As world leaders meet in Paris to negotiate a global agreement on climate change, Fairfax County is working at the local level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This environmental challenge requires national and international solutions, but local leaders—and you—can play a role.
So let’s look at our plot of earth.
As part of our efforts, we conducted our first greenhouse gas inventory two years ago. This study, which covered a five-year period, looked at total emissions within the county. It tracked emissions from five sources:
- County government, including public schools
The study found that buildings and other structures, so-called stationary sources, produced 63 percent of the total emissions. These emissions resulted from energy use, primarily electricity. Cars, trucks, buses, trains and machinery created the remaining 37 percent of total greenhouse gases.
County government buildings accounted for 4.5 percent of the emissions from stationary sources. Homes and businesses, however, made up the majority of emissions in this category—76 percent.
To reduce our carbon footprint, we’re taking steps to:
- Use energy more efficiently
- Reduce energy use
- Prevent, avoid or capture greenhouse gas emissions
These efforts include many county policies and actions:
To learn more about these specific efforts and the county’s other environmental activities, read our Sustainability Initiatives report.
With simple, easy steps, you can help curb greenhouse gas emissions and save money.
- Install a programmable thermostat and turn down the temperature. When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees. If you do this for eight hours, you can save about 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills, based on the U.S. Department of Energy’s figures.
- Buy Energy Star-labeled appliances and electronics. Over their lifetime, these products in your home can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 130,000 pounds, says the EPA. And, they’ll save you $11,000 on energy bills. In some instances, rebates may be available for upgrading to more efficient appliances. Dominion Power, for example, offers its customers $50 to recycle their old refrigerators or freezers.
- Take public transportation. A typical passenger car produces just under one pound of carbon dioxide per mile traveled, says the U.S. Department of Transportation. In contrast, subways produce 76 percent less in greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile and buses create 33 less.
- Plant a tree. As they grow, trees sequester carbon dioxide every year, reducing CO2 in the atmosphere. A single tree can absorb up to 48 pounds of CO2 per year, according to research. Every little bit adds up. The total gross carbon sequestration from all trees in the county amounts to about 218,000 tons per year, according to county-sponsored research.
- Get expert advice. Energy Action Fairfax can identify energy experts to help homeowners and neighbors learn about common places where energy is wasted, steps they can take, energy audits and more.
- “Like” our Environment Facebook page, where you’ll find tips and resources such as a carbon footprint calculator: