Viridiant and Virginia Energy Sense Partner to Raise Awareness about Home Energy Audits (NBC12 News)

Virginia Energy Sense offers tips on saving on your energy bill this winter

Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 6:15 PM EST

HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) – For many Virginians, their new year’s resolution is to save more money, but that can be difficult to do during the winter, especially when heating your home.

If you’re hesitant about touching your thermostat, Virginia Energy Sense says you can still save money on your electric bill while staying warm.

With Virginia Energy Sense, Ford Carson says some simple steps you can take are weather stripping gaps in doors, unplugging unused appliances, or switching light bulbs over to energy-efficient LED lights.

If you don’t know what else you can do, Carson recommends a home energy audit to see where the heat in your home could be escaping from.

“To see what components of your house you can make more energy-efficient and that can include anything from foam gaskets as we mentioned, to air ducts, to crawl space,” Carson said. “You’re just taking a looking room by room to see if there’s anything you can do to save the energy that you’re already pumping into your home.”

Andrew Grigsby has been crawling around homes over the last 20 years, performing home audits for the non-profit Viridiant.

“In a lot of houses, we start an audit with the attic. It’s kind of no secret cold winter’s day you need a hat on your head, same thing for a home,” Grigsby said.

Through a quick audit, Grigsby says many homes in Central Virginia run through similar energy loss issues that can be fixed for a few bucks.

“What this attic door need is some weather stripping right here so that there’s no air leakage through this opening,” Grigsby said. “This is a door to the outside; we wanna make sure it’s airtight and insulated just like your front door.”

Grigsby says some other simple steps you can take are to change your air filter once a month, make sure air ducts are not leaking, and insulate copper pipes below your home.

After an audit, Grigsby makes a list of changes a homeowner can take on at any time. Its steps Henrico homeowner Jenner Schutt says she took last year and has seen a difference in her energy bill.

“On average, I would say maybe 10 to 20 percent with the changes,” Schutt said. “I would have to do my math, but overall I can see a reduction in cost.”

If you’re interested in a home energy audit, click here.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

 

Viridiant Conducts 150th Home Energy Audit!

In October 2021, Viridiant conducted the 150th home energy audit since the creation of the Energy Services Division in April 2020! Over the last 18 months, Viridiant has installed 2,922 feet of pipe wrap insulation (that’s a little over half a mile!) and over 3,400 LED lights bulbs collectively reducing annual energy usage by 177 MWh. Throughout the pandemic, we have been helping folks reduce their monthly utility costs by an average of $142 a year. That’s a whole month’s utility bill gone!

The Bauserman family was excited to be our 150th audit and offered a few words on their experience.

What made you register for a Home Energy Audit with Viridiant? I got to the point where my list of questions regarding a green energy retrofit for our 1940s Forest Hill home was long enough that I wanted an expert to review my space and give me recommendations and feedback that were specific to our home. After looking through Viridiant’s website, I knew they would be a good resource to get this process started.

What did you enjoy most out of your Home Energy Audit? I was very impressed by the level of personalized attention Andrew gave to us and our home. He thoroughly inspected the home from top to bottom to learn as much as possible about our current energy use. He offered a wide range of options for improvement that were all very specific to us and our budget rather than “one size fits all” options. That kind of feedback on our personal space was so helpful and made the improvements much more approachable and achievable.

What are your energy goals for your home? Our goal is to maximize the potential of our home. As we fix, replace, and add we want to make sure those decisions are as ambitious and thoughtful as possible. We live in a leaky old home in the midst of trees so we recognize we have a lot of limitations for turnkey energy solutions, but we want to take care of what we have and make the most of our opportunities one step at a time.

Why do you think energy smart improvements are important? Our trajectory as a society isn’t sustainable. Our involvement needs to be immediate, and there is no better place to start than our own homes. It is such a personal space. It should reflect our ambitions and values. I have had a chance to work in the construction industry and see first hand how indifferent and careless the decision making about our homes is. We have to start pushing against current construction and energy norms and pursue new solutions that have a future.

Would you recommend Viridiant’s services? Absolutely. I already have and will continue to do so! We all need to be using and sharing resources like Viridiant.

 

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ICYMI: NREL Researchers Point Toward Energy Efficiency Instead of Long-Term Storage (NREL)

NREL Researchers Point Toward Energy Efficiency Instead of Long-Term Storage

By: NREL | Nov. 2, 2021

Link to original news release.

Incorporating energy efficiency measures can reduce the amount of storage needed to power the nation’s buildings entirely with renewable energy, according to analysis conducted by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

As more communities plan to eventually rely on 100% renewable energy, the researchers offer a strategy that could guide their paths—one that shifts away from long-duration storage.

“Minimizing long-duration storage is a key element in trying to achieve the target cost-effectively,” said Sammy Houssainy, co-author with William Livingood of a new paper that outlines an approach to 100% renewables. The research paper, “Optimal Strategies for a Cost-Effective and Reliable 100% Renewable Electrical Grid,” appears in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

The researchers considered solar and wind as the source of renewable energy, given that most plans for meeting the 100% target take those into account. They also used the Department of Energy’s EnergyPlus and OpenStudio building energy modeling tools to simulate energy demand, considering such factors as building size, age, and occupancy type. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration informed the scientists about the existing building stock characteristics and energy load used by the buildings.

Further, the researchers separated the country into five climate zones, ranging from the hot and humid (Tampa, Florida) to the very cold (International Falls, Minnesota). The other zones encompassed the cities of New York, El Paso, and Denver. Knowing the extremes of heating and cooling demands in each zone enabled the researchers to select the appropriate mix of renewable power sources to minimize any needed storage.

While varying definitions exist in the literature, for purposes of this study the researchers define long-duration storage as energy storage systems that meet electricity demands for more than 48-hour durations. Therefore, long-duration energy storage provides power days or months after the electricity is generated. However, most long-duration storage technologies are either immature or not available everywhere. The two NREL researchers calculated reaching the last 75% to 100% of renewable energy would result in significant increases in costs associated with long-duration energy storage. Instead of focusing on storage, the researchers emphasized the optimal mix of renewable resources, oversized generation capacities, and investments in energy efficiency. The researchers note that multiple pathways exist to reach 100% renewable and, as the costs and performance of technologies change, new pathways will emerge, but they identified a key pathway that is achievable today.

They also determined that oversizing renewable capacities by a factor of 1.4 to 3.2 and aiming for 52% to 68% in energy savings through building energy-efficiency measures lead to cost-optimal paths depending on region of the country. Houssainy said making homes and offices more energy efficient reduces the amounts of renewable resources needed, decreases the amount of storage, and cuts transmission costs, ultimately supporting the implementation of a carbon-free energy system.

“What’s included in the paper is really a multistep process to follow,” Livingood said. “That process is applicable to large cities, as well small cities. Now, the end result will change, city to city, as this multistep process is followed to cost-optimally achieve the target.”

For example, Tampa would generate all of its electricity from solar panels, while International Falls would receive 100% from wind turbines, the researchers calculated, in order to have the least reliance on storage.

“It is not intended to replace the need for site-specific, detailed engineering design and planning processes for buildings, electric grid, and energy infrastructure,” Livingood said, “but we believe that our novel calculation methodology yields overarching concepts and conclusions that are broadly relevant and applicable. For cost-effectively achieving 100% renewable scenarios, our newly developed calculation methodology provides general principles that help guide these detailed engineering design and planning processes.”

DOE’s Building Technologies Office funded the research, under the advisement of Andrew Burr (formerly DOE).

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC.

[Source]

Improvements to Energy Costs, Air Quality, and Comfort for Energy Efficiency Day

Improvements to Energy Costs, Air Quality, and Comfort for Energy Efficiency Day

Author: Andrew Grigsby, Viridiant Energy Services Director

Caption: Disconnected ductwork in a crawlspace

It’s national energy efficiency day! And when home energy pros get together, we often swap stories about some of the red flags and problem areas we see out in the field. Ultimately, we’re talking about opportunity. We see so many places where folks can make big improvements to energy costs, air quality, and comfort – often at pretty low prices. We’re proud to find these things because we like helping people. When we find problems, we’ve delivered. We’ve alerted our clients to an opportunity to live better.

It kind of feels like having the cure for the common cold. We have something great we want to share. Homes can be fixed! Costs can be reduced! And this work is proof that addressing a key cause of climate change isn’t a sacrifice, it’s an improvement.

Caption: Sometimes ineffective attic insulation is made visible by uneven snow melt patterns

As home energy auditors, we bring years of training and expertise from looking at many hundreds of homes. But we have to meet residents where they are. Every family has particular needs and conditions, goals for their home, and beliefs about what solutions work. We bring humility and science, a listening ear and a willingness to inspect from peak to foundation. To achieve results, it’s not enough just to point out an opportunity. We want to empower folks and inspire action. Our hope is that the information we provide motivates our clients to take on the drivers of waste, discomfort, and dirt air waste: do those no-cost improvements now, set aside a weekend for the $40 projects, and think about a long-term route to net-zero energy.

Studies have long shown that the cheapest way for the US to meet its energy needs is to make our existing buildings (and new buildings) more efficient. The cheapest KWH is the one we don’t use.

Source: https://www.aceee.org/blog/2017/12/new-data-same-results-saving-energy

Those data points are a few years old, so the next table shows more recent data on generation (showing how solar and wind are now the cheapest resources). Note that a $30 MWH is the same as a 3 cent KWH.

Source: https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf

In other words, it’s cheaper to save energy than to make new energy. No source of generation  is less than 2 cents per KWH. Plus, that efficiency gain has so many other benefits: 24/7 service, reduced line losses from transmission/distribution, and resiliency. Of course we need generation too, but we are a long long way from utilizing all available efficiency opportunities. .

Energy efficiency really is something to celebrate, to learn more about, to invest in. Every home can benefit.

We often get asked about the best new technologies for boosting the efficiency of homes. Some of the smart home innovations allow for remote and timed operation of equipment, but generally I find that only the most highly-engaged user will see meaningful energy savings from those.

Really the best new products are the latest versions of familiar products:

  • Today’s heat pumps are far and away the best HVAC solution for our climate (and points far to the north). No question. Give us a call if you’re updating equipment and need advice.
  • An ENERGY STAR-rated ceiling fan can vary from 47 cfm/watt 444 cfm/watt. That’s a 10-fold difference – but both fans have the same ENERGY STAR label. This principle applies to all appliances: washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, etc. Shop carefully! Read the fine print!
  • I’ll make a plug for electric cars here too. They convert BTUs of energy into rolling your wheels 3 to 5 times more efficiently than gasoline-powered vehicles.

Another old technology that is always improving is design – the home and rooms of course, but also mechanical systems like ductwork and hot water. Could you design away that long, wasteful wait for hot water in your bathroom? And finally there’s the process of construction or installation. In the end it’s the level of care and expertise shown by the craftsperson that always becomes the most important factor.

If you want learn more about how the best energy efficiency practices and tools can help your home (and your wallet), get a professional home energy audit. We offer this service in the Richmond region for as little as $45. If you’re out of our range, there are qualified building scientists across Virginia whom we’re happy to direct you to. And many homes qualify for free upgrades from local weatherization providers via federal, state, and utility-managed programs. It’s always a good time to start saving money and be more comfortable.

Thanks for reading. And happy energy efficiency day!

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Award Finalists Honored at the 2021 Building Sustainability Conference & Awards

On September 29th, leaders in the advancement of sustainable design and high performance construction were honored at Viridiant’s Virtual Building Sustainability Conference & Awards.

Prior to the Awards Ceremony, Viridiant hosted special guest speakers for the “Buildings: The Foundation of an Energy Efficient Future” panel discussion. Attendees heard from:

  • Dan Farrell, Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development
  • Chris Thompson, Virginia Housing
  • Maggie Kelley Riggins, Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance
  • Dr. Phillip Agee, Virginia Center for Housing Research
  • Moderated by: Sarah Jones-Anderson, Greystone Affordable Development

Awards were presented to recognize the region’s leaders in high-performance construction with a focus on projects, programs, and initiatives that represent the future of sustainable building. Nominees and winners were honored in a variety of categories based on work completed in the last three years in the Mid-Atlantic region. Each winner receives a FSC-certified wooden award plaque from Rivanna Natural Designs, a local business offering planet-friendly alternatives to traditional trophies and plaques.

Award winners include:

Project or Development – Single Family

Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley

After sitting vacant and boarded up, this Habitat for Humanity home at 2227 Melrose Ave was brought back to life by Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley. The full gut renovation included expansion into the attic to convert the home into a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath home and the removal lead paint and an old oil tank. Some energy efficient features include air sealing the building envelope with open-cell insulation, new mechanicals and an ERV. Being 100% committed to EarthCraft certification, Habitat for Humanity in Roanoke provides homeownership to the community with careful consideration of family needs and building science to ensure healthy, affordable housing opportunities for many years to come.

Project or Development – Multifamily New Construction

AHC, Inc. – The Apex

The Apex development, located in Arlington VA is a two phased project being developed by AHC, Inc. The project contains 256 total units between the two phases and has achieved EarthCraft Gold certification. In addition to advanced lighting, efficient appliances, and distribution systems, the project achieved an average of 3.5 ACH50 for envelope testing across all sampled units and an impressive HERS Index of 52, or 48% better than a standard code built building. This level of efficiency benefits the environment, surrounding community, and most importantly, affords low- and moderate-income tenants the ability to live without being burdened by large swings in utility bills season to season. Nearby amenities and useful public transportation resources make the Apex one of the most desirable locations in Arlington.

Project or Development – Renovation

Virginia Supportive Housing – New Clay House II

New Clay House II is an EarthCraft Gold project located in Richmond. Developed and owned by Virginia Supportive Housing, achieving a high level of energy efficiency contributes to the long-term financial health of the project. Solar PV and solar thermal were utilized, as well as a high efficiency VRF system. Resource conservation was woven throughout the project. Existing historic structures were preserved and new construction added to form a single building. Efficient framing methods were used to reduce lumber needs while improving insulation levels. Xeriscaping and minimal turf reduces the ongoing water needs of the landscaping. Its central location provides residents with walkable access to retail and grocery options, green space, and bus routes, plus easy access to bike lanes coupled with onsite bike storage.

 

Builder or Developer

Lawson

Lawson has a long history as a leader in the development and construction industry. Lawson brings development, construction, and Operations under one roof, allowing for fluid, fast decision making and lasting value to both their tenants and communities. Lawson has played a large role in the development and implementation of Norfolk’s green building policy development and have long seen the value of including healthy, efficient components into their developments. Lawson is committed to green building and will certify 100% of its future projects. Seaside Harbor, a recently certified development in Virginia Beach, was built in partnership with the non-profit seller, Samaritan House and provides ongoing income opportunities to this local non-profit organization to provide emergency and permanent housing, support, and outreach to victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and homelessness

 

Habitat for Humanity Affiliate

Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley

Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley completed their first EarthCraft certified community in 2020. The 7 certified townhomes were a result of a partnership with the Town of Blacksburg, Virginia Housing, and the HOME Consortium, as well as many industry partners. Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley has been steadily working to increase their impact, doubling their construction team between 2018-2021 and tripling their output. They are committed to gender equality in the construction industry, demonstrated through women making up 50% of their construction staff.

 

Top High-Performance EarthCraft Home

Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia

6848 Donora Drive, constructed by Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia, achieved EarthCraft Gold and ENERGY STAR certification. It achieved the lowest HERS index across EarthCraft certified homes in 2020, with a 42. The 3 bedroom homes used excellent windows, continuous insulation, R-19 wall insulation, and R-49 attic insulation and combined that with excellent air sealing to create a building envelope that performs significantly better than a code built home and exceeds the requirements for EarthCraft certification. A high efficiency HVAC system, LED lights, and WaterSense fixtures all add to the efficiency of the home. Additionally, a modest PV system was added to the home to further decrease utility costs for the homeowner.

 

Project, Program, or Initiative

Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development – Virginia Energy Code Update Process and Implementation

The Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development promulgates Virginia’s building and fire codes through a collaborative and open process, provides critical energy code training and certification for the code enforcement community, partners with communities to develop their economic potential and invests more than $100 million each year into housing and community development projects through the state, the majority of which are designed to help low- to moderate-income residents. DHCD’s partnerships and grant funding support with and for Viridiant, have resulted in valuable resources to improve implementation of energy codes, increase energy code compliance, and ultimately increase energy conservation across the state.

 

Visionary

Ms. Marilyn Taylor

Marilyn Taylor has lived in her eastern Henrico home more than twenty years when her summer electric bill suddenly doubled to more than $500 and the dining room became unusually humid. Several contractors visited her home to investigate but had no solutions.

Viridiant staff conducted our standard walk-through audit of the 1937 home, from the attic to the crawlspace, inspecting equipment and building details as we went. The crawlspace was unusually warm and damp, even on a hot August day, and after some searching, we discovered a significant leak in the hot water pipes running under the dining room. Because Ms Taylor’s water bill only comes every other month, she hadn’t yet received a bill that would alert her to a water problem.

A plumber came and fixed the leak within a few days, solving the urgent issue. During our audit, we also replaced 42 lightbulbs with LEDs. Based on 2 hours/day usage, those save her $175/year going forward. And her custom energy audit report included a prioritized list of additional efficiency, durability, and comfort improvements. Her first big investment was replacing the original windows.

Every year, Viridiant presents the Visionary Award to an organization or individual who has shown outstanding commitment to sustainable homes, buildings, or communities. Ms Taylor has shown how one family can make a real difference, one home at a time. Her initiative led to reduced energy use, better indoor air quality, and durability improvements to extend the life of a near 100-year-old house. She provides an example for others to avoid saying “it’s just an old house” and instead to invest smartly in sustainability improvements that pay off in so many ways.

 

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Special thanks to our 2021 event sponsors!

Viridiant’s Building Sustainability Conference & Awards Event Details

Viridiant’s Building Sustainability Conference & Awards Event Details

Join Viridiant on Wednesday, September 29th for the free, virtual Building Sustainability Conference & Awards! The event will kick-off at 10:00am on Wednesday, September 29th with the panel discussion “Buildings: The Foundation of an Energy Efficient Future” followed by the 12th annual awards ceremony. You won’t want to miss this live, virtually connected experience!

10:00-11:15AM – WELCOME AND PANEL DISCUSSION WITH GUEST SPEAKERS

“Buildings: The Foundation of an Energy Efficient Future”
  • Dan Farrell, Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development
  • Chris Thompson, Virginia Housing
  • Maggie Kelley Riggins, Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance
  • Dr. Phillip Agee, Virginia Center for Housing Research
  • Moderated by: Sarah Jones-Anderson, Greystone Affordable Development

11:15-11:45AM – VIRIDIANT UPDATES AND AWARDS PRESENTATION

Viridiant’s 12th annual awards ceremony will recognize leaders in high-performance construction in the following categories:

  • Project or Development – Multifamily New Construction
  • Project or Development – Multifamily Renovation
  • Project or Development – Single Family
  • Builder or Developer
  • Habitat for Humanity Affiliate
  • Project, Program, or Initiative
  • Visionary
  • Top High-Performance EarthCraft Home of the Year

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You can also join us on September 29th for the Building Sustainability Awards Celebration at Hardywood Park West Creek from 3:00-5:00pm. Attendees will have the chance to network with award winners & nominees, sponsor partners, and industry professionals. Light hors d’oeuvres and (1) drink ticket per person are included with ticket. You can register for this portion of the day here.

 

One Week Left to Nominate Your Project or Team!

Submit your nominations to be recognized at Viridiant’s upcoming virtual Building Sustainability Conference & Awards on September 29th!

The deadline to submit nominations is August 31, 2021 for the following awards:

  • Project or Development – Multifamily New Construction
  • Project or Development – Multifamily Renovation
  • Project or Development – Single Family
  • Builder or Developer
  • Habitat for Humanity Affiliate
  • Project, Program or Initiative

Award nominations are for work completed in the last three years in the mid-Atlantic region. While the use of a certification program is preferred, nominations are not required to be associated with EarthCraft or Viridiant. Category details and the judging matrix can be found here. Self-nominations are accepted and encouraged!

In addition to recognition at the virtual conference, award winners will be invited to an in-person awards celebration in Richmond to honor their achievements.

The deadline is just 1 week away – register your project or team today!

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Sponsor Spotlight: D3G

Viridiant’s Home Energy Audit a “Great Program for Homeowners in Virginia”

Viridiant’s Home Energy Audit a “Great Program for Homeowners in Virginia”

Is your home energy-efficient? If not, you may be spending more on your power bills than you should be. Viridiant’s Home Energy Audit can help you understand your home and where your energy dollars are really going. Our walk-through audit takes about two hours and starts at just $45. When you schedule this audit, you’ll receive a:

  • Whole-house inspection
  • Utility bill analysis
  • Complimentary energy efficient products installed during audit
  • Prioritized list of improvements to lower energy costs, improve health, and increase durability

Are you curious about why your space is uncomfortable, that closet is mysteriously too hot or cold, or your utility bills are high? Home energy audits are the first step towards finding the best solutions to all kinds of problems. But don’t just take our word for it. Clients across the Richmond region are raving about the everlasting benefits of Viridiant’s home energy audits. This program is not only available for homeowners, renters can all get this service.

Over the last year, our energy audits have:
  • Reduced annual energy use in greater Richmond by 122 megawatt hours
  • Saved our clients an average of $123 a year on their energy bills (that’s a typical month’s electricity bill gone!)
  • Installed more than 2,200 LED lightbulbs and over 2,100 feet of pipe insulation during our audits (all free to the client!)
  • Given detailed advice on how to make low-cost but high-impact improvements, provided solar production numbers and connected folks with quality contractors for HVAC work
Those are real results from helping folks like you live better and drive down our region’s carbon footprint. See what they have to say below.

 

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SolarizeRVA Campaign Gathers to Promote Region’s Clean Energy Momentum and Residential Solar Accessibility (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 22, 2021
Stacy Mitchell, Director of Communications & Outreach

SolarizeRVA Campaign Gathers to Promote Region’s Clean Energy Momentum and Residential Solar Accessibility

(Richmond, VA) In partnership with Henrico County and the City of Richmond, Viridiant hosted a collaborative SolarizeRVA awareness event in celebration of the Summer Solstice on June 21, 2021. The event was attended by members of local and state government, nonprofit, higher education, faith, and solar organizations.

SolarizeRVA is a public education campaign to help Richmond-area residents understand the costs and benefits of solar power systems for their homes. Local non-profit Viridiant leads this effort to engage residents who have questions about the value, technology, and logistics of home solar arrays and to connect them with vetted local contractors for bids. Over the long term, SolarizeRVA aims to bring 1,000 solar roofs to the Richmond Region, reduce dependency on nonrenewable resources, and provide real savings for area residents. Solar energy saves money and reduces energy dependency, and the switch is more appealing than ever, as the federal tax credit of 26% is set to go down at the end of 2022.

Viridiant was joined by industry leaders for the speaking program to discuss solar milestones and goals in our communities.

KC Bleile, Viridiant’s Executive Director, highlighted Viridiant’s merger with Richmond Region Energy Alliance (RREA) in April 2020 to develop the Community Energy Services Division under the Viridiant name. “What we love about the SolarizeRVA campaign is the community aspect, and building partnerships with the City of Richmond and Henrico County has been vital to its success. The SolarizeRVA campaign, home energy audits and community education campaigns are how we are helping Virginian’s reduce their dependency on common energy commodities.” Andrew Grigsby, Energy Services Director with Viridiant and former RREA Executive Director shared, “There is so much opportunity to save money and reduce your carbon footprint and as Viridiant is built on the foundation of building science, the new division is focused on bringing that expertise to the community.”

Alicia Zatcoff, Sustainability Manager for the City of Richmond, shared the city’s recently recognized SolSmart GOLD designation. Richmond is one of only four localities in Virginia that have received the GOLD level designation from SolSmart, a national program that assists and recognizes localities that foster the growth of strong solar markets in their communities by reducing barriers to going solar. The city received the GOLD designation after the Office of Sustainability worked with the Permits & Inspections Division of the Planning Department to verify that permits for small residential rooftop solar PV systems can be processed in three days.

“We are excited about the transition to a more clean energy source for our buildings,” shared Carrie Webster, Energy Manager for Henrico County, “We want to make this more accessible to Henrico’s residents. SolarizeRVA is a trusted way to get started.” The Henrico County Energy Management program works to reduce energy use and cost in government, public schools, and public utilities operations for both economic and environmental benefit. The county has recently completed its first rooftop solar systems and has several more projects planned for municipal buildings and schools.

Reverend Dr. Faith Harris, VUU Professor and Co-Director of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, and Kidest Gebre, Energy Lead with Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, discussed their environmental justice goals. Dr. Harris noted, “We all have a concern for the people on this earth and finding ways we can share and make it more sustainable for us all.” The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy is Virginia’s oldest faith-based advocacy group. A nonpartisan coalition of 750 faith communities, VAIPL advocates economic, racial, social, and environmental justice through education, prayer, and action.

Wendy Fewster, Climate Action Coordinator with the City of Richmond and 2014 SolarizeRVA participant, emphasized the SolarizeRVA program is the way to “have someone hold your hand and take you through the process” of your solar journey. With her solar array on display in full sunlight during the event, attendees were able to see firsthand what a home solar array looks like.

Learn more about SolarizeRVA at www.viridiant.org/solar.

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