How Arlington County Promotes Sustainable Buildings

Jan. 29, 2018

The Virginia county cuts emissions and promotes financing for energy efficiency.

For its efforts to cut back on emissions and foster sustainable building practices, Arlington County, VA, has been named a Platinum level community by USGBC in its newly founded LEED for Communities program. The county has implemented a number of programs aimed at reducing carbon emissions in the short and long term and passed laws that promote green building improvements.

“Arlington County understands the value of LEED and its ability to help set goals and deploy strategies that can improve the quality of life for residents across the community,” says Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO of USGBC. “Arlington’s LEED for Communities Platinum certification demonstrates a commitment to improving performance and creating a more resilient and sustainable future.”

USGBC expanded its LEED program last year and can now evaluate the sustainable actions that entire cities and communities are implementing. Two of the most important areas to address are human and environmental health, which Arlington County demonstrated via benchmarking.

“It is truly an honor, and a validation of Arlington’s commitment to sustainability, to be the first to earn LEED for Communities Platinum certification,” says Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette. “This has been a community effort, achieved by having a vision of combating climate change and promoting energy efficiency on a local level, and putting in place innovative policies and practices to achieve it. Now, more than ever, the responsibility for progress on climate change rests with local and state governments and with the private sector.”

Arlington County’s accomplishments include:

  • In 2007, the county launched the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) to cut carbon emissions by 10% within five years. It accomplished these goals by improving energy efficiency in buildings in the community, as well as other governmental changes.
  • Arlington County’s 2013 Community Energy Plan (CEP) established a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 75% by 2050.
  • The county is the first locality in Virginia to approve an ordinance that allows a Commercial-Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program. These partnerships between governments and private organizations provide long-term financing options for projects that improve energy or water efficiency in commercial buildings.
  • LEED for Communities Platinum certification also evaluated open-space planning, solid waste management and stormwater management.

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