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Fisette to Speak at Anti-Plastic Bag Event

by Ethan Rothstein | March 11, 2014 at 10:45 am | 1,210 views | No Comments

County Board Chair Jay FisetteArlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette will be a speaker this Thursday at the showing of a film that examines the impact that plastic bags and other plastic products have on the environment.

The film, called “Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic?” will be presented at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. The event is hosted by Tap In Arlington, a grassroots organization campaigning against single-use plastic water bottles.

Fisette launched a “personal crusade” against plastic bottles last year, is a supporter of Tap In and debated a bottled water industry executive in January. Fisette will speak alongside the film’s director and star, Jeb Berrier.

In promotional material, the film is described as “touching and often flat-out-funny” and Berrier is said to be an “everyman… who is admittedly not a tree hugger.”

Tickets for the event are $10 at the door, or $5 for students and seniors.

Electric Car Charger Installed in Clarendon

by Ethan Rothstein | August 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm | 1,394 views | No Comments

Updated Sept. 5 at 9:00 a.m.

Drivers of electric cars will soon be able to charge up in Clarendon.

The parking lot of the Walgreens Pharmacy at 2825 Wilson Blvd is the site of Arlington’s newest electric car charging station, and it will be operational in about a month.

The station has multiple charging ports for all types of electric cars, including one that charges some cars in 20 minutes. Those interested in using the chargers can buy a monthly subscription from eVgo, the company that owns the ports and is installing about 50 of them around the Washington area in the next several years.

A two-hour charger can be used for a $5-per-month subscription, while the 20-minute charger subscription starts at $20 per month.

There are already electric car charging stations at the Hilton Crystal City and Rosslyn Gateway buildings (part of a competing charger network), stations in Shirlington and at Pentagon Row, and stations in Vornado properties in Crystal City. The Clarendon station is eVgo’s first in the county.

County Fair to Host New Recycling Program

by Ethan Rothstein | August 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm | 704 views | No Comments

Keep America Beautiful recycling campaignThis week’s Arlington County Fair will include a new recycling initiative.

The Keep America Beautiful recycling campaign and the Alcoa Foundation will place 30 new, well-marked recycling bins throughout the fairgrounds.

Arlington is one of only three fairs in the country to host the campaign, which will also feature a booth at the fair where a team of “recycling ambassadors” will answer visitors’ questions, according to a program spokeswoman.

The Arlington County Fair starts Wednesday and runs through Sunday, Aug. 11, at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, (3501 2nd Street S).

Photo courtesy of Keep America Beautiful

Priuses Vandalized in Tire-Slashing Spree

by ARLnow.com | July 22, 2013 at 11:45 am | 6,428 views | No Comments

Sixteen vehicles, mostly Toyota Prius hybrids, had their tires slashed in Arlington overnight.

Tires were slashed on 10 vehicles in the Waverly Hills and Cherrydale areas, on we’re told. Most were Toyota Priuses, though at least one was a smart car, which is another gas-sipping vehicle popular with environmentally-conscious drivers.

Another 5 Priuses had their tires slashed in the area of Barcroft Park in south Arlington, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Additionally, tires were slashed on an Arlington County-owned Ford F-150 pickup truck.

Between 1 and 4 tires were slashed on each vehicle, Sternbeck said. The vandalism spree is believed to have happened overnight. So far, there’s no indication that anyone spotted the vandals in the act.

“It wasn’t noted until people starting waking up to go to work,” Sternbeck said. Police are investigating the crime.

Arlington is no stranger to tire-slashing sprees. In 2010, police investigated two separate vandalism sprees that saw the tires slashed on some 50 vehicles. A suspect was later arrested and convicted of the crimes.

Board to Consider Hearings for Energy Plan

by ARLnow.com | May 13, 2013 at 3:45 pm | 755 views | No Comments

The Arlington County Board is expected to vote this weekend to hold public hearings on the county’s proposed Community Energy Plan.

A draft of the ambitious plan calls for Arlington to significantly decrease energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through a series of six goals and 14 policies. The goals include:

  • “Buildings will be up to 60 percent more energy efficient, saving residents, tenants, and business owners on their energy bills.”
  • District energy systems will provide less expensive, more efficient cooling, heating and power to Arlingtonians in the highest-density development corridors.”
  • “Arlington will be a ‘solar leader’ by deploying 160 megawatts of solar photovoltaics, which will supply enough electricity to power 40,000 homes.”
  • “Arlington’s transportation infrastructure will be refined and expanded, providing residents and workers with more travel choices.”
  • “Arlington County Government will lead by example, reducing energy costs by improving fleet and building efficiencies.”
  • “Arlingtonians will rethink their energy use, taking advantage of new technologies to reduce personal energy consumption.”

Among the individual policies are:

  • Enforcing higher energy efficiency standards in the building code (requires state legislative approval)
  • Facilitating the creation and use of a district energy system with more than 100 megawatts of combined heat and power generation
  • Reducing County government CO2 emissions by 76% by 2050 through various strategies
  • Reducing automobile pollution by buying more efficient vehicles for the county fleet and requiring more efficient taxis
  • Deploying modern traffic control technologies to reduce vehicle idling times
  • Providing public recognition of people and organizations that help Arlington reach its energy goals.

The plan, county officials say, would improve Arlington’s business competitiveness, provide energy security, and help the environment.

The County Board is expected to vote this weekend to advertise a series of two public hearings which will be held in advance of Board consideration of the plan itself. The Board’s agenda item calls for the Planning Commission to hold a public hearing on June 3, and for the County Board to hold a hearing on June 15.

Arlington’s Air Gets ‘F’ Grade for Smog

by ARLnow.com | April 24, 2013 at 4:10 pm | 533 views | No Comments

Air pollution charts via stateoftheair.orgThe state of Arlington’s air is not very good, according to the American Lung Association.

The organization released its annual State of the Air report today and Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax and the District of Columbia earned an “F” grade for ozone pollution — also known as smog. The D.C. area as a whole ranked as the 9th most-polluted city in the nation for smog, up from 13th last year and 14th in 2011.

Arlington received a “B” grade for 24-hour particle pollution, meanwhile, which is better than the District’s “C” grade.

The report suggests that the D.C. area has improved in terms of particle pollution in recent years.

“The air in Washington, DC is certainly cleaner than when we started the ‘State of the Air’ report 14 years ago,” said Kimberly Williams, Advocacy and Communications Manager for the American Lung Association, in a press release. “Even though the area experienced increases in unhealthy days of high ozone, the air quality is still better compared to a decade ago. But the work is not done, and we must set stronger health standards for pollutants and cleanup sources of pollution in the D.C. area to protect the health of our citizens.”

The full press release, after the jump.

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Girl Scouts Build Garden to Feed Animals

by Katie Pyzyk | April 19, 2013 at 10:45 am | 831 views | No Comments

Girl Scouts build garden for AWLA Girl Scouts build garden for AWLA

Earth Day apparently isn’t just for humans. The animals at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (2650 Arlington Mill Drive) in Shirlington will be getting a special treat in recognition of the day.

Girl Scout Troop 1251 from Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in Falls Church has been helping to construct a “small companion animal garden” at the shelter. Animals at the shelter including rabbits, guinea pigs and birds will soon be able to munch on the fresh, organic produce that will be grown in the garden.

The scouts will put the final touches on the garden on Monday, which is Earth Day. At that time, they will finish planting the produce such as cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, parsley and carrots.

Open House for Green ‘Pipestem’ Home

by ARLnow.com | April 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm | 2,950 views | No Comments

A new green home, once the subject of a neighborhood controversy, is now up for sale.

The home at 2617 N. Nottingham Street, in the Leeway neighborhood, was built on a so-called pipestem lot — a parcel carved from the back of a larger lot, connected to the street only by a narrow “pipestem” driveway.

Plans for the home’s construction initially caused a neighborhood “uproar,” as reported by the Washington Post in February 2012. Existing residents strongly objected to the house being built behind their own homes. Ultimately, a compromise was reached following discussions between neighbors and home builder Arlington Designer Homes, and the controversy died down.

Now, with construction complete, Arlington Designer Homes is hosting an open house at 2617 N. Nottingham Street. The open house, for both prospective buyers and interested residents, is taking place on Sunday, April 7, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The home’s asking price is $1.1 million.

In a press release, the company touts the building as “one of the greenest houses in the county.” Its green features include a “living green roof and an advanced storm water management system.”

The new 3,100 square foot, 4 bedroom, 3 ½ bath home, located at 2617 N. Nottingham St., is the first house built under Arlington County’s Use Permit process, established after the county changed its zoning ordinances for pipestem lots. The permit process included extensive collaboration among the builder, Arlington Designer Homes, county staff, neighbors and community members, and resulted in a green design that is truly one of a kind.

Responding to county and neighborhood priorities, Arlington Designer Homes committed to extensive storm water management techniques and practices. “Our new home showcases what in-fill construction of the future will look like,” said Andrew Moore, President of Arlington Designer Homes. “In fact, the lot will produce less storm water runoff post-construction than it did prior to development.”

“These storm water management techniques include multiple rain gardens, native plants and grasses, permeable pavers and a living green roof,” said Moore, a Certified Green Professional. “The Liveroof® system is a modular system where sedum plants that serve to absorb rain and protect the roof are grown in trays and then transported to the building site ready to go. The advantage to this system is that you can install a fully planted green roof in a day.”

The house also features an advanced insulation package including both cellulose and spray foam insulation, Energy Star Jeld-wen windows, a high-efficiency furnace with a heat pump, 1.28 gallon per flush toilets, pre-finished flooring and siding, and PVC trim for a low maintenance exterior. It will be certified under the Energy Star 3.0, Arlington County Green Home Choice, and Home Innovation NGBS Green Certified programs (expected).

Photos courtesy Arlington Designer Homes

Fisette to Moderate ‘Say NO to Bottled H2O’ Forum

by ARLnow.com | April 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm | 1,535 views | 1 Comment

Bottled water (photo via Facebook)(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) County Board member Jay Fisette is starting his “personal crusade” to discourage bottled water use in Arlington, by moderating a public forum later this month.

Fisette will moderate and George Mason University’s Arlington campus will host “a special public forum to discuss the environmental and economic implications of single-use plastic water bottles,” from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Monday, April 15. The forum, entitled “Say NO to Bottled H2O,” will be held at GMU’s Founders Hall Auditorium (3351 Fairfax Drive).

Screen grab of County Board member Jay Fisette discussing Gov. McDonnell's transporation planIn addition to a panel discussion with environmental and water experts, the event will feature a screening of the documentary “Bag It,” which critically explores the use of single-use disposable bags. The forum is being co-sponsored by GMU, Arlington County, The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, Arlington Public Schools, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, Marymount University and the George Mason Environmental Law Society.

The forum is also the kick-off for a new grassroots organization called “Tap in Arlington,” which asks residents to “choose to drink tap water instead of purchasing single use plastic water bottles.”

The organization says 17 million barrels of oil are used to produce billions of single-use plastic water bottles annually, and less than 30 percent of those bottles are recycled. Bottled water is 2-4 times the price of gasoline, according to statistics cited by Tap in Arlington.

Fisette said the effort reflects the public commitment he made on New Years Day to bring attention to the use of bottled water and its environmental impacts.

“I raised the issue on January 1, stating that I would begin a ‘personal crusade’ to reduce the use of plastic water bottles,” Fisette said. “Well, the crusade is about to begin.”

Long Term County Energy Plan Revealed

by Katie Pyzyk | November 28, 2012 at 11:55 am | 2,658 views | 74 Comments

A draft of Arlington’s Community Energy Plan (CEP) has been revealed. If approved, it would provide a guide for transforming the way energy is used, generated and distributed in Arlington through 2050.

Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan presented the draft to the County Board members at Tuesday’s Board meeting. Developing the CEP has been part of a three year effort by county staff members, who consulted with energy experts, community leaders and businesses.

“Once again, Arlington is taking a leadership role in advancing a transformative Community Energy Plan that represents the next generation of smart growth and another visionary way to support a sustainable future for our community,” Donnellan said in a press release.

The goal of the CEP is to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 3.0 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per resident per year by 2050. That equates to a reduction of about 75% from current levels.

The CEP lists six primary areas in which the county intends to implement the plan: buildings, district energy, renewable energy, transportation, county government actions, and education and human behavior.

In a press release, the county listed a number of strategies for achieving the energy goals, including the following:

  • Improving by up to 60% the energy efficiency of newly constructed and renovated residential, commercial and civic buildings. Includes financial incentives for investment in energy efficiency upgrades.
  • Managing home and building operations to reduce energy costs. Arlington County will continue to lead by example, through its Arlington Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) program, and by partnering with Arlington Public Schools.
  • Creating district energy systems in the highest density development corridors. District energy, although not a new technology, has never been deployed on a community level by any jurisdiction in the Washington, D.C. area. The CEP calls for district energy and local cogeneration of power to provide about 40% of the County’s energy needs in 2050.
  • Deploying alternative energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic and other renewable energy systems. The CEP contains an ambitious goal for solar power: 160 megawatts of solar electricity by 2050; enough electricity to power 40,000 homes.
  • Refining and expanding transportation infrastructure and operations enhancements. The CEP envisions more people walking, biking and using transit and fewer cars on the roads, in addition to cleaner-burning vehicles.
  • Changing how people in our community think about energy, helping them to understand how to have an impact on energy consumption, and actually changing human behavior to transform how we consume energy.

County staff says a community benefit of the plan is a reduction in energy use, which would lower greenhouse gas emissions and create a more sustainable environment. Individuals and businesses would be able to use money saved on energy for other investments to improve their quality of life. Lower energy costs are also cited as directly affecting business’ bottom lines, which is expected to create a more competitive economic environment. Diversifying the local energy supply with alternative options like solar is expected to provide better energy reliability and supply security.

The Board will consider adopting the plan in June of 2013. If it’s approved, county staff would then begin implementation. Prior to adoption, there will be a number of meetings for the public to review the plan, ask questions and to offer feedback.

All-Electric, WiFi-Enabled Cabs Get Nod from County Manager

by ARLnow.com | October 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm | 6,280 views | 109 Comments

If the Arlington County Board goes along with a new set of recommendations from County Manager Barbara Donnellan, Arlington could soon be served by a fleet of 40 all-electric cabs equipped with 4G WiFi hotspots and iPads for passenger use.

As part of this year’s taxicab certificate allocation process, Donnellan is recommending that a total of 65 additional taxis be added to the county’s existing licensed fleet of 765 cabs. Among the companies receiving a recommended allocation from Donnellan is an Arlington-based upstart, EV Taxicabs.

The company is set to get permits to operate 40 cabs in Arlington under Donnellan’s recommendation. According to EV Taxicabs’ website and Facebook page, the cabs will be all-electric Nissan Leafs, a five-door hatchback that gets the equivalent of 99 miles per gallon.

In addition to being all-electric, the cabs will be equipped with a high-speed 4G WiFi hotspot and an Apple iPad, both for passenger use. The cabs will be dispatched using what’s described as a “state-of-the-art cloud-based dispatch solution… running on Samsung Galaxy 7 tablet.” Passengers will be able to book the cabs via smart phone or the company’s website.

In addition to the cabs, the company has pledged to install more than 50 electric vehicle chargers around Arlington.

Donnellan writes that based on a scale that considers various factors — including environmental impact, customer service, business feasibility and employee treatment — EV Taxicabs received the highest rating of any cab applicant. (Ten companies applied this year.)

Based on the rating system, EV Taxicab was rated the highest of all applicants. It will be installing a number of quick charge stations throughout the County that will be available to the general public as well as their drivers. This will encourage additional usage of zero emission vehicles, helping Arlington County to be a pioneer in this new technology.

The EV Taxicab applicant is a current Arlington County taxi driver. He is bringing his experience and wants to address and cooperate with County staff to improve the drivers’ profession. He proposes to provide training, two week annual vacation, health and fitness club membership, financial management training, customer service training, assistance with legal representation and is looking into providing life insurance for drivers. The EV Taxicab application impressed County staff through its use of technology and its apparent commitment to fair treatment for its drivers.

EV Taxicabs is not the only non-traditional cab company set to benefit from Donnellan’s recommendation. The “carbon-negative” EnviroCab company is set to receive 10 additional cab allocations. Separately, the company recently announced plans to add one all-electric Nissan Leaf to its current fleet of 49 hybrids.

Under the County Manager’s recommendations, Friendly Cab, Blue Top Cab and Red Top Cab will each be allowed to add five additional taxis to their fleet. The recommendations specify that Blue Top and Red Top are to add only wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Donnellan’s recommendations will be considered by the County Board at its Nov. 17 meeting.

County to Collect Hazardous and Unwanted Items

by Katie Pyzyk | October 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm | 2,686 views | 12 Comments

This weekend may be the perfect time to rid your house of unwanted items. Arlington County will hold its biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) on Saturday to allow for the safe disposal of hazardous household items.

Residents can drop of materials at the Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road) on Saturday, October 13, from 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Commercial and business waste will not be accepted.

An ID is required as proof of Arlington residency in order to drop off materials. There is no smoking allowed at the drop off site. A list of hazardous items that will be collected is listed below:

Acceptable Chemical Materials:

  • Paint Products (25 can limit)
  • Lawn & Garden Chemicals
  • Fuels/Petroleum Products
  • Flammable Solvents
  • Corrosives (acids/caustics)
  • Poisons (pesticides)
  • Automotive Fluids and Batteries
  • Car Care Products
  • Photographic Chemicals
  • Household Cleaners
  • Mercury
  • Propane Tanks
  • Fluorescent Lamps and Tubes
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Household Hazardous Materials

Unacceptable Chemical Materials:

  • Asbestos
  • Explosives and Ammunition
  • Freon
  • Compressed Gas Cylinders
  • Radioactive Materials
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Medical Waste

Mercury:

  • Covanta Energy will be providing a $5 gift card to all residents who drop off household devices containing mercury (thermostats, thermometers, sphygmomanometers, manometers, barometers, hygrometers and liquid mercury). Arlington County will be collecting CFLs at E-CARE, but they are excluded from Covanta’s $5 rebate offer.

For a full list of other items that will be accepted — including bicycles, electronics, clothing, eyeglasses and hearing aids — log on to the E-CARE website.

A representative with Boy Scout Troop 505 tells ARLnow.com that boy scouts will be at the E-CARE event from 8:30 a.m. until noon to collect unusable American flags for retirement and proper disposal at a ceremony later this month.

Free Tree Distribution on Saturday

by Katie Pyzyk | October 10, 2012 at 9:45 am | 3,661 views | 75 Comments

The leaves may already be falling, but there’s an opportunity for you to green up your neighborhood this weekend. The county is giving away free trees to Arlington residents.

All of the trees, referred to as whips, are native to Virginia. They’re distributed in one, two or three gallon containers and typically range in height from two to four feet.

Representatives from the Arlington County Landscape staff and from TreeStewards will be on hand to offer planting guidelines and tree care tips. They can also explain characteristics of each tree species.

Distribution will take place from 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. on Saturday (October 13) at the Arlington County nursery facility. It is located behind the baseball field at S. George Mason Drive and Four Mile Run. Parking is available in the lot in front of the field.

Each residential property is allotted one free tree; multi-family properties should email info@treestewards.org to obtain extra trees. Those interested in picking up a tree on Saturday should register online for a particular species. The spice bushes are sold out, but the remaining species are as follows:

  • American beech
  • American holly
  • Red oak
  • American basswood
  • Hophornbeam
  • Hornbeam
  • Sassafras
  • Persimmon

For questions, email Environmental Landscape Supervisor Patrick Wegeng at pwegeng@arlingtonva.us.

Power Plant Closure May Improve Arlington’s Air

by ARLnow.com | October 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm | 3,392 views | 91 Comments

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) The closure of a power plant in Alexandria may help improve air quality in Arlington.

The GenOn Potomac River Generating Station, a 63-year-old coal-fired power plant on the Potomac River, north of Old Town Alexandria, permanently shut down this week. The plant closed after dogged efforts by local residents and environmental activists, who argued the 482-megawatt plant was harming local air quality and endangering residents.

The Washington Post called the plant the “largest single source of air pollution in the Washington region.” The plant’s smokestacks emitted fine particulate matter and sulfur dioxide, occasionally at levels that could temporarily harm sensitive individuals, according to a recent air quality study.

Jeff Harn, the Bureau Chief of Arlington’s Office of Sustainability and Environmental Management, said the plant’s closure is a positive development for local air quality.

“I think generally it’s a good thing,” he told ARLnow.com. “We sort of look at that plant as a regional source of air pollution. It affects the whole region. [The closure] would be beneficial, I’m sure.”

At a press conference on Monday, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said the closing of the plant will benefit the health of local residents.

“Today marks the conclusion of a long fought but well won victory for Northern Virginia residents and the health of citizens in the National Capital Region,” he said. “What once was the largest stationary source of air pollution in the metro area will be no more. With the extinction of this dinosaur, our air will be cleaner. As much as 600,000 fewer tons of carbon dioxide, 1.9 million lbs of nitrogen oxide, and 325,000 lbs of sulfur dioxide will be in the air we breathe.”

Harn said the areas closest to the plant — parts of Alexandria, as well as parts of South Arlington and Crystal City — should see some air quality improvement as a result of the plant’s closure. D.C. should also benefit, he said, as prevailing winds often carried the plant’s emissions across the Potomac and into the District.

Since there is not much heavy industry in the area, Harn says most of the air pollution in the D.C. area is transportation-related — from sources like cars, buses and airplanes.

Flickr pool photo by Afagen

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