SOURCE: U.S. Conference of Mayors

U.S. Conference of Mayors

June 24, 2016 13:27 ET

New Bedford and Richmond (VA) Mayors Win 1st Place for Their Climate Protection Efforts

Award Winners Announced at U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, IN--(Marketwired - June 24, 2016) - New Bedford and Richmond, VA are the nation's top winners in the 2016 Mayors' Climate Protection Awards, an initiative sponsored by The U.S. Conference of Mayors and Walmart. The winners were announced today during the Mayors' Climate Protection Awards luncheon, which was held in conjunction with USCM's 84rd Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, IN.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this mayors' awards program recognizes mayors for their energy and climate protection efforts, selected by an independent panel of judges from a pool of mayoral applicants.

"Mayors Jon Mitchell and Dwight Jones are both innovators and leaders, showing us how to confront the energy and climate protection challenges before our cities and the nation," said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. "As we witnessed in Paris late last year, it is the mayors who are the first responders in this global battle, whether it is reducing harmful emissions or fortifying their cities to withstand increasing threats from climatic events."

"We congratulate the winning mayors for their innovative work around energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gases," said Laura Phillips, Senior Vice President for Global Sustainability for Walmart Stores, Inc. "Cities and businesses are leading the way to save both money and the planet. Together, we can help be engines of opportunities that sustain this generation, and the next."

"Improving the quality of life for our residents and creating a healthy environment while enhancing economic development and job creation opportunities are our triple bottom-line goals of RVAgreen," said Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "As the first and only local government in Central Virginia to create a formal sustainability program, we've been able to lead the way with improvements from our CNG fleet conversions, expanded recycling efforts, community gardens program, new bike infrastructure, and many other efforts that make up our 55 initiatives under the plan."

"As a prominent East Coast port, New Bedford has a lot at stake when it comes to sea-level rise and climate change. That's why I've always thought it is important for us to lead by example. Whether it's our nation-leading solar program or our efforts around offshore wind energy, we've tried to demonstrate that much can be accomplished when there is a strong local consensus and sustained commitment to big renewable energy goals. New Bedford is honored to receive this recognition for our efforts," said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.

"As we are celebrate our tenth anniversary of these awards, there seems to be an limitless supply of innovation and leadership by the nation's mayors on energy and climate protection," said Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran. "We continue to urge our other governmental leaders to do more to support mayors and local leaders in meeting the energy and climate challenges before all of us."

FIRST PLACE WINNERS
Richmond (VA) Mayor Dwight C. Jones -- RVAgreen, the city's Sustainability and Energy Management Program, makes the City of Richmond more livable, more competitive, and more resilient, while improving the economic and environmental performance of its government operations. This community-based plan developed over a yearlong process with the input of more than 400 citizens and 65 stakeholder organizations and has five focus areas: economic development, energy, environment, open space and land use, and transportation. The city has also developed twelve broad indicators to assess progress on its sustainability goals and the headway made in achieving the 55 sustainability initiatives that were established under RVAgreen. Accomplishments thus far include new buildings performance standards, CNG conversions of fleets, expanded curbside recycling, tree planting, the creation of a riverfront plan for open space and recreation, investment in bike infrastructure, and a number of transportation improvements that are transforming Richmond into a multi-modal city. ($25,000 for 1st Place in the Large City Category -- population over 100,000)

New Bedford Mayor Jonathan F. Mitchell -- New Bedford's Solar and Wind Energy initiatives have established the city as national leader. With more than 16 Megawatts of solar projects having been constructed to provide power for municipal facilities, New Bedford, on a per capita basis, has more installed solar capacity than any city in the continental U.S. As a result, utility costs to city government have been cut by nearly $1 million, with $22 million in savings projected over the next twenty years. New Bedford has also been a leader in the conversion of its municipal fleet to electric vehicles; and the city is poised to play a prominent future role in the offshore wind energy industry as wind projects now in development look to the city's specialized port terminal as a key staging area. ($15,000 for 1st Place in the Small City Category -- population under 100,000)

In addition to the first place winners, Honorable Mentions were awarded to mayors in three large cities and three small cities for their exceptional achievements in efforts to promote climate protection:

LARGE CITY HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Joseph Ganim, Mayor of Bridgeport (CT), for his city's Low-Temperature Thermal Heating District; Kitty Piercy, Mayor of Eugene (OR) for her city's Climate Recovery Ordinance; and Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York (NY) for his city's GHG Buildings Technical Working Group.

SMALL CITY HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Jerry Willey, Mayor of Hillsboro (OR), for his city's Environmental Sustainability Plan; Alex B. Morse, Mayor of Holyoke (MA), for city's Carbon-Neutral Electricity; and Tom Stallard, Mayor of Woodland (CA), for his 2,400 Trees Campaign.

Descriptions of the winning programs can be found at: http://usmayors.org/climateprotection/2016Awardees.

For more information about USCM's 84rd Annual Conference, please visit www.usmayors.org/.

About The United States Conference of Mayors -- The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1,400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/usmayors, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/usmayors.

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