Arlington County Government has made great strides in advancing the way their community thinks about energy. Through the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE), Arlington County shares resources, provides community outreach, and strategizes effective projects to improve the county’s energy use.
The Here and Now: Community Outreach
Community outreach has been successful with programs such as the Arlington Green Games, Green Home Choice, the Green Building Program, and events such as the Energy Journey. The Arlington Green Games is a friendly competition for residents and businesses to save energy, money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Green Home Choice is a no-cost, elective program to certify homes as green, awarding points for energy and resource efficiency, sustainability, and healthy living environment, with certified homes receiving well-deserved recognition. The Green Building Program works to incorporate LEED certificated structures into public and private locations throughout Arlington County. A fun, interactive community engagement event Arlington has developed is the Energy Journey Game. The Energy Journey includes the chance for investments, risks and bonuses, all while learning impacts of your energy choices.
The Future: Long-Term Energy Planning
An important step toward addressing energy for the long-term in Arlington County has been the adoption of the Community Energy Plan (CEP). Efforts to develop the CEP began in January 2010 with the creation of the Community Energy and Sustainability (CES) Task Force. Bi-monthly meetings, with up to 80 participants at each meeting, were held to discuss recommendations for the long-term, mid-term, and short-term reduction of greenhouse gas emissions countywide. The CES Task Force produced an 87 page report in March 2011 with 18 recommendations for future energy management, which the County Board accepted. In order to be part of the Comprehensive Plan, the recommendations then needed to be vetted throughout the community and finalized. An Advisory Group of approximately 30 local energy and business leaders was formed and met quarterly from 2011 to 2013, providing staff guidance on the creation of the final version of the Community Energy Plan. Energy Forums and meetings with neighborhood groups and Commissions provided additional extensive public input. In June 2013, the Arlington County Board adopted the CEP and the associated Implementation Framework. Since then, County staff has been working with the Community Energy Plan Implementation Review Committee and stakeholders to achieve goals outlined in six areas: Buildings, District Energy, Renewable Energy, Transportation, County Government Activities, and Education and Human Behavior.
Progress on the district energy goal includes investigation and consideration of several suitable Arlington locations including Crystal City, Courthouse, and Rosslyn. Arlington County, together with the local gas utility and a real estate developer, engaged consultants Ever-Green Energy and Burns & McDonnell to investigate the viability of district energy in Crystal City, an urban neighborhood populated with office buildings and residential high-rises. So far the group has received positive responses from building owners regarding district energy in Crystal City. District energy is also being investigated for the reimagining of the Courthouse Square area, where the county is the main landholder. For Rosslyn, a high density and high energy use intensity area, plans are in place to create an Integrated Management Plan beginning in 2015.
This short video
tells the AIRE story from inception to current events, with interview highlights from board officials and County staff.
More information on the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy and the Community Energy Plan can be found on the AIRE website