• For more information on Green Party membership or to contact Green Party leadership, email info@greensofarlington.org Join the Arlington Greens online on Zoom on Wednesday,October 7 at 7 pm. For Zoom meeting ID and password, email us at info@greensofarlington.org

October 26, 2020

Arlington Residential Energy Conservation Program: Give out $1,000 grants to Arlington homeowners to weatherize, conserve, and reduce carbon emissions by up to 20 percent

environment,Uncategorized — @ 4:28 pm

Carbon emissions in Arlington averaged 9.1 metric tons (MT) per capita in 2016 or a total 2.0 million MT for Arlington.  About 23 percent of carbon emissions in Arlington came from homes, according to Arlington County.  In 2019, the Arlington County Board set the goal in the Arlington Community Energy Plan (CEP) to have a carbon neutral Arlington by 2050.

There are 28,500 were single family-detached houses, and 11,200 single family-attached houses in Arlington, most of which are owner occupied. Energy conservation (generally weatherization, insulation, and sealing air leaks) is the most cost effective way to reduce carbon emissions in a house; many houses in Arlington were built decades ago, and while some have been improved to high energy efficiency, the majority have not.  

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has indicated that low cost weatherization and more insulation can cut household use of electricity by 7 percent and heating by 18 percent, and save the homeowner about $300 a year.  Such energy conservation is the ‘low hanging fruit’ of addressing climate change.

To encourage Arlington homeowners to undertake energy conservation, the county government should fund a program to give out a $1,000 grant to cover the costs so every household can have an energy audit, and then do the most effective and lowest cost recommendations to cut heating and cooling.   The goal would be to reduce the energy use over 5 years in three-quarters of the 40,000 existing single-family detached and attached Arlington households by up to 20 percent. This will NOT make the house carbon neutral, but it will cut carbon emissions in homes substantially, and perhaps homeowners would take additional steps like solar panels on roof on their own.

The program would operate on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis to recruit Arlington homeowners to have a free energy audit of their home that would provide a detailed plan for energy conservation measures to cut use of electricity, water and natural gas.  The program would pay the homeowner $50 for participating, and then up to $1,000 for the highest priority energy improvements recommended in the energy audit.   This program’s goal is to have all homeowners eventually get an energy audit, and to begin to at least do the low cost changes that will reduce energy use.

Existing weatherization programs today in Arlington are targeted at low income homeowners of whom there are few in Arlington, and thus weatherization has not met its full potential.  EcoAction Arlington has had a small program of weatherization done by volunteers in low income apartments and houses.   Inertia and lack of interest by many homeowners and the hassle of getting an energy audit, and then following up with contractors or the homeowner doing the work them self, has impeded energy conservation in Arlington.

Funding for the residential energy conservation program would be obtained by raising the Arlington utility tax on electricity and the separate tax on natural gas from current $3 per household per month to $6 per month and eventually to $15 per month.  This is a carbon tax that makes electricity and natural gas more expensive.  The tax proceeds from the additional utility tax would mostly be rebated to homeowners to weatherize and reduce their utility bills by more than the additional tax would cost.

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October 12, 2020

Arlington Carbon Neutrality Goal by 2050: failure without local energy building code and tighter controls over demolition of existing houses

Development,environment — @ 3:20 pm

In 2019, the Arlington County Board approved the Community Energy Plan with a significant environmental goal that Arlington County become carbon neutral in energy use by 2050.  Nearly two-thirds of the 2.0 million metric ton carbon reduction would occur through de-carbonization of the electricity supply and changing all transportation to electric vehicles.  However, de-carbonization by itself alone cannot achieve carbon neutrality unless building energy efficiency is greatly increased and significant amount of local renewable energy production occurs (solar and geothermal energy).

The CEP set a goal that 23 percent of the 2.0 million metric tons of carbon reduction would come from local actions—11 percent from local renewable energy production and 12 percent from improving local buildings’ energy efficiency.  The county must adopt its own energy building code that requires new or renovated buildings to include state-of-the-art energy technology so that new buildings are mostly carbon neutral.  The county government should pass a restrictive energy building code, and then seek permission from the General Assembly to implement it.  The State building code is woefully inadequate and energy inefficient, as compared to most other Northeastern states.

New buildings should be required as part of the building code to add solar and geo-thermal energy.  Thus, Arlington could produce a significant amount of energy locally and not have to rely on the grid to bring in electricity produced elsewhere from solar or wind energy.   The grid cannot supply enough electricity to compensate for the loss of natural gas for heating.

Commercial buildings use 35 percent of local carbon emissions.  In the past, the county mainly encouraged energy efficiency in new commercial buildings through a subsidy program based on a bogus LEED, Energy Star or similar energy rating systems that do not significantly cut carbon emissions.  Academic research has now concluded that LEED and Energy Star and similar energy rating systems do not significantly reduce primary energy use in certified buildings. Marketing claims of 20-30 percent or more decline in carbon use in LEED buildings are bogus.

Arlington County has no data to confirm that the over 80 commercial buildings in Arlington with 37 million square feet that obtained LEED or Energy Star local subsidies used less energy than comparable non-certified buildings in the county.  The county should require as part of the CEP that all commercial property owners annually report use of water, electricity and gas or fuel for heating by building. 

Residential buildings.–About 23 percent of carbon emissions in the county in 2016 came from residential buildings; about half of the residential use was in detached or attached single family houses, and the other half was in multifamily housing.   There are about 28,500 detached single family houses and 11,200 attached single family houses in Arlington in 2019, according to the Arlington County Office of Planning, Housing and Development.  Many of the houses in the county were built in the 1950s and 60s or earlier and are energy inefficient. 

The county government should fund a program to give $1,000 to homeowners to weatherize and retrofit their older energy-inefficient houses.  Basic weatherization and energy refits that cost generally under $5,000 can reduce a typical house’s energy use by up to 20 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.  With more substantial and expensive energy upgrades, such as solar panels and solar hot water heaters, the energy use in existing houses in Arlington could be cut by well over 570 percent and very close to carbon neutrality.

Tear downs of existing houses in Arlington pose a major obstacle to having carbon neutral housing.   The tear down of an existing house and the building of a completely new conventional house typically uses about 50 m tons of carbon.  A new house in Arlington is often twice or three times larger in living space than the demolished house.  Since energy use is directly proportional to square footage, the new larger house built under current building codes will use at least twice as much energy although energy efficiency in the new building can cut perhaps 30 percent use.  Nevertheless, each older house demolished and replaced raises energy use by at least one hundred percent.

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September 30, 2020

Greens meet online, Wed, Oct. 7, at 7 pm–Join us

Events,green meetings — @ 10:25 am

Arlington Greens will meet online on Wednesday, October 7, starting at 7 PM.
Major topics:

Energy conservation advocacy for Arlington community energy plan
Election updates
Campaign to get a 5 cents per bag tax on single use plastic grocery bags in Arlington

Join us. For Zoom meeting information, email us at Info@greensofarlington.org

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September 19, 2020

Tear downs of old homes and building McMansions raises carbon emissions, and should be halted

Development,environment — @ 2:34 pm

The rising value of land and houses in Arlington has resulted in a very unhealthy rise in carbon emissions and other environmental damage because of the demolition of older and smaller houses and the building of mansions with often two or three times the living area of the demolished house. All living vegetation and trees are demolished on site to build the new house, and more open surface area is paved which thus increases storm water runoff and raises the temperature because of loss of tree canopy.

The County Board decided in 2019 to have a carbon neutral county by 2050.  The demolition and then the construction of a new house typically raises carbon emissions by about 50 metric tons. A remodeling of an existing house typically raises carbon emissions by 15 m tons. A typical house in the U.S. generates 7.5 m. tons of carbon a year; even if the new house generated 30 percent less than the demolished house, it would take 20 years to recoup the carbon used in the new construction. However, new and larger square footage houses use more carbon in operating energy than the demolish house.

Energy use of a house is proportional to the square footage of the house. Thus a typical new 4,000 square foot house in Arlington would use nearly twice as much energy as an existing 1,400 square foot house. If the new house meets high insulation and building tightness standards (perhaps 30 percent more efficient), then the new house uses only 100 percent more energy.

The only realistic way for the Arlington County Board to halt this tear down disaster is to impose a county wide zoning called a historic district designation on all Arlington neighborhoods. A historic district zoning de facto blocks tear downs of houses, but does allow for renovations and additions.

The historic district also requires that older trees and existing green space be preserved so that there is no loss of tree canopy. There is one Arlington neighborhood Maywood that has had a historic district since the late 1970s and in the 40 years, no house has been demolished although most have been renovated and expanded.

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September 4, 2020

Greens support 5 cents bag tax

environment — @ 11:30 am

Arlington Greens endorse 5 cents per plastic bag tax in Arlington
Greens at their Sept. 2 meeting endorsed the imposition of a 5 cents per plastic bag tax for single use grocery/retail stores. Greens support EcoAction Arlington’s petition to the Arlington County Board to impose this 5-cent tax and encourage everyone to sign the online petition now at
https:/www.ecoactionarlington.org

The goal is to present the petitions to the county board their November 14 meeting. The Virginia General Assembly authorized local governments to impose this tax.

When Washington DC imposed its 5 cent bag tax over five years ago, the use of grocery plastic bags dropped by 80 percent, resulting in less floating in the rivers and Bay. Virtually no plastic bags today are recycled.

About ten years ago Arlington Greens urged the county board to BAN these plastic bags but the county board refused and it has taken nearly a decade to get the county board to act on this environmental nuisance that clogs our storm drains, rivers and oceans.

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June 29, 2020

Greens meet online on Wednesday, September 2, starting at 7 pm

green meetings — @ 11:55 am

Join the Arlington Greens online on Zoom on Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 7 pm.

For Zoom meeting ID and password, email us at info@greensofarlington.org

Major topics:

Arlington commmunity energy plan–ideas for reducing carbon use in residents in Arlington

Affordable housing issues–update on preventing evictions in Arlington due to Covid

Green Party in Virginia: update on candidates and election in November

join us online.

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June 15, 2020

Arlington Greens Release Lecture on U.S. LEED Green Buildings by Oberlin college professor Scofield, Finding Minimal Environmental Benefit

Development,environment — @ 3:39 pm

June 15, 2020

The Arlington Greens announced today the release online of a talk on March 2 in Arlington by Oberlin College of Ohio professor John Scofield, a national expert on green building technology, on his research into marketing claims that green-certified buildings such as the LEED rating significantly reduce carbon emissions.  EcoAction Arlington, an Arlington environmental non-profit organization, co-sponsored the talk held at the Arlington County public library with the Arlington Greens.  The Arlington Independent Media and Miriam Gennari of the Sustainable Scoop recorded the talk and interviewed professor Scofield.

View the one-hour talk online   https://youtu.be/UeolxpvJzVk

Professor Scofield used energy data from hundreds of thousands of commercial buildings in ten major U.S. metro areas to examine if energy certifications like LEED (a trademark meaning “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”) significantly reduce carbon emissions over non-certified comparable buildings.  His findings demonstrate very small, almost negligible carbon savings.  Scofield found that carbon emissions reductions in LEED buildings are quite modest, generally well below 10 percent, and well below marketing claims of over 25 percent.

The research finding that LEED and other similar commercial building energy rating systems save only negligible amounts of carbon emissions is an important environmental policy issue for Arlington County and for many other U.S. communities.  Over 40 such certified buildings in the county got generous subsidies based on now discredited claims of substantial carbon emissions reductions.  Arlington County subsidies for bogus green energy technology wastes county funds which should be used to incentivize proven effective green technology that does substantially reduce carbon.

In 2019, the Arlington County Board approved a community energy goal that the county become carbon neutral within 25 years.  About 80 percent of carbon emissions in the county occur in commercial and residential buildings, and thus the county’s goal can only be achieved by large carbon emissions drops in buildings.   The county government’s past reliance on LEED and similar energy certifications to reduce energy use in commercial buildings now appears to be wrong.

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June 11, 2020

Making Eyes on the Prize: Reframing the Civil Rights Movement” on Tuesday, June 23rd at 6 pm

Jobs,peace,racial justice — @ 11:12 am
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June 10, 2020

Green Party National Co-Chair Trahern Part of Community Response in Minneapolis

racial justice — @ 4:01 pm

On Tuesday, May 25th Officer Derek Chauvin forced his knee on the neck of George Floyd for eight grueling, life-taking minutes until he died — as Officer Tou Thao looked on. Community members were present and recorded the horrific, traumatizing incident that has sparked protest and anger in the Black community across America.

The resident who recorded the event can be repeatedly heard telling the officers to stop — even as Mr. Floyd, himself, can be heard exclaiming that he could not breathe — because they knew they were killing him.

Darnella Wade, Co-Chair of the Green Party of the 4th CD (MN) said, “these officers need to be held accountable. This video shows the lack of humanity for Black Lives in the criminal justice system in the state of Minnesota and shows why all police officers in the State of Minnesota should be required to carry personal professional liability insurance for their position.”

Under such a policy, Officer Chauvin’s history of police misconduct and settlements would have disqualified him from insurance coverage, he would not have been employed by Minneapolis Police as an officer and so would not have been able to kill George Floyd for no reason at all and to the horror of an entire nation.

The officers were fired the following day. That is a first in the state of Minnesota, which has become ground zero for the fight in police accountability in recent years. The family of Mr Floyd, activists, organizations and community members have wanted more accountability and want charges to be filed against the cops who murdered George Floyd.

Toya WoodlandMinneapolis Green Party-endorsed candidate for congress in the 5th congressional district said, “we need Community Control of the Police. We should decide which cops get hired and fired in our community. This is why the FBI was called: because our local government is not equipped to protect the lives of Black residents from white supremacy and institutional racism”.

Protestors and family members gathered at the corner of 38th and Chicago to hold a vigil and protest that included nearly 20,000 people. Trahern Crews, Co-Chair of the Green Party of the United States and an organizer with Black Lives Matter Minnesota, declared, “George Floyd was a father, brother, uncle, and loved community member who was unjustly taken from us by a racist criminal injustice system. We are calling on all activists, community members and lawmakers to put pressure on the city of Minneapolis to hold these officers accountable and begin changing the culture of the Minneapolis Police Department”.

The National Black Caucus (NBC) of the Green Party of the United States has found “that these incidents are part of a larger, systemic problem stemming from the legacy of slavery and the devaluing of Black and Brown people and communities. It is time for a moratorium on police brutality in the name of public service,” stated Darryl! LC Moch, Co-Chair of the NBC and Chair of the DC Statehood Green Party. “Furthermore,” said Robin Harris, Co-Chair of the NBC and Co-Chair of the Florida Green Party, “we must build strong coalitions, advocacy groups, and elect legislators who will prioritize ending the brutal lynchings and killing of Black and Brown bodies at the hands of the government at all levels. We must hold governments and police departments accountable.”

Green Party national platform on criminal justice and ending police brutality

Green Party of the United States

National Black Caucus of the Green Party of the United States 
https://www.gp.org/caucuses#black

Released  May 27, 2020

 

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May 22, 2020

Arlington County Not Meeting Needs of Tenants in Pandemic—Thousands of renters headed for eviction and hunger

Affordable Housing,hunger — @ 4:15 pm

The Arlington County Board is not meeting the needs of Arlington tenants who lost jobs owing pandemic closings, and who now may lose their apartments if the county does not provide far more tenant assistance in the form of rent vouchers.  The county board so far has approved less than $2 million in federal and local funds for immediate rent relief, and at most approved another $2.7 million after July 1 even though the rental relief needs likely exceed $20 million.  A rich community like Arlington and a county budget of over $1.5 billion should be able to adequately fund rent relief and food assistance.

In March, the Arlington Greens petitioned the county board to use local tax dollars to provide $10 million for rent vouchers and food gift cards for tenants who have lost their jobs owing to Covid.  Greens then expanded the request to $22 million in April as the Covid worsened.  Greens pointed out that based on national unemployment data as many as 8,000 Arlington households may be unable to pay their rents.

On May 19, the county accepted $21 million in federal funds for Covid, but would only agree to spend $1 million to immediately help households with a $1,500 per month housing voucher for three months.  This amount will only help 220 households with a $4,500 housing voucher, far less than 10 percent of the need.

Social assistance agencies told the county government recently that at least 3,500 tenant households in Arlington have been unable to fully pay their rent in the past few months.  To provide a $4,500 housing voucher to each household to partially pay 3 months of back rent would cost about $16 million.   The number of households needing rental assistance will only rise as the pandemic lasts, and more households use up their savings so it is not unreasonable that 5,000 to 8,000 households will need rental assistance to avoid eviction.

Where could the county government quickly find $16 million in housing assistance funds without raising taxes?   The county board continues to fund  $18 million in construction costs to build new subsidized apartments in FY 2021 which have yet to approved or begun.  The county board should use this $18 million to fund housing vouchers for the 3,500 and rising households in Arlington who will face eviction shortly.

In addition to rental assistance, many households need food, and the Arlington food bank and church pantries are overwhelmed with tens of thousands of people asking for food.  A typical Arlington two-person household would likely need to spend at least $100 per week for food or $400 per month.   To meet half of the food needs of 5,000 households, would cost $3 million for 3 months.   The county has yet to provide even $1 million more in food aid.

The county government wastes far too many dollars on unneeded vanity projects including lavish subsidies to developers and business, and expensive new and often unneeded buildings.   The county can certainly find the $25 million or so that is now needed for rent and food assistance and get rid of bloated and unneeded expenses.

Queens Court

 

 

 

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