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Energy Plan Sets Ambitious Goals With Few Local Mandates

by ARLnow.com February 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm 3,547 17 Comments

A draft copy of Arlington’s Community Energy Plan sets the ambitious goal of reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions from 13.4 metric tons per county resident today to 3 metric tons per resident by 2050. Getting there, however, will almost entirely rely on factors outside of the county’s regulatory control.

Residents and businesses will not be “required” by the county to do much of anything under the plan, which is now being finalized by the county’s Community Energy and Sustainability Task Force. Most of the savings are expected to come in the form of voluntary gains in building efficiency and from new federal and state mandates.

The plan calls for homes and commercial buildings undergoing “major renovation” past 2015 to be 30 and 50 percent more efficient, respectively, than current structures. By 2050, the efficiency standards will increase to 50 percent for homes and 70 percent for commercial buildings, compared to current averages.

While such requirements could eventually be built into Virginia’s building code, state law prevents Arlington from enacting requirements unilaterally.

“The recommendations we have here are essentially in recognition that we are in a Dillon Rule state,” said Richard Dooley, the county’s project manager for the Community Energy Plan. Barring action from the state, Dooley says the county will encourage adoption of its recommendations by “mak[ing] sure these things make good economic sense.”

The county will promote the energy cost savings of efficiency gains, Dooley said. Arlington will create a database of federal, state, foundation and local incentives for energy efficiency projects, making it easier for homeowners and business owners to find incentives that apply to them.

Another task force recommendation is to encourage Arlington homeowners to install renewable heating systems, including solar and geothermal water heaters.

“At least 50 percent of domestic hot water needs and 20 percent of space and pool heating needs should be provided by these renewable sources,” the draft report states. So far, the actual means for achieving the goal are not specified.

Among the other task force recommendations:

  • The creation of a net-zero energy “scale project” consisting of “a small mixed-use neighborhood at least 100 homes built to energy standards outlined by the Passive House Institute.”
  • A reduction of vehicle miles traveled by “developing walkable mixed-use neighborhoods” and encouraging “cylcing, walking, public transit and vehicle pooling.”
  • The creation of steam plants in high-density neighborhoods. The plants would provide a central source “heating, cooling, and hot water services” in areas like Crystal City/Pentagon City, Rosslyn/Courthouse, Ballston/Virginia Square and parts of Columbia Pike.
  • Increased use of solar panels on public and private buildings.
  • Increased use of biofuels.
  • “Supporting… federal efforts” to increase vehicle fuel efficiency standards.
  • Encouraging building owners to display “Energy Performance Labels” in building lobbies.
  • Providing public education and training about energy efficiency.

According to the task force, its recommendations are “designed to ensure that Arlington’s citizens have cleaner, reliable, affordable energy in the years ahead, and that our County remains a competitive place for business and an attractive place to live and work.”

The report’s authors believe that further greenhouse gas reductions are possible if Arlington can convince its neighbors to cooperate. The task force is striving to reach annual emissions of 2.2 metric tons per resident by 2015 “through comprehensive regional coordination and cooperation,” Dooley said.

The task force is expected to send its recommendations to the county board on March 11, with board action possible by May. Following adoption by the board (which looks to be a virtual certainty), the county would then work to come up with a final implementation plan.

Flickr pool photo (top) by Alykat

  • the usual rightwing dolt


    • JimPB

      Sorry, “the usual rightwing dolt,” but the Arl Co plan, which relies largely on voluntary action, doesn’t meet the “ownership” criteria for “socialism” — see dictionary definition below. The plan does recognize the scientific consensus concerning climate change and future increases in the cost of energy.

      Dictionary definition of Socialism (Note: Caps added for “ownership”)

      [soh-shuh-liz-uhm] Show IPA
      a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the OWNERSHIP and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

      • the usual rightwing dolt

        I’m a dolt, remember? Anything I don’t like, I call socialism. Strawberry ice cream? Socialism! Justin Beiber? Socialism!

    • read comment just to see right wing dolt

      Thank you for your obliging.

  • Overgrown Bush

    “through comprehensive regional coordination and cooperation”, or maybe we’ll just file suit.

  • Since the county can’t really do anything, then why are we paying for this task force?

    • local

      Are we paying for it?

      • The County is facilitiating this, so the taxpayers are footing the bill

        • Arlwhenever

          County has a passel of consultants working on this — even the original cap and trade Enron guy.

          • mehoo

            Got details?

        • mehoo

          “Facilitating” costs money? Not necessarily.

  • Simple.

    This seems like a great idea!

  • DaveinSA

    We should be ashamed. As a fairly educated and compensated County, less than 100 residents, according to Dominion, participate in the 100% Green option for their utilities bill (2009 data). This option adds about 13-15 % to your bill.

    I contacted this task force and did receive an email that they may want to include me in their group. Nothing heard.

    All show just like cross walk enforcement.

    Typical Arl County — no substance – just show.

  • Tom Lang

    The County can start their energy awareness by turning off the field lights at Yorktown that stay on til 9.00 PM every night regardless of the weather. Turn Off the Lights and save.

  • WalterEchols

    I spend quite a bit of time recruiting and placing people in the right positions…and there are loads of displaced skilled construction trades-people out there. I’ve been getting a heavy increase in requests for those skilled in geothermal heating and cooling trades…this includes HVAC, plumbers, well drillers and electricians. So I’ve been looking for the schools or the pool from which I can pull them. A local college has started a comprehensive Green Trades Curruculum, so I checked out their book selection. Wow!~ I’ve gotta tell you, I picked up Geothermal HVAC, and didn’t set it down for two solid days…and I don’t like to read… Maybe it’s my job (the recruiting thing), but this book rocks…better yet, I’d stake my career on this technology being the next really big thing…like dot-com big…
    Here’s the thing; the colleges and trade schools are picking this book up, because it lays out decades of technology in real, simple and fun language with lots of pics. I learned what I needed to, without having to learn the, “square root of the inverse of the fluid flow…” Google “Geothermal Book”


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