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In our area it seems like every September there’s a stretch of perfect late-summer or early-fall weather, with sunny skies and comfortable temperatures.

And it appears we have just entered such a stretch.

The ten-day forecast currently includes no rain, and a range of high temperatures between 75-84 degrees. Granted, such stretches are often too fleeting, but — it sure is nice while it lasts.

Today’s kickoff of the D.C. area’s Nice September Stretch follows an extended period of awful weather. Deluges of rain, storms that knock out power, and borderline unbearable combinations of heat and humidity in between. It felt like it was never going to end.

With our weather dreams coming true, albeit temporarily, we were wondering just how excited locals were about it. Beyond extended stretches of nice weather being a bit… well, boring… there’s also a thought given to the need to water plants, wash the car, etc. if it stays dry for too long.

And, just how much do locals care about the weather after all? If we really prioritized warm temperatures and sunny skies to go along with the expensive real estate, wouldn’t more of us be packing up and moving to Southern California?

Given the national picture — destruction caused by Hurricane Ida and deadly floods and devastating wildfires — we should be counting our weather blessings. This is not to minimize the suffering of those recently affected by severe weather, which top scientists say is being made worse by climate change.

But sticking to our local reality here in Arlington, this morning we’re wondering just how jazzed everyone is for our run of September weather perfection.

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A North Arlington neighborhood is on alert after someone deflated tires on at least five SUVs in the name of environmental justice.

The incident happened after midnight on Friday, June 18, along the 4600 block of 37th Street N. in the Old Glebe neighborhood.

“At approximately 12:45 a.m. on June 18, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle tampering,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim’s two vehicles, which were parked in their driveway, had air pressure released from the rear driver side tire.”

“Officers canvassed the area and located three additional vehicles with tampered tire pressure,” Savage continued. “A flyer, allegedly left by the ‘Climate Liberation Front,’ was located on the windshield of the involved vehicles. The investigation is ongoing.”

As mentioned on a Nextdoor thread about the tire deflations, the note left on the vehicles (below) was almost identical to that left on SUVs in Sweden in 2007.

We have deflated one or several tyres of your SUV. Don’t take it personally. It’s your car we don’t like. You are certainly aware of the large amount of fuel it consumes. so we don’t have to enlighten you about that. But either you are ignorant of, or you don’t care about the fact that all the gas you consume by driving around in your SUV in the streets of the city has devastating consequences for others.

Scientists are entirely sure that we are very close to pushing climate change over a threshold, into a phase where it will be totally out of control and cause irreversible damage.

When the glaciers melt, people’s source of water disappear. When the deserts spread. agricultural fields become uncultivable. When the sea level rises, homes are inundated. Result: billions of refugees, countless deaths. It’s already estimated that 150,000 people die every year due to the effects of climate change, according to the WHO. As an affluent American you will survive longer then [sic] most. Those most vulnerable, and already worst afflicted by the global warming caused by Northern affluence, are the people of poor countries. In the end, however. climate chaos will affect us all, poor people as well as rich.

This does not have to happen if we impose a radical cut on carbon emissions. Now. Not tomorrow. That’s why we have disarmed your SUV by deflating the tires. Since you live in a city with a functioning and accessible public transportation system you will have no problem going where you want without your SUV.

Climate Liberation Front

@FrontClimate on Twitter

A tweet from the Twitter account of the “Climate Liberation Front,” sent before the tire deflation spree, said the action was “only the beginning.”

“Some new wannabe eco-terror bullsh–,” said a tipster who contacted ARLnow.

Savage said the police department has so far had no other reports of similar incidents. The department encourages anyone whose vehicle has been tampered with to call the Arlington non-emergency line at 703-558-2222 or to file a police report online.

The tire deflations attracted more than two dozen comments on Nextdoor. Some questioned the wisdom of inconveniencing residents as a method of fighting climate change.

“Do they think you’ll just wake up with flat tires and buy a Prius?” one person asked.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Shirlington Gateway. The new 2800 Shirlington recently delivered a brand-new lobby and upgraded fitness center, and is adding spec suites with bright open plans and modern finishes. Experience a prime location and enjoy being steps from Shirlington Village.

(Updated 9:30 p.m.) Ballston-based Fluence is ramping up its efforts to tackle climate change with energy storage systems for renewable energy.

The energy storage company was founded three years ago this month as the joint venture of Berlin-based Siemens and Arlington-based Fortune 500 company, AES Corp. It enjoyed torrid growth over the course of 2020: About 100 staff came on, including a new CEO, and it acquired a company in October.

This year is off to a great start, too, with a pledge of $125 million in investment from the Qatar Investment Authority.

“We have been experiencing an enormous growth since the inception of the company,” said Vice President of Strategy Marek Wolek.

Fluence develops batteries that store energy from wind and solar. Since 2018, Fluence had quadrupled the amount of energy storage it has deployed or is working on, from 600 megawatts to 2,400 megawatts. It has deployed or been awarded contracts for storage in 24 countries.

The work is “a little bit more complicated” than just batteries, however, Wolek said. It also makes sure the supply of natural, renewable energy can be converted into enough electricity to meet demands, without leading to surges in electricity or deficits for customers.

“That’s extremely valuable, and makes the whole energy grid stable,” Wolek said.

But to keep up in a rapidly innovating market, the company started seeking out investing partners about six months ago, he  said.

“How we effectively create a grid of future requires investments,” he said. “The mark is moving very fast: We have to make sure the technology is easier and faster, and efficient to use, for our customers.”

With the $125 million from Qatar Investment Authority, a founding member of the One Planet Sovereign Wealth Fund Initiative, which invests government funds into climate change solutions. Fluence will be investing in hardware and software, as well as staff to further develop the battery technology, he said.

In a statement, CEO Manuel Perez Dubuc said tackling climate change requires both technology and investment worldwide.

“We see energy storage as the linchpin of a decarbonized grid and adding QIA to our international shareholder base will allow Fluence to innovate even faster and address the enormous global market for large-scale battery-based energy storage.”

Dubuc came on as CEO in May 2020, after serving on the company’s board. He switches roles with Stephen Coughlin, who now sits on the board, said Director of Communications Alison Mickey.

He and the newly hired 100 staff members grew the company’s workforce to more than 300 worldwide.

In October, the company bought Advanced Microgrid Solutions, which develops AI bidding software for batteries and other tech for storing and generating renewably sourced electricity. The merger will help to improve energy storage, grid reliability and efficiency, Wolek said.

Fluence is headquartered at 4601 N. Fairfax Drive, and has offices in San Francisco, suburban Atlanta, Germany and Australia.

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Following weeks of fallout from the July 8 storm, Arlington officials are discussing a new program for tackling future floods.

During Tuesday’s County Board meeting, County Manager Mark Schwartz introduced “Flood Resilient Arlington,” to be considered during the spring budget planning.

Demetra McBride, who heads the Department of Environmental Services (DES) Sustainability and Environmental Management bureau, said Flood Resilient Arlington will include educational forums, site visits, and a potential flood-resilience incentive program to help the county prepare for increasingly extreme weather caused by climate change.

The program “builds upon” the 2014 Stormwater Master Plan, which outlined improvements to Arlington’s stormwater management systems, streams, and watersheds over the next 20 years, according to DES Chief Operating Officer Mike Moon.

“We hear about climate change, and it always seems to be somewhere else,” said Vice Board Chair Libby Garvey. “People tend to think and accuse the government of not doing something right, they don’t buy the climate change reason, so we have a level of education we [owe].”

Funding for Flood Resilient Arlington will not be established for “eight to nine months,” said Moon.

The next steps include approximately 80 visits from Board members beginning this month to sites deemed a “high risk” for flooding, or homes that received more than four feet of water during the July 8 storm. During the Tuesday presentation, McBride listed several neighborhoods — such as Waverley Hills, Westover, and Rock Spring — as high risk for future flooding based on past data. She highlighted steps homeowners can take to stay dry.

“I realize this is emotional for people, your home is a big investment,” McBride said. “They have families and children and they’re concerned for their safety.”

Two public forums to discuss the program are planned: one on Thursday, October 24 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street), and another on Saturday, October 26 from 10 a.m.- 12 p.m. at George Mason University’s Arlington campus (3351 Fairfax Drive.)

During the meetings, the public can expect to:

  • Hear from experts on flood-proof design
  • Learn about flood insurance options and coverage
  • Learn about how to flood-proof your house

McBride stressed homeowners need to educate themselves on flood insurance policies, also noting the county needs to step in with educational resources.

Several residents told ARLnow in the flood’s aftermath they had received conflicting information about their eligibility for flood insurance and were left fearing they would have to bear tens of thousands of dollars in repair costs.

During the disaster, dozens of residents fled their homes, a few beloved Arlington businesses closed for repairs, six pedestrian bridges were washed away, and thousands of dollars were raised on platforms such as GoFundMe. The county stated days later it would not cover any sewage overflow damage caused by the flood, telling ARLnow it would violate state law.

Since then, residents have applied for over $2.1 million in U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans, Schwartz shared, and Arlington businesses have applied for more than $100,000 in loans. Applicants can still file for a loan by Monday, October 7.

“During a majority of the 1,100 damage reports [this summer], people had insurance and thought they were protected, and then they realized there were exemptions and exclusions,” said McBride. “That’s a gap we would help to close.”

In addition to damage to private property, Arlington County reported $5.8 million in damage to county property and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall reported damage to 26 buildings.

McBride said Arlington will have to slowly overhaul its public infrastructure through several long-term projects — like upgrading the stormwater pipes, developing large tanks for water storage, and property acquisition — to help address the flood risk.

“These [will require] long-term disruption of neighborhoods,” she said. “I wish we could avoid that, but we’re simply not going to be able to and that’s going to be a partnership we need to have with the public.”

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Morning Notes

Climate Change Protests in D.C.Updated at 8:45 a.m. — As expected, demonstrator are blocking a number of key intersections in D.C. this morning to protest against government inaction in tackling climate change. The roadblocks have caused major backups on northbound I-395. [WTOP, Twitter]

APS Implements New Verification System — “Arlington school officials say a new, higher-tech effort to gather requisite start-of-school information from parents is moving forward as expected. The new online-verification process has been completed by 54 percent of families as of Sept. 19, Superintendent Cintia Johnson told School Board members.” [InsideNova]

County Board Approves Pike Redevelopment — “A new six-story apartment building and ground floor retail will replace an aging shopping center and surface parking lot at the northeast corner of South Glebe Road and Columbia Pike, under a plan approved today by the Arlington County Board.” [Arlington County]

Worker Hurt Friday in Madison Manor — “Scanner: ACFD on scene of a worker who fell out of a tree on the 900 block of N. Potomac Street in Madison Manor. Being transported by ambulance to a local trauma center with potentially serious but non-life threatening injuries.” [Twitter]

Post Praises Swell Sausages at Ballston’s Bronson — “The five kinds of housemade sausages emerged from the kitchen tinkerings of Barley Mac chef Chris Harman and co-owner Mike Cordero, Koh says. Both the bratwurst and the wiener, reminiscent of a hot dog that spent a semester abroad, have a pleasantly snappy casing and a peppery pungency. The Bronson is rightly proud of its sausages, which are available to-go from a case at the front.” [Washington Post]

Ballston Harris Teeter Design Event — “Come share your thoughts on the consolidated design for the public space at Harris Teeter on N. Glebe Rd at an open house Mon., Sept. 23 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the Arlington Room at the Medstar Capitals Iceplex (accessible from the 8th floor). This design is based on prior community feedback. Don’t forget your sweater! The Arlington Room is next to the rink and you might get a little chilly.” [Arlington County]

APS Trying to Fix Bus Issues — “Arlington school officials continue to work out start-of-school transportation kinks, with a goal of having everything running as expected by the end of the month… ‘We have heard from families who are still experiencing challenges,’ Superintendent Cintia Johnson told School Board members on Sept. 19. ‘We’re working to resolve all the concerns.'” [InsideNova]

New LEED Certification in Ballston — “4201 Wilson Boulevard, a 595,000-square-foot office building at Ballston Exchange in Arlington, VA, has earned LEED Silver certification, making it the first office building in the state of Virginia to certify using the LEED v4 Building Design + Construction green building rating system from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The building constitutes one half of the 776,000-square-foot Ballston Exchange development.” [Press Release]

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

Climate change is serious. Businesses, residents and governments must act.

Today, the Arlington County Board has adopted sweeping updates to the Community Energy Plan setting ambitious targets for transforming the County’s energy sector.

Some highlights of Arlington’s Community Energy Plan include:

  • Sets goal of a carbon neutral Arlington by 2050
  • Government operations to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2025
  • Community to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2035
  • Considering energy equity during implementation

“This plan is bold, because nothing less than a bold response from every community across this nation and across the globe is essential to address the dire threat to our planet posed by climate change,” Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said.

“Arlington’s updated Community Energy Plan is based on the latest climate science and views energy decisions through the lenses of energy security, economic competitiveness, environmental commitment and equity. It will maintain Arlington County’s position as a leader in America on climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

The plan incorporates goals for buildings; resilience; renewable energy; transportation, County government actions, and education and human behavior. It envisions an Arlington that by 2050 will be more resilient, where all electricity will come from renewable sources, where more residents will drive electric vehicles and more will use transit, and where homes and buildings will be more energy-efficient.

Just this week similar announcements were made by Governor Northam to achieve 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050 for all of Virginia as well as an announcement by Amazon to fight climate change by achieving carbon neutrality by 2040.

We are proud of the work we’ve done to date to save money and energy. We are equally energized about the work ahead to reach carbon neutrality in Arlington by 2050.

Some simple actions you can take today to act and stay connected:

Please join us as we move forward. Every action makes a difference.

Together we can create a carbon-neutral Arlington by 2050.

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A group of local students is organizing a demonstration in Arlington tomorrow (Friday) as part of a nationwide climate change strike ahead of the UN Climate Change panel.

Teenage organizers of the Northern Virginia effort say they’re organizing a teach-in about environmentalism from 8-11 a.m. at American University, followed by a rally beginning at 11:45 a.m. outside Arlington County government headquarters (2100 Clarendon Blvd) in Courthouse, to help the planet they’re about to inherit.

“The most important thing is to educate,” said organizer and Yorktown High School student Hannah Knittig. “That goes for government officials and also to the public.”

The students organizers are working with the Northern Virginia chapter of the Youth Climate Strike organization, and is hoping to attract attendees and passersby to the Courthouse rally with speeches, a voter registration table, and posters the local effects of climate change.

“I hope they can see that they can get involved from home where they live,” said another organizer, Cecelia O’Sullivan, 15, at the Potomac School in McLean. “They can see that this is really an accessible moment happening all over the country.”

The teen organizers who spoke to ARLnow cited concerns about global warming raising flood threats and spawning more extreme storms, also noting how activities like fracking pollute the environment and contribute to the problem.

“Our water supply and our excessive need of products in Arlington impacts people who live in Blacksburg and all over Virginia,” said Knitting. “I definitely know that my lifestyle, and my family’s lifestyle, does impact other people.”

“Seeing all these very small occurrences, which at first they don’t link immediately link to climate change. But once you dig deeper, you just see it’s all part of that larger effect of climate change,” said Saahithi Achanta, 17, who is also helping organize the event from Chantilly High School.

Knittig, 16, said that around eighty students from across the Northern Virginia area have signed up to join the Arlington strike, and another 80 students have pledged to attend the same-day sister strike in Richmond.

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This week’s devastating flash floods may be evidence of a bigger weather pattern shift, some experts say.

The storm that pummeled the Arlington dumped 3.3 inches of rain in one hour Monday morning, breaking the regional record. Some experts say this is part of a larger pattern of wetter weather — and possibly climate change.

The so-called supercell developed in Frederick County, Virginia, where NWS Meteorologist Jason Elliott says cool, dry winds from the north met with warm, wet winds from the south. From there the storm — which was about the side of Montgomery County, Md. — travelled about 20 miles per hour towards southern Maryland.

Unfortunately for Arlington, the heaviest part of the storm travelled down the Potomac River — straight through Fairfax County, Arlington County, Alexandria and D.C. — overwhelming stormwater management systems and filling streets, homes, and businesses with water.

When a rainstorm hits, the runoff water not absorbed into the ground travels into the county’s stormwater pipes. However, too much water can fill the pipes, and flow out of manholes and storm drains.

“Water will then flow underneath of a road or a bridge and a stream will fill up and flow on top of a road or culvert,” said Aileen Winquist, Arlington’s Stormwater Management Program Manager. “That’s where damage can occur.”

Monday’s storm not only turned streams and streets into raging rapids, but also caused sewage backups in homes. Winquist said this is usually caused by water flooding sewer pipes and coming up through the floor drains in basements. It’s a problem residents in Westover and elsewhere face as they continue to recover from the flooding.

The county’s storm and sewer systems are overall in “good condition”, Winquist said, and crews continuing to repair corroded storm pipes and re-line old sewer pipes as needed.

“Typically the storm sewer system is designed for what’s known as a 10 year storm,” she added, referring the federal classification of a storm that has a 10% chance of occurring once every 10 years.

“It was easily raining 5 inches in an an hour, for half an hour,” said Elliot. “And nothing can handle something that heavy in that short a period of time.”

The county keeps a detailed map of every location in Arlington damaged in a flood and uses it prepare for future emergencies and prioritize routine repairs. Winquist declined to share a copy of the map, citing privacy concerns, but noted that Westover was not among the neighborhoods filled with water during Arlington’s last major flood back in 2006.

New flood plains can be caused by a variety of factors, such as problems with the storm water pipes or nearby development projects. But there’s also the issue of storms getting stronger and wetter.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

We need your input to help refine the draft Community Energy Plan.

Ask questions, get answers and make your voice heard. If you care about climate action and Arlington’s sustainability journey, this event is for you! Snacks will be provided.

Please join use at Central Library this Tuesday!

Community Energy Plan Open House:

Date: June 4
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Location: Central Library Auditorium

Our lives are increasingly reliant on ever more energy. Air conditioning and heating, lighting, electric cars, tablets and smart phones, TVs and game consoles, and so much more. Energy is a key enabler of humanity’s progress.

It is also linked to global greenhouse gas increases and associated impacts that were recently detailed in the latest UN Climate Report.

The Rethink Energy program is Arlington’s climate action program and is moving the needle on energy efficiency, solar power, green building and more.

Why do we need a Community Energy Plan?

Arlington’s Community Energy Plan was first adopted in 2013. In the same way that Arlington’s smart growth journey was built upon land-use planning and transit, energy planning is the critical next layer to support Arlington’s evolution as a sustainable community.

Arlington County is updating the Community’s Energy Plan. This Plan is ambitious in its scope, but practical in its aims. Residents and businesses can expect a variety of benefits as we work to finalize this long-term plan:

  • Reducing energy costs that will save residents and businesses money
  • Generating energy locally with the use of renewables and other technologies
  • Reaching our carbon reduction goals by 2050

Please join us on June 4 at the Community Energy Plan Open House!

The draft Community Energy Plan update can be found here. An executive summary of the proposed changes can be found here.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

This week we are highlighting an upcoming event sponsored by EcoAction Arlington, Coalition for Smarter Growth and Encore Learning.

On April 9 from 7-9:00 p.m., former Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette will present Al Gore’s compelling slide deck on the climate crisis. Mr. Fisette will then facilitate a panel featuring:

  • Demetra McBride, Bureau Chief, Arlington County Office of Sustainability and Environmental Management
  • Timothy DelSole, George Mason University Professor and co-Chief Editor of the Journal of Climate
  • Paul Bledsoe, Progressive Policy Institute and national media contributor on climate policy and politics
  • Scott Sklar, President of the Stella Group and an expert on clean energy technologies.

The panel will cover the challenges we face, progress made and the path forward. What is Arlington doing to respond to climate change? What is the Green New Deal? And what is the status of batteries and EVs?

This event is free and open to all, but space is limited. Register here.

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Earlier this week the Arlington County Board approved a resolution expressing the county’s commitment to fighting climate change and upholding the Paris Climate Agreement.

One could argue that fighting climate change starts with local action and that, at the very least, there is positive symbolic value in the county’s resolution.

One could also argue that despite passage of its Community Energy Plan in 2013, there’s little Arlington County can legally do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, beyond providing incentives for greater energy efficiency in buildings.

What do you think? Should the County Board be taking the time to address the issue of climate change?

Photo by Tyler Zarfoss

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