Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cool Cities Coalition Presents Environmental Awards

Cool Cities Coalition Award Winners (above). Below is FRONT editor Dan Smith (left, and a former Media honoree), presenting the media award to Gene Marrano, who contributes to FRONT.

The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC) was named the coolest organization in the Roanoke region at today’s All Affiliate Conference of the Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition.

Wayne Strickland, RVARC’s Executive Director, accepted the award on behalf of the Commission while Richard Flora, Chairman of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, and Court Rosen of Roanoke City Council presented the award.

RVARC garnered the Special Achievement Cool Citizen award for its leadership in regional sustainability efforts. Other winners are:
  • RIDE Solutions - Creative strategies to encourage bicycling, carpooling and other alternative transportation
  • Volunteers for Energy - free energy audits and recommendations for local organizations
  • Partnership for a Livable Roanoke Valley - planning to promote economic vitality, environmental quality, and equal opportunity in the Roanoke region
The award honors individuals and organizations that have done the most to reduce harmful emissions during the past year. Other winners included:
  • Brandon Oaks and Bench Mark Builders, Business
  • Roger Holnback (Western Virginia Land Trust) and Mark Jackson (New River Center for Energy Research and Training), Nonprofit
  • Journalist Gene Marrano, Media. (Marrano is a FRONT contributor and the magazine’s second winner of this award. Editor Dan Smith won two years ago)
  • Janet Scheid, Mary and Doug McCallum, Individual
The conference also featured a stirring presentation by Dr. Melissa Booth titled “Changing Climate, Changing Oceans: What Does It Mean for Citizens of Virginia?” Booth is a marine biologist who recently managed a University of Georgia research station on Sapelo Island.

Marrano is an award-winning freelance print, radio and cable television journalist who has reported on environmental issues and interviewed "green" newsmakers for more than 15 years in the Roanoke Valley.

Brandon Oaks has positioned itself as the green retirement community of choice in the region with its advertising campaigns and, more importantly, Cool Green Biz certification through the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce and the construction of the newest addition, The Pines.

Suzi Fortenberry (and her husband Brent) of Bench Mark Builders have developed and built the Preserve at Two Ford, where every single home is Earth Craft certified. She is a longtime member of the Roanoke County Community Environmental Action Roundtable.

Jackson of the New River Center for Energy Research and Training, part of Community Housing Partners, provides training in state-of-the-art residential energy conservation techniques, home performance testing, and heating and cooling equipment diagnostics, repair and replacement.

Holnback of the Western Virginia Land Trust has led the Land Trust to preeminent status in Southwest Virginia, finding new donors, enlarging the holdings and protecting land from unchecked development. He recently retired.

Mary and Doug McCallum earned a permit to erect the first small wind turbine in Roanoke County on their property. They have educated others on the benefits of clean, renewable energy by speaking out in public meetings and as presenters at the 2011 Green Living and Energy Expo.

Janet Scheid supports energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction in Roanoke County and the region through her service on the Roanoke County Community Environmental Action Roundtable and the Greenway Commission. She spoke out publically in support of Roanoke County's ICLEI membership.


  1. How do you measure the impact these folks have on reducing carbon emissions? Is it simply based on their good intentions? Or is it similar to the 200 tons of carbon emissions a local group claimed to save by handing out flyers?

    1. Good question, Leslie...let's see if "they" Cool Cities answers it, or backs sheepishly away.

  2. Backing sheepishly away it appears. :-)