A new consensus

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Robert Powell

A tipping point has been reached in the long debate about protecting the environment. Being green is now mainstream.

A majority of Americans now appear to believe that we are wasting precious resources and doing damage to Mother Nature. They want to clean up their act, and they demand that businesses do the same. That is the starting point of this “green” issue, in which almost every story looks at how companies are adapting to this new consensus.

One of the terms that you will see repeatedly throughout the issue is LEED, the acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a certification program run by the U.S. Green Building Council in Washington, D.C. As writer Robert Burke points out in our cover story, Virginia has been slow to adapt LEED standards, but it is making up for its tardiness with a newfound passion. The number of LEED-certified buildings has jumped from 10 to 41 in the past two years and another 276 projects are in the pipeline for certification.

Burke reports that Virginia’s Arlington County is a leader among localities trying to reduce their carbon footprint. The county has implemented a campaign that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from county buildings and vehicles during the next four years.

The state government also is trying to help the environment. Doug Childers reports that Virginia has rolled out its first comprehensive energy plan and appointed a commission on climate change.
Meanwhile, Richard Foster finds that Virginia Tech is leading research in Southwest Virginia on carbon sequestration. That is the name for technology that could store captured carbon-dioxide emissions, which are believed to be a major contributor to global warming.

Consumers’ concern about the environment carries over to their choice of vacations. Elizabeth Cooper looks at the growing interest in green vacations in Virginia and how they are affecting the operation of the state’s hotels and motels.

Green concerns also are affecting the training of Virginia‘s work force at its community colleges. Christina Couch finds an increasing desire among college leaders to incorporate environmental issues in their courses to create Earth-conscious workers.

The renewed concern about nature also has created an opportunity and a challenge for the Richmond region. The city’s proposed master plan focuses on the James River as Richmond’s greatest asset. Already many development projects are lined up along the riverfront. But some people worry that the city may spoil the river through overuse.

Lastly, we are trying to do our part to make Virginia a greener state. This issue is printed on paper that is 30 percent recycled material. When you are through with it, keep a good thing going by putting it the recycling bin instead of the trash.

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