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How Central Virginia Supports Sustainability 

Central Virginia works together to promote environmental sustainability

By Cary Estes on October 19, 2022

Residents walking on the Fifeville Trail in Charlottesville, which is located in Central Virginia.
Sophia Chapin/The Piedmont Environmental Council

The outdoor splendor of Central Virginia was formed well before any footsteps trod across these gorgeous grounds. Now the people here are determined to ensure that this natural beauty never fades.

“We have ready access to some of the most beautiful places in America that people can easily experience,” says Peter Krebs, community outreach coordinator for the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), a nonprofit organization that helps promote and protect the natural resources and beauty of the Virginia Piedmont. “This has not happened by accident.”

Indeed, organizations and businesses throughout the region regularly work with individual communities to create an environmentally friendly atmosphere that benefits residents for generations to come. And PEC’s work extends to counties like Madison, Orange, Culpeper and Greene, among others.

The PEC has been deeply involved in such efforts for 50 years, promoting sustainability through fellowships, internships, volunteer programs and community engagement. For example, each year, 12 area students are selected to spend eight weeks with the PEC, studying with experienced professionals about land conservation, planning and agriculture.

“Even though we are blessed to live in a gorgeous landscape, having access to that open space and having safe places to hike, and bike and ride horses is not necessarily a given,” Krebs says. “So we work to create new parks and access points and help protect the landscape.

Walking and biking on the Saunders-Monticello Trail, which is located in Central Virginia.
Marco Sanchez/The Piedmont Environmental Council

“The PEC empowers residents of all ages to play an active role in determining the future of their community. We work with residents to bring their voice to the conversation, to make sure that their vision of a well-preserved Piedmont is implemented.”

This long-standing community commitment is one of the reasons that Apex Clean Energy based its operations in Charlottesville in 2009.

The renewable energy company builds and operates wind and solar power facilities throughout the country as part of its goal of “decarbonizing the U.S. electric grid.” 

Apex has partnered with several groups and organizations throughout Central Virginia. These include the University of Virginia, which recently created a 10-year sustainability plan, and the City of Charlottesville, which keeps residents updated on local sustainability initiatives through the Climate Action Together online resource.

All these efforts are designed to keep the beauty of Central Virginia evident today in view for many, many tomorrows to come.

“We want to make sure that the community that people spend their life in is a great place to live and that what you see out your window is worthy of that best life,” Krebs says. “We’re trying to do great things, and it’s because of the residents being strong advocates that we can.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Central Virginia area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Central Virginia

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