The FY 2023-2032 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which will be adopted by the Arlington County Board in July, will serve as an important vehicle for the County to meet its climate and other environmental goals. EcoAction Arlington is pleased that the CIP gives higher priority than in previous years to addressing climate change, energy use and natural resources resiliency, and other environmental challenges. Progress is being made to shift to electric vehicles for ART and the County’s fleet, expand rooftop solar, improve energy efficiency, and expand EV charging stations for the public. Nevertheless, the County needs to do more to meet the challenges of the rapidly unfolding climate crisis.
Carbon Neutrality for County Operations
Achieving the County’s goal for carbon neutrality means that we must stop burning fossil fuels in our vehicles and buildings and shift to renewable energy sources for our electricity. The Arlington Government needs to step forward and lead by example. To that end, EcoAction Arlington recommends that the County Board direct the County Manager to develop a plan to decarbonize County operations as rapidly as possible in line with similar commitments made by Fairfax County and other local jurisdictions. The County Board should urge APS to make a similar commitment.
A key component of this transition must be a commitment to electrification of building HVAC, hot water, and other systems and appliances in all new buildings and as systems that currently use fossil gas need replacements. Although the CIP indicates that multiple HVAC systems are scheduled for replacement, only one specifically plans for electrification. EcoAction Arlington is urging the County Board to include specific guidance establishing the strong presumption that all HVAC and domestic hot water systems and appliances installed in County-owned buildings will be electric, phasing out the use of fossil gas as quickly as feasible.
Equitable Investment in Arlington’s Natural Resources
Encouragingly, the proposed CIP recognizes that our natural resources need care and capital investments to continue to provide the important benefits of increased property values, better health outcomes, reduced heating and cooling costs, and mitigation of climate change impacts. The County is proposing a new Natural Resiliency Program aimed, at least initially, at reforestation and invasive removal in our natural areas, and restores funding for parkland acquisition. As programs move forward, EcoAction Arlington recommends that the County:
- Ensure equitable access to parks and reduction in the heat island effect in low income and ethnically diverse neighborhoods that have reduced access to open spaces and have below average tree canopy coverage
- Provide sufficient funding for parkland acquisition to meet the goal set in the Public Spaces Master Plan of increasing parkland by 30 acres
- Prioritize projects under the Natural Resiliency Program to meet measurable County goals such the Biophilic City Resolution, greenhouse gas emission reductions, or progress toward compliance with Chesapeake Bay requirements
Make sure that County Board members know you support higher investment in addressing climate change for a livable future for our families and for all Arlingtonians by
or speaking at the public hearing on the FY-2023-2032 Capital Improvement Plan on June 28 at 7:00 pm.
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Dear County Board Members:
I’m pleased that the proposed FY 2023-2032 Capital Improvement Plan gives higher priority than in previous years to addressing climate change, energy and natural resources resiliency, and other environmental challenges. Progress is being made to shift to electric vehicles for ART and the County’s fleet, expand rooftop solar, improve energy efficiency, and expand EV charging stations for the public. The proposed plans, however, do not go far enough to address the rapidly unfolding climate crisis and I urge the County Board to:
- Direct the County Manager to develop a plan to decarbonize all County operations as rapidly as possible in line with similar commitments made by Fairfax County and other jurisdictions and urge APS to make a similar commitment..
- Require that all HVAC and domestic hot water systems and appliances installed in County-owned buildings be electric, phasing out the use of fossil gas as quickly as feasible.
- Provide adequate funds for parkland acquisition to expand tree canopy in low income, ethnically diverse neighborhoods that have reduced access to open spaces, below average tree canopy coverage and higher than average heat island effect.
- Prioritize natural resiliency projects that contribute to the County’s biophilic, climate, and Chesapeake Bay goals.
We face unprecedented climate and environmental challenges and the County has an opportunity to further advance its ambitious climate and other environmental goals through its investments, policies, and initiatives.
[Your phone number – optional]
This content originally appeared in The EcoAdvocate newsletter produced by the EcoAction Arlington Advocacy Committee. For more information about the Advocacy Committee, please visit ecoactionarlington.org/get-involved/ecoaction-arlingtondvocacy/