Earth Day came and went on Thursday, but the environmental work in Richmond continues.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin’s office commemorated the 40th annual holiday in part by issuing a release noting that the city has netted more than $6 million since last year in federal grant funds for “green” jobs.
According to the mayor’s office, the majority of the funds that have flowed into Richmond stem from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, which was funded under the federal stimulus plan last year. The grant freed up $3.2 billion for cities and counties nationwide to improve energy efficiency and spur green job growth.
Richmond’s unemployment rate is about 17 percent, according to the mayor’s office.
Marilyn Langlois, a community advocate in the mayor’s office, said much of the $6 million in Richmond is being used to fund energy efficiency upgrades to municipal buildings and low to moderate housing stock in the city. Brownfield remediation projects and solar panels are also being funded by the grant.
Richmond has drawn national attention in recent years with its Solar Richmond project, which creates green-collar job opportunities in the solar industry. The organization runs a 14-week training program in partnership with RichmondBuild, another local jobs program.
The city has dozens of green businesses, including SunPower Corp., a solar panel manufacturer whose renown drew Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who held a press conference on its production floor late last year.
McLaughlin is the only Green Party mayor of a city of more than 100,000 in the United States.
Earth Day was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental awareness event in 1970.