AIRE’s first emissions reduction goal is approaching. The goal, established in 2007, set out to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from County operations by ten percent (10%) from 2000 levels. We are confident that we will meet the 2012 goal when we present data in early 2013. As of the end of 2011, we have made immense progress towards the goal. Arlington County is currently at six percent (6%) below 2000 levels, and nine percent (9%) below the County’s peak emissions in 2008. The next AIRE goal for County operations will be set as part of the Community Energy Plan process, to be presented in draft form in late 2012.
Progress towards the AIRE goal has been made through:
- Building and facility efficiency improvements
- Street and traffic light efficiency upgrades
- Alternative vehicle fuels
- Water treatment plant efficiency improvements
- Green power
Challenges to reaching the goal include growth in County services in the form of:
- New buildings and increased facility square footage overall
- More street lights and traffic lights
- Increased capacity at the water treatment plant
- Increased quality in the water output at the water treatment plant – essential to protecting the Chesapeake Bay – which required a new, energy-intensive treatment process
All of these components combine for the total greenhouse gas emissions from County operations. The chart below shows how each component fits into the whole picture. RECs are shown as a negative bar representing the emissions they reduced. The County’s net total emissions are represented by the positive portion of the bars. The red line shows the goal for the end of 2012.
New information is emerging about the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from the generation of power by our utility, Dominion Virginia Power (DVP). It appears the GHG emissions per kWh of electricity produced by DVP have decreased about ten percent (10%) since 2000. This improvement, made possible through more efficient operations by the utility and a shift from coal to natural gas and wind as sources of power, is not yet reflected in our chart below. Our final accounting of our progress from 2000 to 2012 will address this in accordance with GHG reporting protocols.