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About the Center

The Center for Natural Capital creates grassroots programs and projects to link our economy with nature. We work in the mid-Atlantic region of North America.

2017 Services, Programs, and New Projects Highlights

  • Continue Growth of SoilKeepers Landscape Service in core markets of Charlottesville and Fredericksburg, Virginia
  • StreamSweepers removal of large piles of riverbank junk over winter 2017 too large to float out 2016
  • First time cleaning and assessment of portions of Mattaponi
  • First time cleaning and assessment of SWVA rivers
  • First time cleaning and assessment of additional Rappahannock River Basin Headwater Rivers
  • Bioenergy Hub of the Appalachians Market Analyses and Planning
  • Bioenergy Green Bonds Program Kickoff
  • Stimulate adoption of Community Energy Solutions featuring Local Wood and Grass Energy and including Institutional Scale Engineering and Design Assistance
  • Planting winter prepped native warm season grass meadows in Central Virginia
  • Continued consulting with clients on cost effective carbon and reactive nitrogen reduction strategies and on Chesapeake Bay Forestland Retention Pilot Projects

2016 Services, Programs, and New Projects

  • Continue Growth of SoilKeepers Soil Health Landscape Service in Central Virginia.KIMG0303
  • Expand StreamSweepers River Maintenance and Restoration Service to include:
    • Maintenance of entire Rapidan River
    • Maintenance of entire Robinson River
    • First time cleaning and assessment of entire Hughes River
    • First time cleaning and assessment of portion of Mattaponi River
  • Deploy Rapidan Wildlife Habitat Cooperative as Pilot Project for landowners in a 20 sq. mile radius around the intersection of the Rapidan River and Rt. 15 in Central Virginia.
  • Grow markets for local wood and native warm season grass fuel for local heat and cooling in Central Virginia.

2015 Programs and Projects


  • Expansion of StreamSweepers River Cleaning and Assessment Service from 40 miles to 80 miles of rivers in Virginia
  • Expansion of SoilKeepers Yard Maintenance and Restoration service to Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Pilot testing of QuailQuilt – a service to connect landowners wanted to create contiguous wildlife friendly habitat
  • Expansion of Local Wood and Native Grass Bioenergy Jobs and Markets in Virginia
  • Expansion of nutrient credit transaction simulations to entire Rapppahannock River Basin of Virginia

2014 Programs and Projects

This year, Center staff and consultants will be focusing their efforts on the following programs and projects:

  • Expansion of StreamSweepers River Maintenance and Restoration Services
  • Pilot testing of SoilKeepers Yard Maintenance and Restoration Services
  • Expansion of Forests to Faucets (F2F) Built and Natural Infrastructure Optimization Training
  • Growth of Virginia’s Local Bioenergy (Wood and Grass) Economy

2013 Initiatives

Our Mission is to create, optimize, and integrate natural capital solutions into the marketplace. We start each day with the goal of utilizing the abundance of human ingenuity and organizational energy to solve problems and move innovation into transactions of change. This challenge represents the greatest frontier for improvement in our relationship with the environment. It allows us to view our natural capital for more than its intrinsic value, and engage the power of entrepreneurism to improve our ecosystems and our economy. The primary channels of The Center for Natural Capital (CNC) are Energy, Rivers, Landscape, People, and the unlimited points of intersection among them.

If we could invent the future, we’d see revitalized Main Streets with shops filled with customers spending dollars generated from nearby restoration projects; we’d see farmers able to diversity their income streams from environmental services sales; and we’d see youth with jobs cleaning and monitoring our rivers and streams.

CNC has been created from the integration of two existing organizations; Public Policy Virginia and Conserv into one. The Boards wanted to create an entity that could generate some of its own revenue – so CNC has both a 501 c-6 and 5-1 c-3 IRS designations allowing for both fee and donor sources of revenue. Through our Energy and Rivers channels, we think that we can help consortiums of private companies build markets for eco-products/services they want to increase sales of, but need a coordinating entity to conduct systems integration. Through our People channel, along similar lines, we have already created and “spun-off” a c-corp Virginia “Benefit Corporation” to raise small amounts of funding for other environmental groups and landowners – that they can use outright or for matching their own grants. Then there are those projects that just don’t have a market, emerging or otherwise, that can be tapped into for support, or are simply too experimental, for an entrepreneurial approach. For those, donor support is needed. These are projects like StreamSweepers, a youth conservation job corps, approved by a local public school system, with student training through a brand new Ecology II class (spring semester). We”ll offer employment to some of these kids to clean tires, etc. and conduct simple water testing on streams. And where will we get the funds to pay the kids? actually, we hope to create a real revenue stream by offering stream cleaning as a form of landscape service to groups of streamside landowners willing to help the environment and local youth. But here’s where you come in – we need funds to help pay to get the kids trained – things like boats, water testing equipment, transportation costs, etc. just aren’t in schools’ budgets these days.

There are other projects like this described in our 2013 Development Plan that we’d be happy to send to interested parties. Projects like Rivanna Forests to Faucets (F2F), Phase II, where we want to work with local environmental and economic development groups in Charlottesville, Virginia to reconvene the South Fork Rivanna Task Force, last convened 5 years ago, to determine the optimum mix of forest conversation and dredging, for the next 100 years, using the Optimum Infrastructure Expenditure (OIE) tool recently developed with the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Another project that will be interested to watch in the upcoming year is Ahyayha, Inc. – our crowdfunding eco-restoration platform. It is noteworthy that the original group of investors just recently agreed to sell their first round of shares to raise more capital for the platform.

We hope you will consider supporting our projects and programs.

2012 Initiatives

Forests to Faucets (F2F)

In 2012, Forests to Faucets will focus on completion of a green and grey infrastructure capital expenditure optimization tool, called the Optimum Infrastructure Expenditure (OIE). What is to be optimized is being called the Watershed-Reservoir Wellness Index (WRWI) – an index that blends watershed health (a simple measure of land cover) and reservoir wellness (a simple measure of pollutant load).

In addition, the F2F payments for ecosystem services program (PES) will continue to provide funds for landowners for practices that enhance water quality – related environmental services.

Rappahannock River Friendly Yard

The River Friendly Yard is one of several demonstration projects launched in 2011 by the Rappahannock River Basin Commission. Each projects is designed to test a cost effective approach to reduce nutrient pollution to the Rappahannock River and Chesapeake Bay. The River Friendly Yard is attempting to develop incentives that will lead to conversion of conventional lawn to “river friendly yard” – using an “open source” technology based platform to create a River Friendly Technology Ecosystem. Recognition that there are impediments, particularly including cost of conversion that must be mitigated before large scale conversion occurs, is what differentiates this effort from other environmentally-friendly yard projects in the U.S..

Rappahannock Bioenergy Buffers for the Bay

This program is considering the cost-effectiveness of using bioenergy to help meet the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. More information is forthcoming.

Rappahannock Nutrient Neutral Highway

This project is looking at mechanisms to neutralize the environmental impact of a new highway on the Bay and creating a micro-payment system to pay for the neutralization. More information is forthcoming.


Ahyayha is Conserv’s newest spin-off company. Ahyayha is a micro-funding system that creates a web of benefits for small environmental restoration projects. The Ahyayha beta-funding system will deploy spring 2012.

2011 Initiatives

Optimum Environmental Expenditure (OEE) Model

An Optimum Environmental Expenditure Model will be created to compare the cost effectiveness of “upstream” conservation practices (natural infrastructure) in the South Fork Rivanna River Reservoir Watershed with “downstream” dams and dredging (built infrastructure) to mitigate the decline of four water-supply related ecosystem services; groundwater base flow, soil cycle, nitrogen cycle, and the phosphorus cycle.

The model will integrate social, financial, and environmental data to yield the alternative costs borne by a Charlottesville area ratepayer for a gallon of drinking water. This work will take two years to complete and is a new component of the 2010 Forests to Faucets (F2F) initiative (see below).

Trust for a Clean Water Economy – Rappahannock Watershed

In December, 2009, the Rappahannock River Basin Commission voted to test an economic development-based pollution reduction platform called the Trust for a Clean Economy. The Trust, primarily conceived as a “Watershed Bank”, is designed to reduce pollution into the Rappahannock River and Chesapeake Bay. The “architecture” for the Trust will be tested through models and simulations in 2011. Based upon these simulations, an implementation plan will be developed. Essentially a business plan, this document will estimate the costs and capabilities of the entity to help meet EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Rappahannock drainage basin of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Trust Demonstration Projects

Testing of Market Infrastructure for Trust for Clean Water Economy

The purpose of the proposed initiative is to test and evaluate the architecture of a private sub-watershed based ecosystem services management entity – the Trust for a Clean Water Economy (The Trust). The Trust primarily acts as a nutrient bank to incentivize ecosystem services restoration.

Partners/Cooperators include:

  • Rappahannock River Basin Commission
  • VDOF
  • VDEQ
  • Water Stewardship, Inc.
  • Virginia Tech
  • Resources for the Future
  • Working Lands Investment Partners, LLC
  • Eco Assets Markets, Inc.
  • Public Policy of Virginia
  • Kathy Harrigan
  • World Resources Institute
  • Conserv

The Nutrient Neutral Highway

Using the proposed George Washington Toll Road, this project will develop and design a pollution reduction offset and payment program that funds and neutralizes highway impact on the Bay.

Partners include:

  • Rappahannock River Basin Commission
  • City of Fredericksburg
  • Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization
  • George Washington Toll Road Authority
  • Conserv

The River Friendly Yard

This project will test the financial and environmental efficiencies of the retrofit of existing lawn to “River Friendly Yard” in Fredericksburg.

Partners include:

  • Rappahannock River Basin Commission
  • City of Fredericksburg
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Gentle Gardener Green Design
  • Landscape Designers
  • Landscape Architects
  • George Mason University
  • Conserv

Rappahannock Energy and Environmental Efficiency Project (REEEP)

REEEP will test a financial mechanism to link the City, County, and area institutional entities to provide cost effective pollution reduction and energy supply.

Partners include:

  • Rappahannock River Basin Commission
  • City of Fredericksburg
  • Caroline County
  • Ft. A.P. Hill
  • Public Policy of Virginia
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Hanover Caroline Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Conserv

Conservation Meadow Services

Conservation Meadow Services (CMS) is a new Conserv initiative that provides an alternative landscaping service for suburban homeowners in Charlottesville, Virginia, that includes design, installation, and maintenance of native plant meadows. CMS integrates landscaping and lawn care with conservation by educating the public about the environmental impacts of lawn care and providing a cost-effective, environmentally responsible, and aesthetically pleasing alternative to mowed grass.

The Process

1. The first step is to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with our team. We’ll perform a careful site analysis to determine the wildflower and grass species best suited to the soil type, light availability, and slope of your location. At this time we will also devise a case-by-case cost estimate and maintenance plan for you. After your consultation, we’ll demarcate the portion of your lawn you’d like to have converted to meadow (however large or small!), and we ask that you stop mowing that area.

2. Over the next 4-6 weeks (depending on rainfall predictions and seedling availability) our team will plant native seedlings on site. Different seed packages will result in meadows of different height, density, and color, so your meadow can be designed in some ways for your wants and needs.

3. Your meadow will require less water than a traditional lawn, but watering during dry periods is necessary to ensure the survival of the seedlings, especially during the first season. Should your meadow be unsuccessful due to drought after the first year, we offer replanting at a significant discount.

4. In late winter, your meadow will require an annual mowing. Establishing a full, diverse, and idyllic meadow usually takes several years as the native plants reseed, establish root systems, and as a meadow ecosystem is formed.


Cost is determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the size of the meadow site, the density of seedlings you’d like for us to install, which species you choose, and whether or not you are available to help with installation. The cost of installation can generally be offset by one year in savings on lawn maintenance. After the first season, maintenance costs are generally limited to an annual mowing in late winter.

Learn More

To learn more about meadow installation, contact John at (434) 296-9021 to schedule a free consultation and cost estimate.

2010 Initiatives

Forests to Faucets

The Forests to Faucets Initiative (F2F) will create a pilot process to link urban water consumers and rural landowners in a water supply reservoir serving Charlottesville, Virginia. The program features the development of a unique model to compare the efficiency of natural vs. built infrastructure to enhance four ecosystem services to retain nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment , and summer baseflow into the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. Should the project reveal that conservation is a more efficient mechanism than constructed public works projects such as dredging and new dam construction, water utilities with reservoirs threatened with nutrient enrichment or siltation may seek ways to fund conservation as a more cost efficient path to water quality enhancement.

Contact Conserv Director of Research Dr. Nick Evans at for more information.

Rappahannock Exchange

The Rappahannock Exchange is a pilot economic platform to incentivize the sale of Bay-friendly products and ecosystem services in the Rappahannock River Basin of Central Virginia. The Initiative, launched in 2009, aims to increase the Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P) buffering capacity of the watershed through the creation of ecosystem services projects while reducing the sources of N and P through targeted product and service marketing and tracking projects.  The multi-year Initiative features the development of a watershed-wide Nutrient Cooperative or Utility to manage the watershed’s nitrogen and phosphorus cycles and a Marketplace facilitating the transaction of products and services that will help meet federal water pollution goals.

Contact Director of Marketplace Development “Buzz” Van Santvoord at for more information.

Association for Conservation Real Estate

The Association of Conservation Real Estate began in 2006 as a pilot project in Charlottesville, Virginia to facilitate conservation through day to day real estate transactions. From 2007-2009 approximately 2 dozen real estate professionals were trained to become American Conservation Brokers through the Association’s American Conservation Broker certification and training program. This year, Conserv will open a new Chapter in Atlanta, Georgia with a rebranding and expanded focus for The Association – as a clearinghouse for the exchange of information between real estate and conservation professionals in the Southeast.

Contact Director of Real Estate Pam Sunderland at for more information.

The image shown on the homepage is a tribute to Dr. Gretchen Daly, author of Nature’s Services. Conserv ‘s theoretical foundation is based to a significant degree on the continuing work of Dr. Daly.

2006-2009 Programs

Deep Green Classifieds

Deep Green Classifieds is a first-generation environmental assets and ecosystem services classified advertising site. All listings are free. The purpose of Deep Green is to help parties that engage in conservation make money. Technically, Deep Green currently focuses on what the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment labels Cultural and Provisioning Ecosystem Services—those services that we humans utilize for recreation and spiritual pursuits and those we use for production of food and water. These services have been monetized to varying degrees. Conserv is working with other governmental and NGO partners to create marketplaces for other categories of ecosystem services, such as Regulating (control of climate and disease), Supporting (nutrient cycles and crop pollination), and Preserving (maintenance of biological diversity).

Deep Green brings together conservation-minded persons and organizations in search of:

  • Leasing and sale of recreational rights;
  • Leasing and sale of food, fiber, water, energy, and water rights;
  • Recreational services wanted;
  • Food, fiber, energy, and water rights wanted;
  • Properties with environmental assets for sale;
  • Properties with environmental assets wanted;
  • Conservation jobs;
  • Conservation/preservation services offered, and
  • Conservation/preservation services wanted.

Conservation Real Estate

Conserv™ defines Conservation Real Estate as property that currently has or will have approved stewardship practices. Only American Conservation Brokers or other special listings approved by Conserv staff can be listed as Conservation Real Estate.

Broker Education

Conserv™ has created the American and International Conservation Broker training programs. These certifications provide instruction to brokers and agents about the ethical, scientific, and procedural dimensions of conservation real estate transactions. The entire American Conservation Broker certification is available as an on-line curriculum. Only properties listed by American Conservation Brokers or authorized by specially authorized by Conserv staff have listings appearing on the homepage.

Join Conserv

Are you interested in utilizing the Conserv logo for business purposes? Membership in Conserv costs $10.00 per year. Members receive access to Conserv logos, stationary, etc.

General Public Education

Conserv™ has created an on-line blog and Sustainability Blackboard that provides an educational forum to buyers, sellers, land trusts, conservation organizations, governmental agencies, and the general public to discuss any market-based conservation topic. These forums explain the principles of private property marketplace conservation, the techniques to use the listing function, and the success stories of buyers, sellers, and brokers that have used Conserv to protect our natural heritage. The public may also join Conserv™ and as a member have access to downloadable education and marketing resources unavailable to the general public.


Conserv is a 501 c-6 non-profit U.S. corporation and owns the American  Conservation Broker Certification program and related environmental asset and ecosystem service marketplaces. Conserv’s staff is advised by a volunteer Board of Directors. Conserv™ has evolved out of the realization that government and non-profit organizations must identify new conservation strategies to more fully protect our planet’s biological diversity. To do this, our economy must move toward a far greater degree of ecological-friendliness. The thinking behind Conserv™ is based on the writings of Dr. Herman Daly (For the Common Good and Beyond Growth), on Sustainable Development research conducted by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission in Charlottesville, Virginia in the 1990s, on sustainable development educational programs conducted by the Environmental Education Center, a former 501-c-3 non-profit educational center also in Charlottesville, and prototype conservation real estate sales experiences of Conserv™ Staff and Board REALTORS in 2004-2007.