• For more information on Green Party membership or to contact Green Party leadership, email info@greensofarlington.org Join the Arlington Greens in person on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023, at 7 PM in the community room of the Ballston Firehouse located at Wilson Blvd and George Mason Drive.

September 7, 2023

Arlington community energy plan far short of goals during 2012-21, and carbon neutral buildings only way to ending carbon 2050

Community discussion, Sept. 6, 2023

Welcome to all in attendance tonight and a special thanks to Scott Sklar, and Demetra McBride.  Delegate Patrick Hope was going to speak tonight, but had to attend emergency session of the General Assembly in Richmond.

Our purpose tonight is to provide more information to Arlington residents about how the county can get to a carbon neutral future by 2050 as the county board determined as our goal in 2019.  Over the past decades, advances in building materials and solar and geothermal heating and cooling, and design have made it possible to build and operate homes and commercial buildings that are truly carbon neutral. 

It is far cheaper to build such buildings new rather than attempt to renovate, and thus critical to start with a carbon neutral design.  About one percent of existing buildings and homes are demolished or substantially remodeled every year, and thus over the next 30 years or so, all existing homes and buildings will be torn down or remodeled in Arlington.

Goal set in the CEP for carbon reduction:  36% drop during 2012-21

The county community energy plan (CEP) adopted in 2019 gave details on energy use in the county and some approaches to getting to carbon neutrality.  The CEP indicated that about 62 percent of carbon emissions in the county come from buildings, both residential and commercial, publicly and privately owned.  The focus must be on buildings if we are to get to neutrality at all.  The transport sector with electric cars and hybrids is fast advancing, and that is a sector completely outside the county government’s power to influence.

The CEP indicated that in 2012 carbon use per capita in the county was 11.3 metric tons; the goal was that carbon use by 2021 would drop by 36 percent.  In other words, in ten years, carbon use should drop by 36 percent if the 2050 goal of zero carbon is to be reached.  This is shown in the figure:  the CEP goal starting in 2012 index is 100, and by 2021 the index should drop to 64.

Actual carbon use in buildings in county dropped by 11% in 2012-21

In 2012, there were 1,780,000 metric tons of operating carbon used in buildings in Arlington in the form of electricity and natural gas.  By 2021, carbon use in buildings fell to 1,586,000 tons or by 11 percent.

As shown in the figure, the index for actual carbon use in buildings was 100 in 2012 and then fell to 89 in 2021.   Over these ten years, actual carbon use in buildings fell by 11 percent or by about 1 percent annually.   At this rate of decline, carbon neutrality will not be reached for 90 years or 60 years too late and the Planet fried.

County government influence to cut carbon use in buildings

The county government including schools) uses only a trivial amount (4 percent) of carbon in the county, and it has reduced its carbon use particularly in new school buildings that are carbon neutral like Discovery Elementary.  As far as influencing private builders, the county government has green building program based on LEED or Energy Star ratings that provide modest subsidies to new buildings that marginally cut carbon emissions.  Independent studies of these green building indexes indicate carbon reductions are quite modest or even trivial.  These are simply too little and too ineffective to rapidly cut carbon use in new commercial buildings. The county has no effective subsidy program for new or existing homes.

The most powerful tool the county has potentially to affect energy use in buildings is the building code for new buildings and homes.  The code is unfortunately in Virginia controlled by a state building committee in Richmond. 

This committee and most of the Virginia state government have resisted energy efficiency improvements to this code in part because of the pressure from gas and electric companies that will lose sales and because of the resistance of builders to change and innovation.  Energy conservation and carbon neutrality upgrades do add to the initial cost of the building, but this is more than offset by lower utility costs during the lifetime of the property. 

It is unlikely that Virginia will adopt a carbon neutral building code for the whole state and thus Arlington must get some control over the building code or carbon neutrality will never happen.  Other Northern Virginis jurisdictions could act as well to have a regional carbon neutral building industry with 3 million residents.


August 14, 2023

Carbon neutral houses and offices: only path to a carbon neutrality new building code, panel discussion, Wed. Sept. 6, 6:30 PM, Arlington Central Library.

Arlington County Board in 2019 adopted a carbon neutral goal for Arlington by 2050; about two-thirds of carbon emissions in the county comes from buildings, office and homes.  New homes and buildings must become carbon neutral in operating energy and in embedded construction  materials or the goal can never be realized. A building code that  mandates new carbon neutral buildings must be adopted first. 

Panelists:  Dr. Scott Sklar, GWU Solar Institute

Larry Smith, Arlington Green Homes LLC

Demetra McBride, Arl. Cty. Dept.of Env. Mgmt

John Reeder, Arlington Greens  

Delegate Patrick Hope, 47th district, Arlington

Location:  Arlington Central Library, 1014 N. Quincy Street,      Arlington VA 22201 (3 blocks from Ballston Metro) Time  6:30-8 PM,  Wednesday, Sept.  6, 2023


August 28, 2023

Building carbon neutral houses and offices, a community discussion, Sept. 6, 6:30 PM at Arlington Central Library

Uncategorized — @ 11:29 am

Arlington Greens are sponsoring a panel discussion of experts on building only carbon neutral houses and offices as the only pathway to Arlington becoming carbon neutral by 2050, a goal set by the Arlington County Board in 2019. Panelists include GWU professor Scott Sklar, Larry Smith of Arlington Green Homes LLC, Demetra McBride of the Arlington County Department of Environmental Management, and Delegate Patrick Hope, 47th district

The panel will be held on Wednesday, 6:30-8 PM, at the Arlington Central Library (1014 N. Quincy Street, Ballston). Arlington Greens chair John Reeder will moderate; attendance is free and questions are encouraged from anyone attending.

The county board adopted a carbon neutral goal for the entire county by 2050. Its community energy plan (CEP) indicated that at least 62 percent of total carbon emissions in Arlington VA come from homes, offices and buildings (mainly in the form of natural gas heating and electricity largely sourced from natural gas and coal).

The CEP goal was that carbon emissions in Arlington starting in 2012 would drop by 36 percent by 2021, Reeder indicated, but carbon emissions from homes and buildings actually declined by only 11 percent. Arlington population grew by 11 percent, total housing units by 12 percent, and total office space by 8 percent during this period using fossil fuel-based building technology.

A carbon neutral home uses no operating energy from carbon sources, and would mainly rely on on-site geothermal heating and cooling and solar panels; in addition, construction materials would have little or no embodied carbon from fossil fuels, but rely on wood and recycled materials.

Delegate Patrick Hope (47th district, Arlington) will address how the statewide building code can be changed to allow Arlington and other localities to impose a carbon neutral building code within their localities for new houses and office buildings. Professor Sklar will address carbon neutral office buildings and a green home builder Larry Smith discuss how to build carbon neutral houses. Demetra McBride will discuss details of the CEP.


August 25, 2023

Greens meet on Oct. 4, Wed 7 PM

Uncategorized — @ 2:04 pm

Arlington Greens will meet on Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 7 PM at the Ballston Firehouse Community Room located at Wilson Boulevard and George Mason Drive, Arlington VA.

Major topics:

How to get a carbon neutral building code in Arlington for new structures

Environmental positions of current county board candidates on November ballot


October 13, 2022

Arlington Greens support the Metro and sewage plant bonds, but oppose the four other bonds on the November 2022 ballot in Arlington

Uncategorized — @ 11:53 am

Arlington voters have been asked to approve or deny a total $510 million in 6 different bonds on the November 8 ballot, a staggering amount of funds even given Arlington’s high tax base.  This $510 million in new debt will largely exhaust the county’s ability to issue any new bonds for the foreseeable future.   Annual debt service at 4% interest on municipal bonds would obligate the county to spend annually $29 million for the next 30 years.  Greens believe that only the Metro bond and sewage plant/drinking water bond merit approval at this time.

At their October meeting, Arlington Greens voted to support the $177 million bond to upgrade the sewage treatment plant and drinking water system, a $53 million bond for Metro and transportation.    Greens believe that the county’s sewage treatment plant and drinking water service must be upgraded to meet the needs of more residents as well as EPA environmental requirements.   In addition, Greens believe Arlington must continue to fund Metro rail, Metro bus, and to repave and maintain county streets.

Greens voted to oppose the four other bonds:  the $22 million for recreation projects; $53 million to fund new courthouse buildings; $165 million to build another high school; and $40 million for gray infrastructure for storm water.  These projects have not been well thought out and precise goals and engineering studies not conducted to provide voters with good information.  County and school officials need to do more planning and make a better case for these four bonds. The $165 million school bond includes $136 million for a new high school off Columbia Pike for a new vocational school.  The school board has not completed its work on the scope purpose, and details for a new vocational/technical high school.   Arlington public school enrollments have fallen since the pandemic and yet to recover to 2019 level.   More critical issue is raising staff salaries to attract and keep more bus drivers, aides and teac


June 6, 2022

Greens ask County Board to delay missing middle upzoning

Uncategorized — @ 12:59 pm

Letter to the Arlington County Board from Arlington Greens

Dear County Board members:
Arlington Greens ask that you delay any consideration of the missing middle zoning proposal until at least the Fall of this year.  We discussed and approved this position at our June meeting.

Greens are concerned that the proposal is not well thought out, may have negative effects on the environment of our county, and well not focused on affordable housing.   Loss of tree canopy and open unpaved surfaces in detached family neighborhoods will have the effect of greatly increasing storm water runoff, increasing the temperatures in Arlington in warm months, and may well negatively affect the air quality.

The “missing middle” proposal does not explicitly identify the income levels of beneficiaries of more “middle income housing,” but implicitly these are households in the middle bracket for income making about $140,000 to $165,000 annually.  In 2022, the median household income in Arlington is about $154,000, the median house is t $704,000, and the median rent is $2,000 a month ( Arlington, Virginia Population 2022 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs) (worldpopulationreview.com)

Presumably, the purpose of this zoning change is to increase the housing supply for households in the median income of around $154,000 a year.  A household earning $154,000 a year can today afford a 30-year mortgage (with standard down payment) on a residence valued at or below $704,000 or this household could afford a rent of about $4,000 a month (using HUD rental guidelines).  Zillow now lists over 200 homes for sale in Arlington for under $704,000 today (mostly condos and townhouses), and 320 rental units for $4,000 or less a month.  The private market today does provide a good supply of rental or home purchases choices if somebody makes $154,000.

There is no “missing” supply of rental or for-purchase units in Arlington County today for households making around $154,000 a year.   There is nothing missing in the supply today for somebody making $154,000.   Any argument to the counter is not supported by economic data on housing.  What is “missing” in the “missing middle” is logic and economic facts.

The real shortage of supply of housing options is for households making under $50,000 a year.  There are virtually no rental units affordable at that income level of an affordable rent of $1,200 a month, far below the median $2,000 rent.   Thus, the “missing housing supply” is for households in the bottom 25-percent income group rather than those in the 50-percent income group.

The missing middle proposal is based on bogus assumptions or faulty data or is designed for some other purpose than generating a supply of housing units for households making the median income in Arlington today.  In any event, this proposal is not ready for community evaluation and needs to go back to the drawing board.
Thank you for your consideration, the Arlington Greens


January 27, 2022

Greens support changes to state historic preservation law to block demolition of nominated historic sites, and allow historians court access

Greens support changes in the the Virginia Historic Preservation law (section 15.2-2306 of the Code of Virginia)  (as written in Senate Bill No. 206 and House Bill No. 1210) to do two things:

                                    Stop the demolition of nominated historic sites, buildings, houses and landmarks until the local government with input from local residents and historians has completed its review and decision whether to designate a nominated site, and 

                                    Allow local residents and historians who nominate a historic site to have access to court review of locality final decisions to ensure that the state law is followed.

Please sign the Moveon.org petition to the Virginia General Assembly.

It is important that historic houses, sites, buildings, and landmarks and areas should be preserved throughout the Virginia, but our current historic preservation law is flawed and should be changed to help keep threatened historic sites as much as possible.  Bulldozers move into demolish nominated sites before the local historic review process is completed.  Local residents and historic advocates have no access to ask for court review and thus often the state historic law is ignored. 

In 2021, the historic Febrey-Lothrop-Rouse (FLR, a graceful 175-year old mansion that had served as Union army hospital, was demolished just a few weeks before the Arlington County Board public hearing and vote on local historic designation despite the pleas of over 1,400 residents and historians. The county board voted against designation and historians were kicked out of court as having no rights to ask for court review.

Local governments must have the time to consider and approve or disapprove historic designation of a site or building or landmark and during that time no demolition or destruction of the nominated site, building or landmark should be allowed.  Further, under current state law, petitioners and advocates for historic preservation have no right to seek court review of a locality decision to deny historic protection as to whether this decision violated the state law.  Petitioners for local historic protection must have the same access to the courts as only property owners do today.

This petition with a listing of its signers will be delivered to the patrons of the legislations in the Virginia General Assembly, Senator Chap Petersen (Fairfax) and Delegate Patrick Hope (Arlington).   Signers may also email their own Virginia delegate and senator directly if they so choose (find your Virginia state legislator and email here  https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/)


October 7, 2021

Arlington Greens oppose the $6.8 million Parks and Recreation Bond as wasteful, and urge voters to reject this bond on the November ballot

Arlington Greens on Oct. 5, 2021 voted to oppose the parks and recreation $6.8 million bond on the November ballot for Arlington voters, and urge voters to vote ‘no” on the ballot.   Nearly three-quarters ($5 million) of this bond will be used to repave tennis courts at Bluemont Park, and then $1 million for a new Arlington boathouse.  

Greens believe spending $5 million to repave tennis courts to be wasteful and too expensive.  A new boathouse is unneeded as there are plenty of high-school rowing facilities in the District of Columbia, used for decades by high school teams, private and public schools.

During 2016-20, Arlington voters already approved $52 million for parks and recreation, an amount mostly used to build new recreation centers.   The county board refused during this period to buy more parkland to accommodate Arlington’s rising population and heavy park use.  In April 2021, the county board voted to deny historic preservation for the 9 acre Febrey-Lothrop estate which is the last largest tract of open, undeveloped land in the county that could have been added to Arlington parks.

The Greens are neutral on the other three bonds on the November ballot–which total $79 million ($39 million for Metro and transportation; $23 million schools, and $17 million county infrastructure).  There are good reasons to approve these bonds, but also compelling reasons to reject them. 

During 2016-2020, voters approved $653 million in bonds for these three purposes–$164 million for metro and transportation; $295 million for schools, and $194 million for county infrastructure, a significant amount even for a county with an over billion dollar annual operating budget.  The school board has nearly $27 million in bond authority not used, and the county board $54 million in unused bond authority to issue more bonds.


September 24, 2021

Arlington Greens support 5 cents per plastic bag tax, but prefer a total ban on plastic bags

environment — @ 2:10 pm

To: The Arlington County Board September 16, 2021

We would like to encourage you to approve a 5 cent per plastic bag tax for single use plastic bags given away at supermarkets and large retailers.  It is my understanding that the county board will consider this tax at your September 18 meeting.

The City of Roanoke is the first locality in our state to adopt this bag tax.   Arlington should similarly adopt the tax as it will greatly reduce the volume of plastic bags now given away at mass retailers in Arlington.

This tax is not perfect since the General Assembly only included large retail chains and many small businesses will not be affected.   Nevertheless, based on the experience of other US cities, this tax will cut the volume of plastic bags in commerce; as you know, the vast majority of plastic bags are not recycled but end up in solid waste or in our oceans and streams and rivers and bays causing environmental damage.  The county has banned plastic bags from the recycling program as well so few options to recycled these bags exist here.   

We the Arlington Greens over a decade ago asked you to simply ban all plastic bags using in commercial business in Arlington using your legal authority from Virginia solid waste regulations that the Virginia Department of Environmental quality said authorized such an ordinance. 

But you collectively said no to this sensible ban.   Many countries of the world and some US states simply ban single-use plastic bags in commerce and that is the most sensible policy we should adopt here in Arlington.
So we support the 5 cent bag tax even though it is only a half way measure that will not eliminate the menace of plastic bags which should be banned. 

  We ask you to once again consider a simple ban of plastic bags from all businesses here in Arlington and that way we could get rid of this menace.

John Reeder chairman  the Arlington Greens


March 18, 2021

Greens ask county board to increase housing (rental) grants and emergency housing assistance in fy 2022

Uncategorized — @ 12:15 pm

Arlington Greens support the county manager’s proposal to increase FY 2022 spending on housing grants to $12.7 million, and also the $17.5 million proposal for emergency Covid spending that includes emergency rental assistance for unpaid rents, food assistance and related help to residents who lost income or jobs during the pandemic.   

While the good news is that widespread vaccinations will make possible reopening, many tenants are facing unpaid back rents and need help in FY 2022 to avoid eviction.
We have reservations about the $8.9 million the manager proposes to spend for AHIF to fund the building of more subsidized apartments CAFs) next fiscal year. 

There is a glut of market rate apartments and subsidized units available for rent today in Arlington, and now is a bad time for any new units to enter the market, private or nonprofit. 

Commercial realty companies report that rents in Arlington for apartments have dropped from 8 to 15 percent in the past 12 months, depending on the neighborhood, and there are at least 15% of existing apartments are now vacant.  The county housing division this month listed about 100 CAFs available for rent, and thus even CAFs are empty, and the nonprofit providers having a hard time renting existing CAFs. 

The best way to provide housing assistance right now is a housing voucher or an emergency grant to pay back unpaid rents.  There are still thousands of renter households who maintained their jobs but still pay over 50 percent of their incomes for rent (generally tenant earning under 50% of the area median income).  The county should shift all of the new AHIF funds into housing grants or emergency back rent grants so that tenants can stay in their apartments and not have a heavy housing cost burden.

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