Sustainability, Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Caring for our Environment
Underlying our choices on open space, parks and so many of our transportation and land use decisions is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century—climate change. While the political landscapes in Washington and Richmond make prospects unclear, I believe Arlington can and should take a leadership role in addressing this critical threat and preserving our environment for generations to come.
We know better, so we should do better. We can join other communities across the country to reach zero waste by 2038. Composting should be part of that solution—and so should designing materials using zero waste principles. One of the components is to extend producer responsibility so that the production of excess waste becomes undesirable. With the responsibility for waste management falling squarely to the municipalities, this is an important effort to address both seriously and creatively.
I have worked on energy efficiency and green construction during my time with Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together, formerly known as Christmas in April. I’ve advocated for single and multi-family unit weatherization and I am well-versed in the LEED standards of the U.S. Green Building Council and the metrics of other environmental organizations and understand how small changes can add up to big impact.
Accelerate our Commitment to our Energy Plan
Arlington’s Community Energy Plan (CEP) was adopted June 2013 to provide “a long-term vision for transforming how we generate, use, and distribute energy.” The plan calls for using locally-generated alternative energy and energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gases and the cost of energy. The goal is a 75 percent reduction in our carbon footprint by 2050.
In addition to achieving 100% renewable electricity by 2035, we can reduce our carbon footprint through electric vehicles by 2050. We have a Community Energy Plan that we need to implement more quickly and thoroughly in all that we do. But because of the Dillon Rule, we have limits placed on what Arlington has the authority to do. We would need additional commitment from the Virginia legislature to achieve additional authority related to renewable energy and waste reduction measures.
Significant progress has been made towards this goal. Arlington was recently named the first Platinum level community in the country by the United States Green Building Council in 2017. This award comes from an organization that holds high standards and is respected for its leadership. We should take this award as affirmation of work well done, but also reason to redouble our efforts as we progress towards our 2050 target.
Use All Available Tools and Keep Looking for Innovative Solutions
The Arlington County Board has an array of tools to help us meet our energy efficiency and renewable energy goals, such as Commercial-Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program, home energy rebates and renewable energy components in public building projects. Each of these tools are critical ways for Arlington to embrace the green-tech economy. For example, the C-PACE program is a public-private partnership that allows energy and water efficiency to reduce the cost of commercial construction. The county should use this program to reduce energy usage and encourage the business community to continue to be great partners on energy efficiency.
The Home Energy Rebate Program and initiatives that encourage the use of solar energy in home and public buildings are other innovative ideas that we should embrace. The Home Energy Rebate Program allows homeowners to earn a rebate by replacing outdated and inefficient water heaters or air conditioners. The Green Home Choice Program is yet another sustainability friendly policy aimed at reducing inefficiencies in new construction projects or major renovations. These types of innovative programs get at the heart of what it means to be a sustainable community and are key to preserving opportunity in Arlington.
Arlington must embrace energy efficiency in a thoughtful way, being creative in the face of state statutes that might make it difficult to employ all innovative ideas. We must partner with our leaders in Richmond as we work to expand and innovate, making citizen participation a key ingredient in driving the efficiency measures we need.
- Continue to use the CPACE program to encourage businesses to adopt energy efficient practices
- Work to reduce carbon footprint by 2050
- Maximize green technology for the benefit of everyone
- Reach for zero waste by 2038 and 100% renewable electricity by 2035
To share your thoughts with me or my campaign team on sustainability and our local energy and environmental efforts, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Minneh Kane at email@example.com.