the initiative that brings half a million dollars of money into our community to help us facilitate the creation of a program that will result in tremendous economic benefit to a large number of County residents by making it possible for them to reduce their energy cost burdens,” said David Slutzky (Rio).
TIMELINE FOR PODCAST
01:00 – City Council meeting 02:31 – Climate protection programs coordinator Cynthia Adams presents 06:17 – Councilor Satyendra Huja asks how the City and County are involved with the new board agency 08:17 – Councilor David Brown moves approval the memorandum of understanding 08:24 – Board of Supervisors meeting 13:30 – Supervisor Ken Boyd comments that he would like to add a “whereas” to the MOU that it is a non-taxpayer funded organization 14:25 – Supervisor David Slutzky objects to addition 16:00 – Supervisor Dennis Rooker moves approval of the memorandum of understanding 18:20 – Board of Supervisors pass MOU unanimously