Wednesday, June 1, 2011

At Cool Citizen Awards Roanoke City Schools takes top honor

At its annual affiliates conference, Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition announced the winners of the 2011 Cool Citizen Awards. These awards are presented to individuals, businesses and organizations who have made significant progress toward the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through conservation, energy efficiency programs and the implementation of clean, renewable energy. Any of the 230+ members of the coalition can make nominations for the awards, and the winners are selected by a committee comprised of members of the board of directors. Awards are given in several categories (media, government, business, individual, and nonprofit). 

The capacity crowd at the Claude Moore Education Complex (Roanoke Higher Education Center) included members of the coalition, elected and administrative governments officials, and past award winners. In addition to Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition, the event sponsors included Citizens for Clean & Green (a citizens committee appointed by the City of Roanoke), Novozymes Biologicals Inc., Powermark Electrical, THOR Inc. General Contractors, Virginia Tech, Association of Energy Conservation Professionals, Cox, Direct Connect Solar & Electric, Roanoke Cement, and Wesco Distribution. 

A facsimile of Roanoke City Public School’s award certificate can be seen in the enclosed file. Pictures of the awards presentation will be available on request. The following text is extracted from the awards brochure that was distributed at the event: 

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT COOL CITIZEN (this award is given to the highest vote-receiving nominee from all categories)

Roanoke City Public Schools earned the top state ranking in the 2010 Virginia School Board Association Green Schools Challenge. More than 50 school systems engaged in a “friendly competition” in 30 categories. Roanoke achieved a perfect score, edging out Loudon and Albemarle counties. Highlights included: installing wind turbines atop four lighting poles at William Fleming High School’s football stadium; implementing an energy improvement plan including sensors to capture real-time electric usage data that can be viewed online and use of biodiesel to operate the division’s school bus fleet.


Cox Communications has distinguished itself as an environmental leader in the community through numerous actions, many of which directly relate to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Cox’s certification as a Cool Green Biz reflects significant efforts to reduce energy use. As part of Cox Conserves’ goal to reduce its carbon footprint by 20% in 10 years, Cox Roanoke began tracking the excessive idling time of 50 fleet vehicles in 2008. By educating their field technicians and monitoring results, they reduced excessive idling from an average of 426 hours per month to just over 60 hours a month – an 86% decrease! Cox’s emissions reduction program resulted in a CO2 reduction of 71,000 pounds – or 35.5 tons – per year. Other significant achievements include staging major E-Waste collection/recycling events (2010 and 2011).


Roanoke Group, Sierra Club. Outstanding leaders are not afraid of difficult challenges. Last year the Roanoke Group of Sierra Club carefully studied and endorsed a controversial wind energy project in Roanoke County – a project with the potential to reduce the region’s community carbon footprint by 98,000 tons of CO2 per year. Members of the Executive Committee have also appeared before the Roanoke County Planning Commission and the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors to support the use of properly sited wind power – both small and industrial scale – in the Roanoke region. They are excellent representatives of the largest grass roots environmental organization in the world.


Anne Marie Green, Director, General Services, Roanoke County. With strong support from Anne Marie, Roanoke County has launched significant efforts to reduce energy use through conservation and efficiency. She played a critical role in bringing together representatives from the City of Roanoke, Roanoke County, the town of Blacksburg and citizen representatives from the Roanoke Valley to develop and help fund the new “Save a Ton” campaign that will eventually provide a common message across the region.

Jim Vodnik, Assistant Director of General Services, Roanoke County works tirelessly behind the scenes to help reduce energy use in Roanoke County. A certified expert in weatherization, Jim has done the “heavy lifting” to write the county’s initial greenhouse gas emissions report and provide staff support for both county and valley-wide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He is one of the valley’s unsung heroes.

Herman L. Horn Elementary School has been progressive and aggressive in greening their school. They have instituted a school-wide recycling program and a tree planting program. Teachers Dawn Werness and Amanda Lusk were important organizers of this effort.


Katie Wallace, The Wallace Agency, owns a well-respected public relations firm in the City of Roanoke. Serving on the city’s Citizens for Clean and Green Committee, she has devoted untold hours to reducing the community’s carbon footprint, including development of the new “Save a Ton” campaign with Roanoke County and presentation design for the city’s first Green Citizens Academy. In addition, she has successfully encouraged at least one of her clients to complete the Cool Green Biz sustainability challenge.

Member One Credit Union’s new headquarters building in Roanoke has received a LEED Silver certification from the US Green Building Council. The 15,900-square-foot building is expected to save 25 percent in energy costs over the baseline building performance set by the building council. Twenty-six percent of the building’s materials were recycled, and 52 percent of the materials were manufactured regionally. THOR Inc. was the contractor on the project, which was completed in August 2010.


Keith Weinwurm, a retired business and marketing executive, has been the primary volunteer conducting site visits and evaluating applications for the Cool Green Biz program jointly sponsored by Cool Cities and the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce. Keith has the experience and professionalism to work with business managers at all levels.

Steve Sunderman pioneered the Virginia Green Schools Challenge for the Southwest Virginia Chapter of the US Green Building Council. With assistance from volunteer Green Mentors, 20 Southwest Virginia schools competed for recognition of their commitment to no-cost and low-cost sustainable practices such as low carbon, zero waste, and local food, with Glenvar Middle School named the winner.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Education, Local Events, Roanoke City Public Schools

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