Climate change is here and action in finding solutions is needed now. In response to climate crisis, the Fairfax Alliance for Climate Solutions is organizing, along with other faith groups, to promote climate-change solutions. We are a growing faith alliance that views finding climate solutions to be a moral, spiritual responsibility to future generations.
There are many areas in which Fairfax County leads; however, when it comes to climate change solutions that is not yet so. Fairfax County has the resources and know-how to be a leader in climate change solutions; the Faith Alliance wants that to happen. The county Board of Supervisors can take steps now that will save taxpayers money, make energy use more efficient while enhancing the quality of life and economy for all County residents.
Like many groups within the county, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Faith Alliance supports the county supervisors’ encouragement of public, private and community projects which demonstrate use of local alternative, renewable energy. Thus we support rapid approval and permitting for the Lorton Green Energy Triangle. By its location just outside the nation’s capital, LGET would be the first of its kind in the U.S. using a mix of renewable energy — solar, geothermal, wind and recovered methane gas — to provide for county facilities energy needs. It would be a showplace for innovation. Reconstituting Chairman Bulova’s Private Sector Energy Taskforce could mobilize the creativity of the private sector in developing such innovative, profitable solutions such as LGET. We support approval of EnviroSolutions Inc.’s application now before the supervisors.
The Faith Alliance also calls upon the county Board of Supervisors to commit to increase energy efficiency in county-owned buildings by 25 percent over the next three years and to lead by publicly reporting the energy consumption of all county-owned buildings by the end of 2014. This could include a challenge to commercial and private homeowners to reduce their carbon footprint as well.
As Fairfax County doesn’t yet have an integrated environmental management program, Faith Alliance supports establishment of a centralized environment and climate office with the authority to coordinate the actions of individual County agencies. This includes promoting business and citizen engagement to protect the environment, promote innovative solutions to climate change, and energy efficiency and energy conservation. Doing so will save taxpayer money.
The Faith Alliance calls for greater energy efficiency in commercial buildings via LEED certifications and support LEED certification as a requirement rather than something to “strive for.” A late evening drive along Interstate 66, the Springfield Interchange or the Dulles Toll Road shows bright illumination from unoccupied office buildings and parking structures. We recommend, for new construction, the county develop a proffer system to encourage public energy tracking and benchmarking.
Fairfax County has the resources and know-how to be a leader in climate change solutions. Let’s begin with steps that save taxpayer money by focusing on energy efficiency and conservation. Let’s approve the Lorton Green Energy Triangle proposal. Such actions will aid in furthering and supporting climate solutions as well as Fairfax County economic growth.
Jean Wright, Oakton
The writer is with the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions.