As of 2011, Rich Collins is an elected member of the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District, representing the City of Charlottesville. Collins also serves as the TJSWCD representative on the Rivanna River Basin Commission.
Collins served as Chair of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority and the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority from 2001 to 2002. The City of Charlottesville issued a proclamation honoring his service at their meeting on March 3, 2003.
Collins serves on the board of Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population. He is also a member of the group Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan and serves on the Rivanna River Basin Commission.
Collins joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in 1974 and later became the first chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning in the School of Architecture. In 1980, Collins founded the Institute for Environmental Negotiation at UVa and served as director for almost two decades.