Richmond mayor Levar Stoney recently announced that the river city will reduce its heat trapping gas emissions a whopping 80% by the year 2050! The Office of Sustainability has also just released the 2017 annual progress report. So, let’s look at ourselves and see how we’re doing. How are Richmond’s climate resiliency efforts coming along?
There’s a fair amount of good news in the 2017 report from the Office of Sustainability. While our metro population may not rival that of other mega-cities in the United States, we’re doing a fair amount of work in the field of conservation and resiliency. For starters, Richmond has already decreased greenhouse gas emissions by 15% since 2008. How's this possible, you ask? Well, since 2008 we've increased our renewable energy wattage 440 times! A pretty dramatic increase. That’s like going from a quarter in your pocket to having around $112 bucks. In other words, cha-ching, Richmond! This trend also happens to be seen in other places as well, but our focus is Richmond, VA. So, let's stay on track here!
We’ve made a significant dent in the amount of jobs that clean energy and conservation provides as well. Nearly 20% more local jobs now involve renewable energy, energy efficiency, green construction, conservation, and recycling! As the renewable energy field grows so will the amount of jobs created to help facilitate the new demand of clean energy here in central Virginia.
We’ve reduced emissions and bumped up jobs, but wait there’s even more good news. Our urban canopy, the amount of trees planted on public property, has increased nearly 365% since 2008. We all know the many benefits of trees, right? Since this urban canopy provides us with both cooling shade during warm days and cleans the air we breathe, this is like a two-fer folks!
We've still got more work to do, of course. Currently we only have about two miles of bike infrastructure (shared, multi-use, and bike-only lanes) per square mile here in Richmond, with more to be built in the near future. Other comparable cities could act as great role models for us as we continue to develop our urban areas and meet the demands of an ever-growing commuter base. For example, Alexandria, VA and Sacramento, CA have about three miles of bike infrastructure per square mile…clearly this is another opportunity for Richmond to really get in gear.
So there you go, some good news, but also much more room to grow. If Richmond keeps up the good work here our resiliency efforts will be be seen and felt everywhere...kinda like our breweries.