City News

Sustainability

Richmond top-rated for solar access, advances clean energy in the region

The City of Richmond was recently recognized as a SolSmart GOLD community for its efforts to make it faster, easier and less expensive for Richmonders to put solar on their homes and businesses.

The city’s solar power initiative is championed by the Office of Sustainability, in furtherance of RVAgreen 2050, the City's equity-centered climate action and resilience initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030, achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and help the community adapt to Richmond's climate impacts of extreme heat, precipitation and flooding.

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.

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.

In 2018, Richmond received a SILVER designation for making changes to become more solar friendly, including clarifying solar related zoning issues and creating a one-stop resource to make it easier and quicker for residents to find information on solar related permits. The city was also a Special Recognition Award winner in Inspections for going above and beyond and earning at least 60% of the total points available in at least one of the eight SolSmart categories.

The city's efforts to advance clean energy and support its RVAgreen 2050 initiative also include partnering with Henrico County and local non-profit Viridiant in the SolarizeRVA program to offer free one-stop, unbiased guidance for Richmond area residents to explore their solar and clean energy options and understand the costs and benefits of solar power systems for their homes.

Local non-profit Viridiant leads the effort to engage residents through community events, webinars, digital and direct engagement in order to provide information and resources about the value, technology and logistics of home solar arrays to ensure that potential solar adopters are fully equipped to make smart decisions for their households. To maximize the value and savings of solar energy, Viridiant also helps residents implement energy efficient strategies in their homes through home energy audits and community education events.

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 expire at the end of 2022.

Free SolarizeRVA informational webinars for residents are hosted monthly. The next virtual events are June 24 at 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. Learn more here.

Learn more about SolarizeRVA at www.viridiant.org/solar or by contacting Andrew Grigsby, Viridiant Energy Services Director, at energy@viridiant.org.

Find Richmond's online solar resources at https://www.rva.gov/sustainability/initiatives.

Learn more about Richmond's SolSmart designation and SolSmart at www.solsmart.org/communities/richmond-va.


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Earth Month Wrap-Up

Richmond, VA - Community engagement was the name of the game during Earth Month for the Office of Sustainability. Across April, we hosted and participated in a number of community events to promote awareness of our RVAgreen 2050 plan and receive feedback from Richmonders on the direction, vision, and draft strategies that will lead to a carbon neutral, resilient, and equitable city. 

  • In April, we partnered with the Science Museum of Virginia and ART180 to create an Earth Day event - eARTh Day - for the Boys and Girls Club Northside. The event focused on integrating art and science to help engage youth in climate action. During the event, the youth worked on planting in raised beds on the Club’s grounds, learned about composting, decorated pots to plant herbs that they could take home, and took air samples to help identify air quality around the Club. Once they completed these activities, they filled out the RVAgreen 2050 April Engagement Survey with things that they wanted to see in their neighborhoods to help with climate action and resilience. Ideas that the youth submitted include “picking up trash on the street,” “green roofs are a good solution to cooling the air and the community,” and “electric cars.” Thanks to everyone who helped out with and participated in this event!
  • In tandem with the roll-out of our draft vision, objectives, and strategies, we held RVAgreen Gabs each week in April to get the word out about the RVAgreen 2050 plan. Each panel was moderated by members of our working groups representing both technical experts and community representatives. Richmonders were invited to join to hear presentations about our different pathways, ask questions, and complete the RVAgreen 2050 April Engagement Survey. You can watch these “gabs” on our YouTube channel!

We are so appreciative of all of the different ways that Richmonders engaged with RVAgreen 2050 in April. During the month of April, we also asked Richmonders to provide feedback directly on our draft strategies, objectives, and goals towards creating a more climate-ready, resilient, and equitable Richmond. In total, we heard from almost 500 Richmonders about their priorities, ideas, and questions for RVAgreen 2050. After reviewing each piece of feedback, we saw that Richmonders care, in particular, about clean energy coming from both renewable energy sources and improved energy efficiency and expanding access to trees and green space as a way to reduce risks and impacts to the community and natural environment from extreme heat and drought. You can find a complete summary of our April engagement activities and results on our website.

Business Unit

Governor Northam, Mayor Stoney announce sustainable biotech firm to expand operations in Richmond, creating 250 new jobs

One of the draft strategies in the RVAgreen 2050 equitable climate action and resilience action plan is to "make Richmond a leader in attracting companies that promote a circular economy through creative and innovative solutions to waste reduction and recovery.” What do you think? Provide your input by April 30!

Read more about the announcement of new jobs in Richmond in sustainable biotech below!

 

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Media Advisory
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Contact: Devin Wood
Cell: 804-484-4800
Devin.Wood@richmondgov.com

Governor Northam, Mayor Stoney announce sustainable biotech firm to expand operations in Richmond, creating 250 new jobs

Grenova Inc. to invest $10.6 million to increase production of pipette tip cleaning, washing and sterilizing machines


Richmond, VA — Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Grenova Inc., a Virginia-based sustainable biotech firm that designs, develops, and manufactures devices that wash and sterilize contaminated pipette tips for reuse, will invest $10.6 million to expand in the City of Richmond. The company will relocate its operations from Manchester to a larger facility in Scott’s Addition and increase capacity with new production lines in response to the shortage of pipette tips used for COVID-19 testing. Governor Northam joined company leaders at the site of Grenova’s future location at 1900 Ellen Road to celebrate the project, which will add 250 new jobs over the next three years.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this homegrown sustainable biotech firm expanding and adding to its workforce in Richmond,” said Governor Northam. “It is remarkable to see Virginia’s innovative life sciences businesses quickly adapt and respond to critical needs as we fight this pandemic. Grenova is an emerging industry leader that has achieved exponential growth in a short time, and I applaud the company for leveraging its technology and expertise to address a global shortage and reduce environmental waste.”

Founded in Richmond in 2014, Grenova’s mission is to help lower costs and reduce biohazard waste by delivering groundbreaking approaches in dealing with plastic consumables. The company’s product, Tipnovus™ enables laboratories to wash and sanitize pipette tips for reuse numerous times, cutting associated consumable costs by up to 96 percent. Ten pipette tips are used to fully conduct one COVID-19 test, resulting in a worldwide shortage of the plastic consumable. Grenova’s technology allows healthcare systems to safely wash and reuse the pipette tips used for testing, which has helped to end pipette tip shortages and improve access to COVID-19 testing while making labs more environmentally friendly. Due to demand for Grenova’s products, the company has quadrupled in size in the last year. Grenova sells products from its Richmond facility to laboratories and distributors across the United States, as well as in Europe and Asia.

“This expansion project is an important win that will create 250 new, high-quality jobs and help improve Richmond’s standing as a life sciences hub,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Grenova is a great success story for the Commonwealth, and we are confident the region will continue to provide the business climate and workforce needed for years to come.”

“Our growth is a sign that the world is ready to rethink, reimagine, and reinvent the way plastic consumables like pipette tips are washed and reused within the life sciences industry and beyond,” said Ali Safavi, Founder and CEO of Grenova. “We’re proud to make our bold solution possible from our expanded headquarters in Richmond thanks to the Commonwealth’s thriving ecosystem of world-class talent, resources, and infrastructure.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Richmond to secure the project for the Commonwealth. Grenova Inc. is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, and funding and services to support the company’s employee recruitment and training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“Grenova’s sustainable solution for lab testing consumable products is a premier example of how great ideas and ingenuity flourish in the City of Richmond,” said Mayor Levar Stoney. “The City is thankful for the company’s capital investment and new job creation. Grenova’s new facility in Scott’s Addition demonstrates that entrepreneurial and life science ecosystems in Richmond are strong and continue to have a far-reaching impact.”

“The expansion of Grenova Inc. is wonderful news for Richmond,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “Creating jobs and reducing biohazardous waste are two critical goals that are good for Richmond and for the Commonwealth. Once again, Virginia leads the way.”

“I am so pleased to see Grenova’s expansion to its new and larger facility in Scott’s Addition,” said Senator Ghazala Hashmi. “Grenova’s introduction of innovative technologies helps to address the global shortage of pipette tips during this pandemic and also highlights how we can reduce biohazard waste. This expansion will bring exciting new jobs opportunities and further talent development in Richmond.”

“I am happy to hear that Grenova Inc. will be expanding its operations in the City of Richmond,” said Delegate Jeffrey Bourne. “The work that the company is doing to reuse pipette tips is an essential cog in the machine that is our COVID-19 response. Grenova’s presence in Richmond continues to provide important jobs as well as contributes to Richmond’s status as a place for innovation and growth.”

Business Unit

Go solar with Solarize RVA!

The City of Richmond, through the Office of Sustainability, has partnered with Viridiant, Solar United Neighbors, and Henrico County to launch SolarizeRVA 2021, a campaign to help the greater Richmond region transition to clean solar power generated right here in our community. Viridiant is a mission-driven non-profit that exists to speed Virginia’s transition to a sustainable built environment powered by clean energy sources.

Our own Wendy Fewster, Office of Sustainability Climate Action Coordinator, participated in the SolarizeRVA program back in 2014. She said, “the whole process went very smoothly. They came out and took measurements for how much sunlight I was getting and the installation was very neat. And the best part was that I knew I was getting the best price!” 


 

Check out more information from Viridiant below:

It’s a great time to go solar. The federal tax credit of 26% is set to go down to 22% at the end of 2022. Installation on your roof takes just 1-3 days depending on the complexity of the operation, and 99% of the work is outside, so it really is a safe undertaking during social distancing. Our re-design of the Solarize model offers both consumers and industry partners more flexibility to get to the best solutions and best prices on a customer-by-customer basis.

A critical first step in going solar at your home is making cost-effective improvements that reduce your need for electricity. Why make solar kilowatthours just to waste them? That’s why Viridiant also offers professional home energy audits for a personalized analysis of energy use, comfort, durability, health, and safety issues in your home. We will also do a free solar analysis while we are on site.

Learn more about solar, home energy audits and other services provided by Viridiant's Community Energy Services Division by visiting viridiant.org/energy-services/ or register for an upcoming informational webinar at viridiant.org/events.

Why would I want solar panels?
Solar panels can help you save money in the long run and they help the environment. For example, a 6KW array has an installation cost of $10,400 (after tax credits) but it makes more than 8,000 kWh per year and saves $77 per month.  Additionally, the tax credit for solar panels is 26% this year and it will decrease so it is the perfect time to buy them!

What is the process?
First, using a recent electric bill and your address, your home is evaluated to see if it’s a good candidate.  Important factors are your annual electricity use, if you have adequate roof space with good orientation, and if that roof area receives enough sun during the course of the day. If everything looks good, a site visit will be scheduled to do a more detailed assessment of your home, nearby trees, the condition of your roof, and your goals. From there a proposal will be prepared for you. Once you sign off, permits will be obtained, panels will be installed, as well as a net meter. This whole process will take about 6 weeks from start to finish, with about a week with a crew on site.

How much will it cost?
Cost can vary depending on the specifics of your home and site.

How long is the warranty?
Warranties are typically 20-25 years.

Are the consultations free?
YES!

Is all of this COVID-friendly?
Yes. Most of the work is done outside of your home in a few days. 

Business Unit