Arlington, VA

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.

High utility bills disproportionately impact those with lower incomes.

On average, low-income households pay 7.2 percent of their income on utilities — more than three times the amount that higher income households pay (2.3 percent).

Families struggling to pay energy bills may sacrifice nutrition, medicine and other necessities, which compound the effects of inequality. Energy efficiency can make a noticeable difference.

The Income and Age-Qualifying Home Improvement program provides in-home energy assessments and installation of select energy-saving products. Single-family homes and multi-family homes (apartments or condos) all qualify.

To help save on energy costs, qualifying Dominion Energy customers can receive a free energy assessment and free energy-saving measures that may include:

  • ENERGY STAR qualified LED light bulbs
  • Efficient, low-flow showerheads
  • Efficient, low-flow faucet aerators
  • Pipe wrap insulation for hot water pipes
  • Attic insulation and air sealing

Eligible applicants must meet ONE of the following criteria:

  • Household income is less than 60% of the state median income
  • Household income is less than 120% of the state median income for residents over 60 years of age

These retrofits can make a big difference to some families, so please share this information.

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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.

A major storm has hit our area and your neighborhood just lost power. Your refrigerator stopped humming, your air conditioner ceased and the clock on your stove just went black.

What’s more, you don’t know when the power will be restored. An hour? Tomorrow? What if it’s longer? When the power goes out nothing works (unless you have solar and batteries from Arlington’s Solar Co-op).

If these questions make you uncomfortable, chances are that you don’t have an emergency plan or kit on hand.

This scenario is only hypothetical but we’ve seen it here in Arlington time and time again. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes — all natural disasters are inevitable. This weekend hurricane Fay is going to narrowly miss Arlington. The key is being prepared. Having an emergency plan and kit can make all the difference.

Since COVID-19 appeared we can’t necessarily bunk up with family, neighbors, or even in a hotel during an emergency without risk.

Below are links to a family-friendly emergency scavenger hunt from Dominion Virginia Power, additional preparedness tips, a link to Arlington’s Solar Co-op and emergency planning resources from Arlington County.

Make a plan and kit today — they could be a real life saver.

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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.

Air pollution is down across Virginia and the rest of the country, due to much lower personal traffic on roadways. You have undoubtedly noticed lighter traffic in Arlington.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments recently reported that traffic in the region had decreased by over 50 percent in late April, and VDOT data shows similar results. The same VDOT site shows even greater reductions during rush hour along Route 29 and I-66 in Arlington.

Similarly, energy use in buildings is down overall in the past two months, with many commercial and institutional properties closed or operating at a fraction of their usual use. Natural gas use is down with the mild spring, and electricity use is down sharply with lower occupancy and mild weather.

Savvy property managers have adjusted accordingly to control costs, shutting off unneeded equipment and setting thermostats back to “unoccupied” settings. As you might expect, Arlington County government has also seen sharp reductions in energy use in community centers and libraries.

Care is taken to not completely shut the buildings off — it is important to maintain proper humidity levels to avoid indoor air quality problems. Emergency lighting and other essential equipment prevent energy use from truly “flat-lining”, but curves like the one below warm the heart of an energy analyst.

Energy managers and planners are seeking insights into how we might maintain some of the energy and cost savings — and reduced pollutant emissions — once society resumes full operation after the COVID pandemic.

Meanwhile, many residents have seen an increase in energy and water bills from staying at home. More cooking, more heating or cooling may be driving household bills up. It may be difficult to assess because COVID hit as winter ended, and the need for air conditioning has been slight thus far. What have you seen in your home energy bills since March?

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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.

In a time of great change, Arlingtonians are empowered to plug into solar.

Over the past few weeks, 280 Arlingtonians have attended 3 info sessions on Arlington’s Solar and EV Charger Co-op. Forty one families have already had their roofs screened, verified as viable for solar, and they have joined the Co-op.

In the 5+ years of the Co-op we’ve never seen interest this strong nor had the Co-op launch so quickly. Thank you!

The Co-op is moving toward the next step, the Request-for-Proposal (RFP) process in which the solar vendors are selected.

Arlingtonians can still join the Co-op to have their roofs screened at no cost or obligation. There are 3 months left to join the co-op as it will close in August 2020.

You can also take advantage of one of the last big federal solar tax credits. This year the solar tax credit will be 26 percent. In 2021, it will be 22 percent and in 2022 and beyond, it won’t be available for homeowners at all.

Thank you Arlington for your interest and action. For others that are still interested, click below to learn more and join the co-op:

Join the co-op to have your roof screened

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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 hope you are safe and well at home. To learn more about protecting yourself from COVID-19, please visit the County’s COVID-19 page.

Due to the need to remain at home, we are announcing our first virtual solar and electric vehicle (EV) co-op session.

More than 200 homeowners have already participated in our Solar and Electric Vehicle Charger Co-op. The cooperative helps Arlingtonians buy solar and EV chargers at a discounted price through bulk purchasing. The cooperative also provides support to participants to make the purchasing process easy. This year we will also provide information about storing your solar power at home in battery systems.

You can also take advantage of one of the last big federal solar tax credits. This year the solar tax credit will be 26 percent. In 2021, it will be 22 percent and in 2022 and beyond, it won’t be available for homeowners at all.

Being stuck at home is an opportune time to learn more about solar, electric vehicle charging and solar battery storage. Help our community reach carbon neutral by 2050.

Please RSVP and join us for an information session to learn more:

April 27: 12 p.m. Info Session link
Facebook event link

April 2812 p.m. Battery Storage 101 link
Facebook event link

April 30: 6 p.m. Info Session link
Facebook event link

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After months of debate and discussion, the Arlington County Board has unanimously approved a plan to reach carbon neutrality in Arlington by 2050.

The plan, approved at the Saturday (Sept. 21) County Board meeting, has environmental goals across six categories, from new building regulations to transportation goals and standards. More from a county press release:

The plan incorporates goals for buildings; resilience; renewable energy; transportation, County government actions, and education and human behavior. It envisions a carbon neutral Arlington by 2050 that 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.

The plan has been criticized as both too aspirational and not ambitious enough. While there was near-universal support for the idea behind the plan among speakers at the meeting, various members of the public and commission representatives expressed concerns about its implementation.

“We need to ensure sensitivity to individual circumstances isn’t lost in said implementation,” said Scott Pedowitz, government affairs manager for the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses and residents should have the flexibility to meet the targets in a matter that makes practical and economic sense for their particular circumstance.”

Most of those who spoke represented various social and environmental groups and expressed support for tighter local environmental regulations. Several dozen gathered at a Sierra Club-organized rally outside of the County government headquarters at 2100 Clarendon Blvd to support the new plan and its clean energy goals

“We are excited about the clean energy bill coming from Arlington,” Karen Nightengale, president of the Arlington branch of the NAACP, told ARLnow. “The community needs it. It is really impacting multiple communities, especially brown and black communities living in low lying areas. We are excited about Arlington taking this step to go forward.”

Others testifying in the public hearing said they hoped for even earlier deadlines and stricter environmental measures.

“To really aim for a cleaner County, we need an earlier deadline for this plan,” said Jason Spitzak.

Elenor Hodges, executive director of EcoAction Arlington, said the recent protests in D.C. and activist Greta Thunberg’s testimony at the House of Foreign Affairs and Climate Crisis Committee were inspiring.

“We saw Greta Thunberg sail across the Atlantic and yesterday, thousands marched across the world in a climate strike,” Hodges said. “I hope we can take on [this] ambitious plan.”

Hodges said she’d like to see all new construction meet zero-carbon emissions standards and for Arlington’s tree canopy to be preserved or expanded.

In a three-page letter to the County Board, William Ross, chair of the Park and Recreation Commission, said he was disappointed in the final product. Ross argued the plan doesn’t do enough to promote or explore new green space options in Arlington.

“For all of the technical intensity of the plan, it misses some critical opportunities to improve our carbon footprint and mitigate the negative aspects of energy consumption because the plan fails to adequately address aspects of energy efficiency and environmental protection that are not wholly dependent on technology-based solutions,” Ross said.

After the plan’s approval, the Arlington County website says staff will now get to work on an implementation framework to be brought back to the County Board next June.

Jay Westcott contributed to this story

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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.

High utility bills disproportionately impact those with lower incomes.

On average, low-income households pay 7.2 percent of their income on utilities — more than three times the amount that higher income households pay (2.3 percent).

Families struggling to pay energy bills may sacrifice nutrition, medicine and other necessities, which compound the effects of inequality. Energy efficiency can make a noticeable difference.

The Income and Age-Qualifying Home Improvement program provides in-home energy assessments and installation of select energy-saving products. Single-family homes and multi-family homes (apartments or condos) all qualify.

To help save on energy costs, qualifying Dominion Energy customers can receive a free energy assessment and free energy-saving measures that may include:

  • ENERGY STAR qualified LED light bulbs
  • Efficient, low-flow showerheads
  • Efficient, low-flow faucet aerators
  • Pipe wrap insulation for hot water pipes
  • Attic insulation and air sealing

Eligible applicants must meet ONE of the following criteria:

  • Household income is less than 60% of the state median income
  • Household income is less than 120% of the state median income for residents over 60 years of age

These retrofits can make a big difference to some families, so please share this information.

0 Comments

Arlington County is working on plans to be “carbon neutral” by 2050.

The new goal comes is part of an ambitious update to the county’s current Community Energy Plan (CEP). It’s the result of community feedback that the earlier plan didn’t go far enough in addressing energy efficiency concerns, according to a staff report on the plan.

A pair of public hearings on the updates are expected to be scheduled for September at this weekend’s County Board meeting.

Carbon neutrality means reaching net zero metric tons of emissions each year. The idea behind the update is that, in 30 years, any carbon emissions would require some form of carbon offset in equivalent exchange.

The current plan, approved in 2013, targeted reaching three metric tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) per capita by 2050. The updated goal relies on technology that is still science fiction as of 2019 and admittedly strains the boundaries of what the County is allowed to promise.

“Arlington’s community leaders point to today’s climate science reports as a need for people to take action and for a stronger, bolder CEP,” the report noted. “It is important to note that Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, that is, local governments have limited authority, and can pass ordinances only in areas where the General Assembly has granted clear authority. A more aspirational 2050 target of zero metric tons of CO2e per capita per year simultaneously pushes the limits local jurisdictions have in Dillon Rule states, and assumes numerous technological advancements and disruptions take place.”

Rich Dooley, Arlington’s community energy coordinator, said the Dillon Rule also means Arlington can’t require developers to build energy-efficient buildings above what is required by the state, they can only continue to offer incentives like bonus density for going above-and-beyond the state’s standards.

Even so, the report on the update points to several places where Arlington could be more energy efficient, from requiring greater levels of energy efficiency in new buildings to prioritizing public transit infrastructure over cars.

Buildings currently use approximately 60 percent of all energy in Arlington, according to the update. The 2013 plan charted a gradual reduction in energy use in residential buildings, ending with 40 percent less energy usage in 2040, compared to 2007 levels. The update shifts that goal to a 38 percent reduction by 2050, compared to 2016 levels.

Arlington County would also need to significantly scale up its solar energy production and purchasing. The updated plan says by 2025, solar energy should supply 100 percent of government operations and by 2050, solar energy should supply half of all electricity use in Arlington.

Dooley noted that the plan is meant to be a high-level look at the goals and policies of the project, and some of the next steps include working on updating the “dated” implementation framework.

The report notes that the specific shift to a carbon-neutral goal by 2050 was partially the result of prodding from the Arlington County Board.

“During its work session deliberations, the County Board members noted the importance of acting now to address climate change while keeping in mind the other important CEP goals,” the update said. “The work session concluded with County Board guidance to staff to show in the 2019 CEP that the community should aspire to become Carbon Neutral by 2050.”

Dooley said that staff initially presented the update as being able to realistically reduce emissions to one metric ton, but the community spoke up at meetings and said the County should commit to going to fully carbon neutral.

“The County Board heard that and said ‘we can go ahead and get it there,'” Dooley said.

If the technology to help Arlington reach its 2050 goals doesn’t materialize over the next few years, Dooley said there carbon offsets the County can purchase.

The update also includes other renewable energy objectives for the nearer term:

  • Government operations will achieve 50% renewable electricity by 2022, and 100% renewable electricity by 2025.
  • The community will achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2035.

But other concerns remain that the plan might not be authorized by the state government or that it might fail to address consumer emissions — emissions associated with the local consumption of products that aren’t created in Arlington.

At the County Board meeting on Saturday, July 13, the Board is expected to approve advertisement of a public Planning Commission hearing on Sept. 9 and a public hearing at the County Board meeting on Sept. 21.

Image via Arlington County

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So you have a Tesla or some other electric car, but where in Arlington can you charge it?

Most of the electric car stations are grouped around Arlington’s Metro corridors, according to ChargeHub, a website that tracks charging stations. Charging stations follow a line between Rosslyn and Ballston, for instance, and there are 22 throughout the Crystal City and Pentagon City area alone.

But finding stations outside of those areas can be a hassle.

One bank of electric chargers is located along Columbia Pike at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street). In Shirlington, an electric car charging station is located at the Campbell Avenue parking garage.

Additionally, there are three charging stations in residential North Arlington:

  • Discovery Elementary School (5301 36th Street N.)
  • Harris Teeter (2425 N. Harrison Street)
  • Potomac Overlook Regional Park (2845 N. Marcey Road)

There are seven Tesla-specific charger locations in Arlington.

  • Two Liberty Center (4075 Wilson Blvd) — Four Tesla connectors available to the public
  • Clarendon Square (3033 Wilson Blvd) — Two Tesla connectors, parking fees may apply
  • Market Common Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd) — 18 Tesla Superchargers
  • 2311 Wilson Blvd (2311 Wilson Blvd) — Three Tesla connectors, parking fees may apply
  • 1320 N. Courthouse Garage (1320 N. Courthouse Road) — Two Tesla connectors, parking fees may apply
  • The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City (1250 S. Hayes Street) — Two Tesla connectors, available for patrons only
  • Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel (2800 S. Potomac Avenue) — Two Tesla connectors, available for patrons only

Meanwhile, if your car is charged and you’re looking for fellowship with other electric car enthusiasts, a local group of residents has formed the Arlington Solar and EV Charger Co-op, with the goal of making it easier to save money on the purchase of solar panels and electric vehicle chargers.

The group is planning to hold an information session on Thursday (June 27) from 6:30-8 p.m., at the Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) to discuss solar energy, electric vehicles, and simplifying the “going solar” process.

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Arlington is looking for public input on a plan to use energy more efficiently.

Tonight (June 4) from 7-9 p.m. at the Central Library Auditorium (1015 N Quincy Street), county staff plan to host an open house during which the community can ask questions or offer feedback on an update to the county’s Community Energy Plan (CEP).

Goals for the project include:

  • Increase the energy and operational efficiency of all buildings: By 2050, the plan aims to have total building energy usage in Arlington be 38 percent lower than in 2007. In the report, staff says both code-required reductions for buildings and incentives for voluntary efficiencies — a carrot and stick approach — will be required.
  • Ensure Arlington’s energy resilience: The report notes — and anyone in Ballston two weeks ago can confirm — Arlington’s energy infrastructure is vulnerable to extreme weather and other factors. The report says Arlington will need to use new technologies to rely on more local sources of energy and potentially establish “microgrids” to make critical pieces of infrastructure like Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and the Virginia Hospital Center more independent from blackouts across the county.
  • Increase locally generated energy supply: The plan aims to have Arlington County follow the example of Discovery Elementary, which won accolades for using all its energy generated on-site, and establish more solar energy collectors and other green energy sites across Arlington.
  • Move more people with fewer greenhouse gas emissions: The goal here is fairly self-explanatory, but the general idea is to get more Arlingtonians using buses, bicycles, and other non-car means of transportation, while encouraging those who are required to use cars to shift toward hybrid and energy-efficient vehicles.
  • Integrate energy goals into all county government activities: The report says Arlington should aim at having government facilities reduce CO2 emissions to 71 percent below their 2007 levels by 2040. The approach would involve a mix of smaller efficiencies in energy and water usage and larger shifts in making new government facilities more energy efficient from a design standpoint.
  • Support residents and businesses that reduce energy usage: The final goal of the report involves using county staff and resources to help encourage locals — from individuals to business owners — find ways to rethink energy usage in their own lives.

“We invite the community to drop in and spend as much time as needed to learn about the draft CEP update, CEP implementation details, and provide feedback on the proposed changes to the 2013 CEP,” Rich Dooley, Arlington’s community energy coordinator, said in an email.

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The annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo is coming to Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road) on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The home show is a community event — not a commercial event. The goal: to educate Arlingtonians about the best ways to add value to their homes and improve their overall quality of life.

Now in its 13th year, the home show is a one-stop shop for all things related to improving and building homes including permitting, financing and choosing the right contractors. This year the show will focus on informing visitors about value remodeling — making sure that every dollar invested in home improvement achieves the best return.

The free, family-friendly event will include 18 workshops covering a wide spectrum of topics, including Accessory Dwellings (ADUs), Energy Efficiency, Smart-on time and on budget-Contracting, Landscaping, Going Solar and the well established Landlord Seminar that deals with the legal and practical nuts and bolts of being a landlord. The Show features more than 65 exhibitors, including local builders, designers, master gardeners and more.

Attendees can also discuss their home improvement or building plans with representatives from a number of Arlington County agencies, who will be available for one-to-one consultation.

Admission and parking are both free. There will be a raffle for a 50-inch television, free LED bulbs for visitors, many contractor specials and great food will be provided by Cafe Sazon.

The event is organized by Arlington County’s Housing Division and the nonprofit group Resilient Virginia. Gold Sponsor of this year’s show is Alair Homes Arlington.

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