Sowing seeds for green

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Print this page Robert C. Powell III, Editor

When Virginia Business published its first “green issue” last year, we found many people were unfamiliar with the concept of green jobs. Since then, the term has become more widely used, thanks in part to President Barack Obama’s campaign promises to rely more heavily on renewable energy sources.

Where will Virginia’s green jobs come from? Richmond writer Nicole Anderson Ellis, whose monthly column appears in our commercial real estate section, discovers that these jobs might be created by wind turbines off the Atlantic Coast or “farms” that turn algae into biofuel.

Meanwhile, Virginia’s major research universities are developing technologies that could change the way we use energy. Amherst County writer Heather B. Hayes reports, for example, that Virginia Tech is figuring out ways to upgrade the national power grid into a “smart grid” that integrates power from renewable sources.

In commercial real estate, an increasing number of buildings in Virginia are being constructed to meet the environmentally friendly standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Fredericksburg writer Robert Burke says many developers are not getting the higher rents they expected from these properties. Nonetheless, LEED certification helps them attract tenants in a tough market.

That tough market affects resort hotels as well. Richmond writer Lisa Antonelli Bacon finds that a boost in bookings from the presidential inauguration was short-lived.  Now hotels are offering perks and promotions to attract business and leisure travelers.

The slow economy also has taken its toll on the Richmond region, an area once considered recession-proof. Richmond writer Chip Jones says the loss of major employers such as Circuit City Stores and LandAmerica Financial Group has shaken Richmond’s business community. Nevertheless, local leaders believe the region hasn’t lost the qualities that attracted two Fortune 500 companies in the past three years.

Who knows? Maybe Google is looking for greener pastures.

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