Dear Editor,

I'd like to congratulate Fairfax County Public Schools on its winning a Climate and Energy Leadership Award from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, as reported in these pages last Friday.

FCPS has done great work. Fairfax schools recently released a publicly accessible dashboard ( that offers parents and taxpayers an overview of how the school system is performing on its sustainability goals. The dashboard also offers drill-down data on individual schools' performance. This is invaluable for any parent who cares about how climate change will affect our children, and for any taxpayer who cares about reducing waste in public facilities. The schools are showing that they have avoided putting 39,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the air, saving taxpayers more than $8.5 million per year. This reduces global warming, and the savings can go into lower classroom sizes, more special needs teachers, and more extracurricular programs.

For comparison, the Fairfax County government recently released its own "dashboard" ( which doesn't provide nearly the level of detail as the FCPS version. Curiously, both Fairfax County and Fairfax County Public Schools get exactly the same kind of information feeds from the utilities, and use the same energy management software. What's more, FCPS is not only tracking its data, but using it to effect real change.

Elected leaders must learn from the success of our schools. In 2007, the Board of Supervisors signed the Cool Counties pledge and committed to reducing county greenhouse gases by 2% per year from 2010 levels. When will our leaders fulfill that promise? On the state level, Gov. McAuliffe is considering an environmental plan that would actually increase carbon pollution. Will he step up to cut carbon and make the switch to clean energy?

Unfulfilled promises and half measures aren't enough. As our school system demonstrates, real sustainability and bold leadership are indeed possible. FCPS's award is recognition that real change can and does happen. Congratulations.

Eric Goplerud


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