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Virginia Living Museum receives Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award

Virginia Living Museum receives Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award

The Virginia Living Museum has received a 2015 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Gold Award for its Living Green in the Bay Watershed program, which exemplifies the museum’s mission of promoting stewardship and conservation practices through engaging exhibits to promote sustainable practices by Virginia residents.

“This award goes to all the present and past staff and volunteers who have helped make the VLM a “green” facility long before “green” was fashionable,” said Fred Farris, VLM deputy director.

“Above and beyond the green initiatives adopted by the VLM, this award is also recognition of 50 years of environmental education of millions of Virginia students. From recycling to solar panels, from LED lights to water saving faucets, from green cleaners to green roofs, the VLM continues each year to make our facility a more earth-friendly place to visit.”

The Governor’s awards were announced March 31 at the 26th Environment Virginia Symposium in Lexington. The awards recognize the significant contributions of environmental and conservation leaders in three categories: sustainability, environmental project, and land conservation. They are given to businesses and industrial facilities, not-for-profit organizations and government agencies.

“These awards highlight the excellent work done by Virginia organizations to protect our natural resources,” remarked Governor Terry McAuliffe in announcing the awards. “Award winners demonstrate leadership with their innovative methods, and it is a pleasure to recognize these outstanding efforts.

The awards are sponsored by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The VLM was recognized for its overall environmental efforts. The museum is a certified Virginia Green Attraction, committed to minimizing its environmental impacts by preventing pollution wherever feasible in its operations. The museum’s mission is to promote stewardship of the earth and conservation practices. The VLM has a Green Team, which is a cross departmental volunteer committee of staff members that has helped lead “green” practices and programs for over 20 years.

The museum has a strong partnership with numerous environmental groups (e.g., USGreen Building Council, Hampton Roads Green Building Council, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network/NPS, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Green Travel Alliance, etc.) and has been successful with grant applications allowing the development of permanent exhibits about energy conservation, green building practices, solar energy applications and conservation gardening/landscaping.

These include the 46.2 kW roof mounted solar photovoltaic panel installation, the change from asphalt walkways to permeable paver pathways, green roof installations, stream buffer plantings of native species and recirculating stream systems in outdoor exhibits.

Farris said, “The sustainability efforts go beyond the exhibits to include the reuse of cafe frying oil to power staff vehicles, reuse of newspapers for animal cage bedding replacing the need to purchase commercial bedding and a switch to non-toxic materials for cleaners, inks, and deicers.

“The VLM is also one of the largest environmental education centers in the state and has put enormous planning and investment into creating permanent, engaging exhibits to promote sustainable practices by Virginia residents. For instance, the Goodson House demonstrates green building products and practices by displaying the house ‘unfinished’ with cut-away windows into the walls to expose green building systems to visitors,” Farris said.

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L to R: Joe Elton, Director of Virginia State Parks; Clyde Cristman, Director of Dept. of Conservation and Recreation; Russ Baxter, Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources for the Chesapeake Bay; Fred Farris, Deputy Director Virginia Living Museum; and David Paylor, Director of Dept of Environmental Quality.

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