Fairfax County Public Works Employees Earn ‘Green’ Certifications


Feb. 8, 2017
For Immediate Release

Fairfax County Public Works Employees Earn 'Green' Certifications

Four employees of the Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division (MSMD) recently earned their certifications from the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program (NGICP).

These four join the ranks of only 62 certified individuals in the entire United States.

The newly-certified MSMD employees are in the inaugural group of NGICP certification holders. The first NGICP exam was held on December 13, 2016 at various locations. The class and the certification were free to county employees. All of the NGICP-certified individuals are listed here.

Chris Porter, heavy equipment operator, Paul Dutilly, motor equipment operator, Shawn Jones and Chris Kielsgard, both senior maintenance workers, all of the Maintenance Operations Branch, MSMD, were presented with their certificates on January 26.

"I am very proud of these employees for successfully completing this training and passing the required exam," said Bobby Kerns, Maintenance Operations Branch Chief. "They represented the employees of the Maintenance Operations Branch very well and they should feel really proud of this accomplishment."

According to the NGICP web site, "Stormwater management practices that protect, restore, or mimic the natural water cycle are referred to as green infrastructure. It is a collection of engineered systems that utilize natural or 'green' approaches to manage stormwater locally. Stormwater is stored temporarily at or near where it falls to be used by trees and vegetation, stored and used later for irrigation, or allowed to soak into the ground through layers of soil, which removes pollutants from the stormwater through natural processes."

"Employees who gain this type of certification help Fairfax County move away from infrastructure practices that are made up of gutters, basins and pipes that transport stormwater quickly to local streams, rivers and lakes," said Bobby Kerns. "Green infrastructure, among many other advantages, improves water quality and preserves the natural habitat."

Fairfax County partnered with the Water Environment Federation (WEF), DC Water and other jurisdictions to craft the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program that targets maintenance personnel who work specifically on green infrastructure and sets national certification standards for the construction, inspection and maintenance of green infrastructure.

Based on recent amendments to Virginia's stormwater management regulations, many of these practices are now more accepted for site specific post-construction stormwater management, and many are preferable in Virginia's new post-development runoff reduction calculation method.

Fairfax County recently amended its stormwater management ordinance to comply with the newly developed state standards, and now sees the development community utilizing many of these green infrastructure practices on a regular basis. In addition, the county also uses many of these practices for post-construction stormwater management on county sites, including retrofits on existing properties. Green infrastructure as a percentage of public and private post-construction stormwater management continues to grow. Such green practices now constitute roughly 28 percent of the county's total post-construction stormwater management facility inventory, and that percentage will likely continue to rise as new and re-development projects move forward under the county's new ordinance.

"I really appreciate the opportunity to become certified," said Chris Kielsgard. "This gives us the prospect of moving up to higher positions within the county," he said.

"What is really great is that our certifications are not just for us," Chris Porter said. "It's for the county as a whole. Now we can do more to assist the county in reaching its environmental goals. I feel great about that." Previously, Chris Porter took erosion and sediment (E&S) control classes to learn how to prevent destruction of property and natural resources caused by "soil erosion, sedimentation and nonagricultural runoff from regulated land-disturbing activities. Erosion caused by excessive water runoff is one of the most severe types of erosion in developing areas," according to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

The NGICP class was five days in length that concluded with a 141-question exam with a pass or fail outcome. "The classes were really good," Paul Dutilly said. "The instructors were very knowledgeable. I'm really grateful for this continuing education that enables us to do our jobs better, and opens a career path for us," he said.

With this certification, these employees are better equipped to inspect bio-retention and low impact development installations and other stormwater management facilities. All of which supports the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System or MS4 permit obligations.

"The notion of green infrastructure as a mindset will mean the long-term reduction of the necessity for maintenance," Chris Kielsgard said. "An environment that cleanses itself, or brings developed areas back to their natural state, is good for everyone. It's about conservation and preservation of the environment," Chris said. "All of which benefits Fairfax County residents and the Chesapeake Bay."

There are plenty of additional advantages of green infrastructure, according to the NGICP web site:

  • Creates a more pleasant environment by creating "green" features (collections of trees, bushes, and plants) distributed throughout developed areas
  • Reduces the amount of 'dark surface' that collects and holds solar heat and allows new opportunities for trees and bushes to create shade; both of these reduce the "heat island effect" in cities and developed areas
  • Reduces the overall stormwater volume that is conveyed to local streams and rivers which reduces the overall risk of flooding and erosion
  • Provides treatment by filtering or removing stormwater pollutants such as heavy metals, nutrients, sediment, and pathogens from runoff, which helps protect local streams, and rivers
  • Temporarily stores stormwater locally to be used by trees and vegetation, reducing the amount of potable water that is needed for watering and irrigation
  • Creates pervious surfaces that absorb rain and runoff, allowing water to penetrate into the soil and replenish groundwater aquifers
  • Increases community green space which encourages more outdoor recreation
  • Contributes to urban renewal
  • Creates new long term green jobs to perform construction, inspection and maintenance of green infrastructure.

 

Fairfax County Public Works Employees Earn Green Certifications
Caption: NGICP certificate winners are (left to right) Paul Dutilly, Shawn Jones, Chris Porter and Chris Kielsgard.

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Contact: Irene Haske,
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services 
703-324-5821, TTY 711

 


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