Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination

Fairfax County, Virginia

 

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Our office is open 8:30AM-5PM M-F

703-324-7136 | TTY 711

12000 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 533
Fairfax, VA 22035

Kambiz Agazi, Director

WHAT WE DO

The Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination (OEEC) leads the county's cross-organizational development and implementation of effective environmental and energy policies, goals, programs and projects. OEEC engages county departments, authorities, businesses and residents to advance environmental and energy priorities and address community needs.

Learn More

From this page you can find information on the development the county's first-ever greenhouse gas reduction plan and the first comprehensive climate adaptation and resilience plan, locate resources and information to help improve the sustainability of your home or your business, and explore the latest news from Fairfax County on topics like clean energy and environmental conservation.

Latest News and Information

HVAC fan in motion

May 12, 2021 | 12:45PM
It’s easy to take for granted the relief we feel when we step into a cool, climate-controlled building or room after being outside in the summer heat. Similarly, when we open a fridge and pull out a cold drink, we don’t often think about the chemicals powering this basic household appliance. We are fortunate in Fairfax County to have access to modern amenities such as central air conditioning nearly everywhere we go, but what is the environmental impact of this technology? In what amounts to one of the greatest ironies of our time, the chemical compounds used to produce the cooling effect we so enjoy in an air-conditioned building and in our fridges and freezers have some of the most potent effects on global warming. Hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, are the predominant compound used in modern appliances to absorb and release heat, the basic process behind refrigeration. They are also up to nine thousand times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming our atmosphere. HFCs were embraced by industry following the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which effectively phased out the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), both of which were known to be depleting the ozone layer. As the deleterious effects of HFCs became apparent, world leaders organized to address the threat. In 2016, global officials gathered in Rwanda to establish a path forward to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of HFCs. In what is known as the Kigali Amendment, more than 90 countries committed to a mandatory phase out of HFCs beginning in 2019. In May 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule to limit the use of HFCs using a cap and replace system. This rule, which would begin to take effect with the first allowances set for 2022, is projected to reduce emissions substantially by 2050. All told, the EPA anticipates that the rule could lead to reductions equivalent to 4.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, or the same amount produced by the entire U.S. power sector over the course of a three-year time span. Time is of the essence. Between 2018 and 2019, emissions from HFCs in the United States increased by approximately four million metric tons. This rise is attributed to a measurable increase in heat waves and warmer temperatures across the board. It’s clear that urgent action is needed to curb the effects of HFCs, but what will this new cap and replace system mean for the average consumer of air conditioning and refrigeration? The good news is industry leaders have been developing alternatives to HFCs for several years at this point. By the time the new EPA rule goes into effect, viable alternatives to HFCs in household appliances and HVAC systems may be commonplace and available at comparable prices. Industry studies show that the lifetime cost of owning and operating an air conditioner (commercial or residential) is expected to decrease as HFCs are phased out, due in part to greater efficiencies with next generation coolants in the mix. For more information on the proposed EPA rule to reduce HFCs, please click here.

Electricity transmission lines

May 12, 2021 | 10:57AM
A lot of column inches have been spent describing and discussing the nature of “the grid” in recent months, especially in light of the impact of severe winter weather in Texas. The notion that there is a single piece of infrastructure that supplies electricity to our homes, businesses, schools, and communities is a misnomer. “The grid” is actually made up of thousands of different elements which are interconnected to move electricity from a point of generation through transmission lines and infrastructure to be distributed to end users. In 2016, the Energy Information Administration reported that the power grid in the United States is composed of more than 7,300 power plants with millions of miles of high- and low-voltage power lines delivering electricity to more than 145 million customers nationwide. The interconnected nature of the various elements creates redundancies and multiple paths for the delivery of power to different regions, to reduce the likelihood of service interruptions at the consumer level. This arrangement generally works well and is reliable, but many industry experts have also come to recognize the importance of creating and maintaining microgrids to bolster resilience in the face of severe weather and other adverse events. Put simply, microgrids are interconnected power infrastructure sourcing from a local point of generation. In other words, a smaller version of “the grid” that draws power from a local source. Microgrids are generally woven into the overall grid but are capable of disconnecting and operating independently as needed. Microgrids may draw power from a variety of sources and are often connected to renewable sources like solar arrays or hydro. By matching local energy demand to local sourcing, microgrids reduce energy loss in transmission, creating a more efficient system of electricity delivery. Additionally, microgrids foster energy independence and security by allowing individual buildings, campuses, and localities to control their energy supply and use. When paired with energy storage systems, microgrids become a holistic solution to some of the challenges posed by the larger, macro grid. To date, several microgrids are operational in Virginia including at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County. These grids allow a seamless transition to localized power sources in the case of a service interruption at the macro level, increasing security. For campus-based entities like military installations, colleges and universities, hospitals, and corporate headquarters, microgrids present a pragmatic and efficient risk management solution.

HomeWise program lock up

May 5, 2021 | 10:39AM
In October 2020, the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination (OEEC) launched a new program, called HomeWise, to educate, empower, and enable residents to make changes that reduce energy use, water use, and associated costs in their homes. Read on to find out what has transpired for the HomeWise program in its first seven months. Volunteer Recruitment and Onboarding In November 2020, the first class of HomeWise volunteers was selected and welcomed to the program. These volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, but all bring an interest in using their skills and interest in conservation to help the community. Volunteers went through initial onboarding in the late Fall in preparation for the program kick off in January 2021. Intensive Training In late January, the HomeWise volunteers began a 10-week training course, covering a wide variety of relevant topics and techniques to aid in their eventual community engagement work. Due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, all volunteer training was conducted virtually, with resources being shared via Google Classroom and volunteers convening periodically with county staff to review important concepts and skills. A week-by-week overview of the HomeWise training course is outlined below. Each week, volunteers were provided with environmental, technical, and community or social training pertaining to the topic listed. Training Week Topics Covered Week One Program Overview, Intro to Energy and Water Savings Week Two Understanding the Big Picture on Energy and Climate Week Three Understanding the Big Picture on Water Use Week Four Energy Vampires Week Five Showerheads, Faucets, and Toilets Week Six Light Bulbs Week Seven Review of Content Covered To Date Week Eight Weather Stripping and Air Leaks Week Nine Indoor Environmental Quality Week Ten Hands-On Skills Training     Preparation for Community Engagement In the course of their training, volunteers heard from three subject matter experts outside of the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination. HomeWise benefits greatly from the support of the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP), the technical advisor to the program. A representative from LEAP attended an early virtual training session with the volunteers to review key weatherization technical and safety concepts. Midway through the training course, a representative from the Fairfax County-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB), made a guest appearance at an evening training session and covered basic principles of habit formation and behavior change. Finally, at the conclusion of the training course, a representative from the Department of Family Services attended an evening training with the HomeWise volunteers and discussed fuel assistance, cooling assistance, and crisis assistance programs administered by the county. All of these training opportunities support the eventual deployment of the HomeWise volunteers into the community to assist low- and moderate-income residents with energy and water conservation and behavior change to realize cost savings. With the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic slowly shifting, the HomeWise team is working to establish concrete community engagement opportunities for the inaugural class of volunteers. HomeWise was always envisioned as an in-person, hands-on program and the ultimate goal is to send expertly trained volunteers out into the community on a regular basis to help implement meaningful change for residents. As in-person engagement becomes safer, the OEEC will announce and promote HomeWise events on this site, on Twitter, and on Facebook. Staffing Up As summer begins in earnest, the OEEC is seeking to hire a part-time staff member to support the HomeWise program and community outreach. More information on this opportunity is available online here, under “Management Analyst II – ELT-BOS-21000.” All interested and qualified individuals are encouraged to apply.
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