Energy efficiency done right. After investing $2 million over three years to update the energy and water infrastructure of Clark Hall, the University of Virginia calculates that it is saving $75o,ooo a year in electricity bills and $22,000 in water bills — a payback in less than three years. The university replaced 5,000 interior and exterior fixtures with LEDs, put into place an electronically controlled HVAC system, and installed low-flow toilets and faucet aerators, among other changes. Since 2010, Office of Sustainability projects have avoided $35 million in energy fees, reports the Cavalier Daily. Building automation kills two birds with one stone: It dampens runaway higher-ed costs, and it reduces energy consumption.
Wytheville as winner. The Brookings Institution has highlighted Wytheville, population 8,000, as a successful example of community development in a rural town. Step one: Invest in downtown place-making through streetscape renovations, improved sidewalks, lighting, and crosswalks. Step two: Create a self-sustaining entrepreneurial ecosystem. With a grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Urban Development, Downtown Wytheville launched a competition to recruit local businesses and build partnerships with property owners. Inducements such as reduced rent, mentorships, and $75,000 in prize money were used to recruit the businesses downtown. As a result Wytheville has two (not one, but two) breweries, a Vietnamese bakery, and an art school id didn’t have before. In 2018, downtown received $800,000 in public investment and $5.7 in private investment.
Taming solar farms. The debate over solar farms rages unabated. Citizens for Responsible Solar, a Culpeper-based citizens group, is urging Madison County officials to restrict utility-scale solar plants to land zoned industrial. A proposal would require developers to submit a feasibility study detailing a solar farm’s impact on tax revenues, local construction dollars, permanent jobs, and costs in roads and other infrastructure. A viewshed analysis would examine the impact on neighboring landowners. The amendment also would compel developers to submit a plan for decommissioning the solar panels. The Star-Exponent has the story here. Could this proposal represent a reasonable compromise that will expedite the deployment of solar in Virginia or will it kill renewable energy?
Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. Uber and Lyft concede in a new study that their ride-hailing services contribute to traffic congestion in Washington, D.C., reports the Washington Post. The two firms in 2018 accounted for about 7% of all “vehicle miles traveled in the District, including time drivers spend circling waiting for fares or driving to pick them up. Their share for the entire Washington metro was 2%. The companies have come under attack for contributing to traffic congestion and siphoning siphoned passengers from the Metro transit system, thus adding to its financial woes. No one appears to have found a way yet to measure the value of added convenience to riders.There are currently no comments highlighted.