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.
Viridiant Launches New Brand for SolarizeRVA Campaign (Press Release)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – APRIL 26, 2021
Stacy Mitchell, Director of Communications & Outreach
(Richmond, VA) In partnership with Henrico County and the City of Richmond, Viridiant has launched a new SolarizeRVA campaign brand to advance clean energy in the Richmond region.
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. Through community events, webinars, digital and direct engagement, Viridiant’s expert staff seek to ensure that potential solar customers are fully equipped to make smart decisions for their households.
The campaign is made even more effective by the engagement of community partners. Viridiant is proud to partner with Henrico County and the City of Richmond to spread the word about the opportunity of solar and efficiency while connecting constituents to Viridiant’s free and low-cost services. Clean energy starts with energy efficiency and Viridiant offers home energy audits to help campaign participants find energy-smart solutions that make solar power go farther.
Viridiant’s Executive Director KC Bleile shared, “The SolarizeRVA campaign offers one-stop, unbiased guidance for Richmond area residents to explore their solar and clean energy options. Working with our county and city partners, the SolarizeRVA campaign provides clean energy solutions to meet Virginia’s Clean Economy Act commitment to the Commonwealth supporting 100% clean energy by 2050.”
Over the long term, we aim to bring 1,000 solar roofs to the Richmond Region, reduce dependency on nonrenewable resources, and provide real savings for area residents. Solar evaluations are easy, free and unbiased as we work to meet your home’s energy efficiency goals under the mission of our non-profit. Learn more at www.viridiant.org/solar.
About Viridiant: Since 2006, Viridiant has partnered to advance energy efficient buildings across the Southeast and has delivered over 30,000 high performance homes and buildings. In 2020, Viridiant introduced the Community Energy Services Division focusing on energy audits, solar and consultation.
About Henrico County: 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. Henrico County also strives to set a good example and be a resource for county residents, businesses, and employees interested in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and environmental sustainability.
About City of Richmond: RVAgreen 2050 is the City of Richmond’s equity-centered climate action and resilience planning initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030, achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and help the community adapt to Richmond’s climate impacts of extreme heat, precipitation, and flooding.
Viridiant and RREA Merge to Provide Expanded Services (Press Release)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – APRIL 16, 2020
Stacy Mitchell, Director of Communications & Outreach
Local non-profits expand services to homes and businesses under the Viridiant name
(Richmond, VA) Two Richmond-based non-profits are merging to provide expanded services to central Virginia and beyond. Staff from the Richmond Region Energy Alliance (RREA) will establish a new Community Energy Services division under the Viridiant name to offer energy audits, financial assistance, technical expertise, and education directly to homes, businesses, and organizations in the Richmond metro region.
Expanded services will include:
- home energy audits discounted using rebates from utility companies;
- technical support for energy-efficient mortgages;
- an update to RREA’s popular SolarizeRVA bulk-purchasing campaign; and
- community educational programming to explore the connection between energy use and climate change.
This partnership was conceived before the COVID-19 crisis as an effort to increase organizational efficiency and effectiveness, but those goals are even more salient now, as local institutions navigate a much-changed world. The public health crisis makes clean energy solutions more important than ever, as sheltering in place reminds us the importance of resilient, efficient shelter.
Of the organization’s merger with RREA, Viridiant Executive Director KC Bleile said, “By combining our organizations, we can really focus on bringing resources and immediate benefit to our community and the built environment.”
Andrew Grigsby, Energy Services Director for the newly established Community Energy Services division within Viridiant and former Executive Director of RREA, shared, “Viridiant and RREA have always shared the same vision and worked towards complementary goals. Together, we can provide more advanced energy services to our community, help more households and businesses save money, and accelerate a carbon-neutral future.”
As 2020’s Virginia Clean Economy Act has committed the Commonwealth to 100% clean energy by mid-century, Viridiant will have greater ability to help existing buildings – traditionally the most difficult market for clean energy applications. The expanded services under Viridiant will advance on-site solar, tried and true efficiency techniques, and cutting-edge innovations in smart homes, behavioral energy efficiency, big data, and more.
About Viridiant: For 14 years Viridiant has partnered to advance energy efficient buildings across the Commonwealth and has supported the delivery of over 25,000 high performance homes to families, primarily under the EarthCraft certification. In 2018 alone, Viridiant certified 2,550 homes, saving these families over $1 million collectively in energy bills and eliminating over 4 million pounds of coal burned. These families, and the thousands of families served before them, now have access to more affordable, more livable, and more durable housing in a healthier community.
About the Richmond Region Energy Alliance: Since 2010, RREA has provided the Richmond, Virginia region with technical assistance, quality referrals, discounts and rebates for efficiency and solar energy, research, advocacy, and leadership to promote and deploy clean energy solutions.
For more information and to learn more, visit www.viridiant.org/energy-services.
Remembering the 2020 RESNET Conference
As members of Viridiant staff continue to work remotely, we look back on our experiences at the annual RESNET Conference in February. The RESNET Building Performance Conference provides a diverse and dynamic opportunity for HERS raters to obtain usable solutions in an evolving industry. Viridiant staff attends every year to network with like-minded professionals and take home fresh information from the nation’s best experts in the industry. It’s also an opportunity to share Viridiant’s work in the Southeast with professionals around the country. Viridiant led a session on: What We’ve Learned from 10 Years of Multifamily HERS Rating.
They discussed Viridiant’s work with over 20,000 multifamily units, both new construction and existing, in building types ranging from garden style to high rise. Session information included the similarities and differences between multifamily and single-family ratings as well as strategies and potential pitfalls to consider. The presenters offered perspectives on energy modeling, quality assurance, field verification, and project management.
The RESNET Emerging Leadership Council (ELC) hosts a fellowship opportunity for young professionals in the industry to attend the conference for free. Viridiant’s Operations and Outreach Manager, Manon Shankle, was recognized as one of three fellows. Click to learn more about the ELC and fellowship program.
Pictured from left to right:
- Rachel LaMantia, EnergyLogic, 2020 ELC Fellow
- Leo Jansen, Energy Efficient Homes Midwest, Inc., ELC Chair
- Manon Shankle, Viridiant, 2020 ELC Fellow
- Steve Baden, RESNET Executive Director
- Aaron Hope, Southern Energy Management, 2020 ELC Fellow
We will look forward to next year’s conference when we can safety engage with the industry in a conference setting. Viridiant will continue to share industry news and positive highlights during these uncertain times. Click to view Viridiant’s response to COVID-19. RESNET staff is working with the rating community on determining creative ways that will allow us all to keep our employees safe while getting our business done. Click to see RESNET’s response and resources for the HERS Rating community.
Viridiant Response to COVID-19
Here at Viridiant, our top priority is promoting the wellbeing of our team members, clients, and the broader community.
We feel it is important to update you on the steps we are taking as precautionary measures.
To do our part in reducing the spread of COVID-19, you can have confidence in your ability to reach our team virtually during this period of social distancing.
Keeping the health and safety of our community in mind, we have postponed our Building Sustainability Conference & Awards and Bus Tour, originally scheduled for April 23rd and 24th respectively, until later this year. And while all partners were looking forward to our festival celebration around Earth Day, Party for the Planet has been canceled and will return in 2021 even bigger and better.
Viridiant remains committed to these events and will regroup soon to begin planning them for later this year when it is safe.
As a small non-profit, we greatly appreciate the continual support of our donors, clients, partners, and friends and we look forward to continuing our mission during this difficult time. Please contact any one of our team members with your questions, concerns, or business needs as we monitor and navigate this evolving situation.
Stay safe and healthy.
VA Dept. of Education’s New 17th Career Cluster: Energy (Podcast)
The Virginia Department of Education is introducing a 17th Career Cluster in July: Energy!
The energy industry is a vital part of Virginia’s economy and the new 17th cluster introduces students to the industry, provides information on job opportunities needed to meet growing workforce demands and develops a talent pipeline for the energy industry. The goal is to allow students to become interested in and aware of career opportunities in the industry and provide core skills which easily translate to industries such as architecture, construction, and manufacturing, increasing a student’s options for post-secondary education and career pathways. To learn more about Virginia’s 17th Career Cluster, click here.
The Henrico Career & Technical Education Center is releasing a series of podcast episodes related to the new 17th Career Cluster. For the first one, Viridiant’s Executive Director, KC Bleile, along with Henrico County’s Energy Manager, Carrie Webster, and Community Housing Partners’ Director of Utility Programs, Chase Counts, were invited to contribute to the conversation around energy efficiency careers. The episode discusses how each organization is contributing to the efficiency and sustainability of energy resources in the state of Virginia and what students can look for in an energy related career.
Listen below and hear how the energy career field is growing and vital in working towards true sustainability. Huge thanks to Henrico CTE for including Viridiant’s work in this important discussion and producing this great resource for students, parents, and anyone interested in the exciting career field of energy!
EarthCraft Certified Lawson Property Wins NAHB Multifamily Pillars of the Industry Award (Press Release)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Carl Hardee, 757-499-6161, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawson Wins NAHB Multifamily Pillars of the Industry Award
Seaside Harbor development recognized as Best Affordable Apartment Community (Up to 100 units)
Virginia Beach, VA – January 21, 2020 – Lawson is proud to announce that Seaside Harbor Apartments has won the 2019 National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Multifamily Pillars of the Industry Award for Best Affordable Apartment Community (up to 100 units). Seaside Harbor competed with a multitude of affordable properties throughout the country for this honor. The National Association of Home Builders is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing more than 140,000 members.
Located three blocks from the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach’s ViBe Creative District, Seaside Harbor provides best-in-class, energy-efficient, EarthCraft certified, workforce housing with a focus on residents with disabilities. Built in partnership with local non-profit Samaritan House as co-developer and co-general partner, Seaside Harbor replaced 39 apartments at the end of their useful life with 76 new modern apartment homes of which 15% are reserved for individuals with developmental disabilities capable of independent living and 25% meet fully, permanently accessible unit requirements as set forth by the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standard (UFAS). Lawson also partnered with Hope House to provide supportive services for the developmentally disabled residents.
Lawson Chairman Steve Lawson said “Seaside Harbor embodies Lawson’s focus on positively impacting the communities we serve. We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish at Seaside, with some incredible partners – Samaritan House and Hope House, and we are humbled to be recognized with this award.”
Samaritan House Executive Director Robin Gauthier said “We at Samaritan House congratulate the team at Lawson on this amazing recognition. It is their longstanding commitment to the needs of the Hampton Roads community and those less fortunate that makes them and this unique project deserving of this award. “
Lawson President Carl Hardee added, “The programs and services Samaritan House and Hope House provide to our residents are highly valuable and contribute greatly to the sense of inclusiveness we all wanted to achieve at Seaside. We are extremely appreciative to all our dedicated team members and business partners who helped bring Seaside from a concept to reality.”
At Lawson, we understand that what we do – and how we do it – affects the everyday lives of people we care about. Since 1972, we’ve focused on positively impacting the communities we serve, from team members and residents to investors and business partners. We manage and own approximately 5,500 apartment units and are continuing to grow by developing more apartment communities each year throughout Virginia. Our business model vertically integrates development, construction, property management and asset management, which enables our team of experts to add value at every stage for our partners. When you act with integrity, focus on quality and work to find creative solutions, great things are possible. It’s how we’ve done business at Lawson for over 45 years. For more information, visit www.lawsoncompanies.com.
Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing Grand Opening of Gilliam Place
In November 2019, after nearly 7 years in the making, Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) celebrated the grand opening of the 173-unit Gilliam Place. The Viridiant team is proud to work with APAH and KGD Architecture through the EarthCraft certification process. The project team pursued EarthCraft Platinum. Efficient features include:
- Continuous exterior insulation
- Locating duct work in conditioned space
- HVAC equipment: 15 SEER, 8.5 HSPF
- DOAS mechanical ventilation
- EnergyStar appliances
APAH President and CEO Nina Janopaul said, “Gilliam Place is APAH’s most ambitious property yet, and we are thrilled with the result. In addition to providing 173 new affordable homes for our neighbors who need it most, the commercial and civic space on the ground floor means that people from throughout the community can benefit. Whether they come here to worship at the church, to learn new skills at La Cocina, or participate in an APAH program – Gilliam Place will be a gathering place for the entire neighborhood.”
The $71 million mixed-use project features nearly 9,000 sq. ft. of commercial and civic space, 173 affordable apartments and a new home for Arlington Presbyterian Church and La Cocina café and bilingual culinary training center.
The complex includes 15 accessible units to meet the needs of persons with disabilities is rated EarthCraft Multifamily Platinum for its environmental and energy efficiencies.
“Virginia’s affordable housing challenge is simply too important and too complex, to tackle it with the same old solutions,” said Susan Dewey, Executive Director of Virginia Housing Development Authority. “Fresh approaches, like those that turned a bold vision for Gilliam Place into a true home for Arlington’s working families, are crucial to improving quality of life and making opportunity and prosperity accessible to all.”
Virginia Residential Energy Code Field Study Report Released!
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building Energy Codes Program is conducting a series of research studies investigating building energy code implementation to assist states in measuring energy code compliance and to identify areas of focus for future education & training initiatives.
Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) led the initiative in Virginia and provided funding for Viridiant to perform a field study in 2017-2018 to assess how well the residential energy code was being implemented across Virginia in new construction single family buildings. Following Viridiant’s data collection and analysis by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the Baseline Report was released in October 2019. Key findings include:
- Significant energy and cost savings potential exist through increased compliance with targeted measures. Potential statewide annual energy savings are 150,752 MMBtu, which equates to nearly $3 million in cost savings, and emission reductions of nearly 75,000 MT CO2e. Over a 30-year period, these impacts grow to 70 MMBtu, $1.3 billion, and over 34 million CO2e in avoided emissions.
- Duct leakage and envelope air leakage measures showed the greatest potential for energy savings.
- To achieve potential energy savings focus should be applied to energy code compliance-improvement programs including educational, training, and outreach initiatives.
Based on the results of the study, SEEA provided funding for Viridiant to lead energy code trainings across Virginia. These trainings are intended to provide code officials, builders, architects, and subcontractors with a better understanding of compliance with the targeted energy code measures and how to meet 2015 energy code changes.
- Virginia Residential Energy Code Field Study: Baseline Report | October 2019
- DOE Energy Code Field Studies (15+ Participating States)
- Energy Code Trainings (Hosted by Viridiant)
Award Finalists Honored at the Building Sustainability Conference & Awards
On Thursday, April 25th, regional leaders in the advancement of sustainable design and construction were honored at Viridiant’s Building Sustainability Conference & Awards. The annual event highlighted efforts to build sustainability in our communities and infrastructure with a focus on health, resilience, and innovation. This year’s event aimed to educate and recognize innovative solutions of today to meet the needs of the evolving building industry of tomorrow.
Viridiant hosted four conference sessions and an inspiring keynote address from Dr. Danny Avula. The featured sessions and speakers shared knowledge and inspired discussion, all in an effort to drive change in the protection of our living environments, both inside and out. The speakers’ presentations are available for download HERE. Topics included:
- Energy Code Research
- Municipal Sustainability Programs in Virginia
- Building Resilience into Commercial and Residential Structures
- Construction Delivery of the Future
- Keynote: Building a Culture of Health in RVA
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. Award winners include:
- Visionary Award: Sustainable Design Consulting, LLC (SDC)
- Program, Initiative, or Partnership: Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE)
- Next Generation: Jennifer Kearney – University of Richmond
- Builder or Developer: Metro Green – Arlington, VA
- Habitat for Humanity Affiliate: Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley
- Project or Development: Presented to outstanding projects or developments with a focus on energy efficiency, integrated design, resource efficiency and conservation, resiliency, innovation, and/or community impact.
- Top High Performance Homes: Presented to the top three homes certified by Viridiant in 2018 with consideration for design, construction, energy efficiency, and systems.
Special thanks to our 2019 event sponsors!