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Morning Notes

Snow tires by BrianMKA

Chamber Wants State Control of Energy Plan — One of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s legislative goals this year is to have the state take control of energy efficiency and green building standards. The Chamber’s call for statewide objectives and policies comes as Arlington is in the latter stages of developing its own Community Energy Plan. “The Chamber does not support the delegation of authority to localities to establish green-building codes and requirements on a locality-by-locality basis,” the group wrote. [Sun Gazette]

VSP Responds to Crashes During Storm — Yesterday’s snow, ice and rain storm resulted in dozens of crashes on Northern Virginia highways. Virginia State Police’s Fairfax division (which includes Arlington) responded to 69 crashes, 46 disabled vehicles and a total of 328 calls for service yesterday, according to VSP spokeswoman Corinne Geller. Statewide, VSP responded to 686 crashes, including one fatal wreck in Campbell County, near Lynchburg.

Population Decline Coming?Updated at 12:55 p.m. — A projection by researchers at the University of Virginia suggests that Arlington’s population will, against all conventional wisdom, actually decline in coming years. In the 2010 census Arlington had a population of 207,627; by 2040, the projection suggest the population will shrink to 197,065. The researchers cautioned against putting too much faith in the Arlington numbers. As a whole, Virginia is projected to grow, with some 2 million additional residents statewide by 2040. Arlington’s planning division projects a population of 252,400 in 2040. [Sun Gazette]

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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.

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Morning Notes

Board Approves Energy Plan Framework — Last night the County Board approved an ambitious set of goals to dramatically reduce energy usage and cut carbon emissions in Arlington over the next 40 years. With the goals set, a new county panel will now set out to figure out how to implement them. Speakers at last night’s board meeting — including members of the local business community — were generally supportive of the energy plan, although a few individuals criticized the additional regulations it will likely impose. [Sun Gazette, Arlington County]

Local Green Group Criticized — Arlington-based Conservation International is being criticized by environmental activists for helping to “greenwash” large corporations in exchange for donations. [Huffington Post]

The Concrete ‘Jungle’ of Clarendon — Are the roads tricky and drivers impatient in the Clarendon/Courthouse area? One writer thinks so. [Patch]

Flickr pool photo by BriankMKA

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Morning Notes

Smoke at Crystal City Metro Station — Firefighters from Arlington, Alexandria and Fort Myer responded to a report of smoke on the mezzanine level of the Crystal City Metro station around 3:30 p.m. yesterday. The smoke, it turns out, came from a faulty elevator belt, not from a fire. Just as quickly as they arrived, firefighters packed up their gear and headed back to their stations.

More Costs for Arlington Energy Plan — It will cost almost $500,000 in consultant fees and staff salaries to implement Arlington’s ambitious Community Energy Plan over the next year. The plan, which is designed to reduce the county’s greenhouse gas emissions, is up for adoption by the County Board on Tuesday. [Sun Gazette]

Alexandria Mulls Bikeshare Plan — Alexandria is thinking about spending $400,000 to place six Capital Bikeshare stations and 54 bicycles in Old Town and the Carlyle neighborhood. The plan has the potential of allowing CaBi trips between Crystal City and Old Town, but critics are questioning whether the plan is “a waste of money.” [Alexandria Gazette Packet]

Arlington Remodeler HonoredRocker-turned-remodeler Michael Sauri has been named one of the “big 50” remodelers nationwide by Remodeling Magazine. Sauri, an Arlington resident, is the owner of Clarendon-based remodeling firm Tri-Vista USA. [PR Web]

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Morning Notes

Bishop O’Connell Lights Decision May Be Delayed — County Manager Barbara Donnellan recommended the County Board put off any discussion of Bishop O’Connell High School’s request to add lights to its athletic fields until June, to give staff more time to analyze the controversial issue. [Sun Gazette]

Look Who’s Coming to Dinner in Shirlington — Sen. Jim Webb was spotted having dinner at T.H.A.I. Shirlington Friday night, according to a blog. [Shirlington Village Blogspot]

Energy Plan Approved By Task Force — A plan to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions in Arlington won the final approval of the task force that drafted it Friday morning. Arlington’s Community Energy Plan will likely be approved by the County Board in May. [Sun Gazette]

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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.

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Morning Notes

Panel Discusses Energy Plan Options — The task force in charge of helping to craft a Community Energy Plan for Arlington met yesterday to discuss options for providing “district energy” in the county’s denser areas. District energy would centralize heating and cooling in an area, serving multiple buildings. One of the big questions posed to the task force by its energy consultant was whether the company that provides the district energy plant should be county-owned, a public-private partnership or privately-owned. More from TBD.

Gunston to Get New Field, But Board Cuts Canopies — On Tuesday, the board approved a $715,000 contract to replace the synthetic field turf at Gunston Middle School. But they stripped out $120,000 in funding that county staff had allocated for shade canopies over the bleachers. More from the Sun Gazette.

Hotel Protest in Crystal City Tomorrow — Workers are expected to picket in front of the Crystal City Sheraton tomorrow to protest supposed abuses of workers’ rights by the hotel’s parent company. The rally has the backing of local organized labor. More from dclabor.org

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Arlington Chamber of Commerce Chairman Philip Keating says now is the time to “review and debate” Arlington County’s proposed community energy plan.

In a letter to members, Keating says the chamber’s government affairs and green business committees will be discussing the plan in the coming weeks. In the meantime, he had the following to say about the still-developing plan:

It is great to have goals, but as the expression goes “the devil is in the details,” and in the case of the draft energy plan, essential details are not being addressed at this stage … The Arlington Chamber is concerned by the unstated issues of cost, decisions of who will bear the cost, marketplace viability of the goals in the time frames contemplated, impact on the rights of property owners, and enforcement. In cases where actions impact the public good, it is the position of the Arlington Chamber that the general public should bear the expense, not just the business community.

The county is planning a public forum on the energy plan this week. The forum will be held from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday at Wakefield High School.

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