The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has adopted new standards to encourage the use of “green” building practices in construction projects throughout the county.
The new policies build on standards the county first adopted in 2007 and only apply to developers that are going through the land use process for a rezoning or other application that will add to the density or intensity of the site.
Green building techniques aim to reduce energy use and water consumption in buildings, thereby mitigating some of the environmental impacts. The policy recommends, but doesn’t require, the use of these techniques.
“It’s not just that it’s a feel-good environmental thing, it’s also a savings,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova. It puts our businesses and our community in a competitive situation.”
The policy continues to rely on third-party certification processes to evaluate the merits of a building’s green features. However, it has been updated to reflect the array of certification programs that exist, instead of primarily relying on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) cerification.
The revised policy also sets up the expectation that buildings with a higher density or intensity should achieve a higher level of environmental certification.
Prior to approving the new standards on Tuesday, some supervisors expressed reservations about two of the new provisions.
One would encourage new development, particularly in residential areas, to incorporate electric vehicle charging stations into their plans.
Supervisor Michael Frey (R-Sully) said he is concerned about how electric vehicle charging stations are already being developed in his district – more like gas stations than just a charging station in a parking area.
“I think we’re getting way ahead of ourselves,” Frey said. “I think the market [for electric vehicles] is developing and we are doing more harm right now than we’re doing good.”
The other provision that concerned some supervisors is a plan to request that building owners monitor and track data usage so that county staff can gain a better understanding of how well the green building strategies are working.
Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) unsuccessfully proposed delaying the vote to a later date, in part to sort out the data collection issue.
“We’re going to collect all this data, we don’t know why we’re collecting it … we don’t know what the staff is going to do with the information we collect,” he said.