Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open to visitors by appointment only. Please call or email from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
703-324-7136 TTY 711
12000 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 533
Fairfax, VA 22035
John Morrill
Director

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Transportation Metrics

Transportation is relevant to climate change in two major ways. 

First, the transportation sector is the second-largest source of emissions in Fairfax County, accounting for about 43% of total GHG emissions in 2020. The Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) describes several strategies, including electrification, to reduce mobile emissions. The county’s Operational Energy Strategy (OES) addresses mobile emissions, as well, stating that by 2035 the county’s passenger and bus fleets will be electric or use non-carbon emitting alternatives, with some limited exceptions.   

Second, transportation infrastructure itself is vulnerable to climate change effects such as increases in flooding, extreme heat, and severe storms. The county’s Resilient Fairfax plan includes goals to make infrastructure better able to withstand the effects of climate change.

Thie page highlights climate-related metrics for the Transportation sector.

EMISSIONS REDUCTION METRICS FOR TRANSPORTATION

Increase EV Adoption 

ev adoption donut showing 19.4%Vehicle electrification is CECAP’s primary strategy to reduce mobile emissions.  Unlike conventional vehicles, electric vehicles do not emit greenhouse gases (GHGs) and short-lived air pollutants that are recognized environmental and public health hazards. EVs also use less energy per mile driven than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles due to the higher efficiency of their electric motors. 

CECAP sets a short-term goal of increasing battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to at least 15% of all light-duty vehicle registrations by 2030, corresponding to about 125,000 vehicles. CECAP’s overarching goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 assumes that by 2050 BEV and PHEV registrations will account for 42% of vehicle registrations, corresponding to about 335,000 vehicles. This strategy accounts for 19.4% of the emissions reduction needed to meet the 2050 CECAP goal. 

COMMUNITY (CECAP) GOAL: Increasing battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to at least 15% of all light-duty vehicle registrations by 2030

CECAP_ 30% transit and non-motorized commuting (including telework) by 2030 goal bar showing progress and achievement of 57%

COMMUNITY (CECAP) PROGRESS TO DATE: The EV market is advancing quickly with more models being added each year. Currently, there are 95 EV models available in the United States, a 40% increase over the year. Based on 2022 data, approximately 2% of light-duty vehicles registered in Fairfax County are BEVs or PHEVs, almost double the number registered in 2020.  The graph below further summarizes the total number of light-duty vehicles registered into BEVs, PHEVs, and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) for 2016 and 2020. HEVs with their higher fuel economy support the overall emissions reduction goal.

electric vehicle registration in fairfax county chart

COUNTY GOVERNMENT (OES) GOAL: The county’s Operational Energy Strategy sets a goal of transitioning the county’s fleet to fully electric or non-carbon vehicles by 2035. The progress bar below shows the status with the most recent data. While progress has been made, there remains significant work to be done. Fairfax County's vehicle fleet in 2023 includes 224 hybrid and 50 fully electric vehicles.

OES_ transitioning the county’s fleet to fully electric or non-carbon vehicles by 2035 with progress showing 1.5%

COUNTY GOVERNMENT (OES) PROGRESS TO DATE:  As of November 2023, 96 Level 2 charging ports are available at 11 county government facilities, including community centers, parking garages and government office buildings. 

Use our Interactive Climate Action Viewer to learn about locations for electric vehicle chargers both for county facilities and community access.

climate action viewer screenshot showing EV charging stations in the community

Reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled 

reduce vehicles miles traveled donut showing 3.7%CECAP promotes sustainable mobility and identifies three major pathways to reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), particularly by single-occupancy vehicles. This strategy accounts for 3.7% of the emissions reduction needed to meet the 2050 CECAP goal. To achieve VMT reductions, CECAP supports: 

  • the use and improvement of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure; 
  • the use and improvement of public transportation and commuter services; and 
  • Smart-Growth and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies. 

To advance this strategy, CECAP adopted a sector specific goal of reducing single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) use by increasing transit and non-motorized commuting (including teleworking) to 30% by 2030.

COMMUNITY (CECAP) GOAL: 30% transit and non-motorized commuting (including telework) by 2030 has already been achieved.

CECAP_ 30% transit and non-motorized commuting (including telework) by 2030 goal bar showing progress and achievement of 57%

COMMUNITY (CECAP) PROGRESS TO DATE: Since 2010, the percentage of trips traveling alone has been decreasing, and the share of less emitting modes of transit – public transportation, biking and walking, and telework have been on the rise.

 

Transportation modes in DC metro area (2010-2022)

Increase Fuel Economy

increase fuel economy donut showing 9%COMMUNITY (CECAP) GOAL: CECAP aims to reduce mobile emissions by supporting increases in both vehicle fuel economy standards and the use of low-carbon fuels for transportation. This strategy accounts for 9% of the emissions reduction needed to meet the 2050 CECAP goal.

COMMUNITY (CECAP) PROGRESS TO DATE: Federal vehicle emissions standards for Model Years 2024-2026 are expected to reduce fuel use by more than 200 billion gallons nationwide through 2050.  Effective January 1, 2024, Virginia begins adhering to California’s “Advanced Clean Cars” standards, which are stricter than those set at the federal level. Under current Advanced Clean Cars requirements, by 2035 all new cars, trucks, and SUVs sold must be zero emissions.

  • Advanced Clean Cars includes a low emissions vehicle (LEV) and zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) program.  
  • Advanced Clean Cars ramps up LEV standards through 2035. By 2035, all new cars, trucks and SUVs sold must be zero emissions. 
  • These standards could reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Virginia by about 40 million metric tons through 2040.

 

chart showing annual ZEV requirements from 2026 to 2035

RESILIENCE METRICS FOR TRANSPORTATION

A safe, efficient, and accessible transportation system is critical to a thriving community. When climate hazards affect our transportation infrastructure, there can be cascading impacts to many other sectors and services. Climate hazards affecting transportation infrastructure can include both long-term stressors (such as increased extreme heat) that accelerate degradation of the infrastructure over time, and short-term shocks (such as more frequent severe storms) that have immediate impacts. By assessing the vulnerabilities of our transportation infrastructure to changing climatic conditions, we can make ourselves more resilient to these impacts.

The table below provides an overview of the total climate vulnerability scores for Fairfax County’s roadways, public transit systems, and bicycle and pedestrian networks. These vulnerability scores were based on a combination of exposure (how exposed is the infrastructure to the hazard, and is that hazard increasing or decreasing?), sensitivity (when the infrastructure is exposed, does something bad happen?), and adaptive capacity (can the infrastructure adapt to changing conditions?).  For a detailed description of vulnerabilities, please see the Climate Vulnerability and Risk Assessment. An interactive map of these natural resources and certain climate hazards can be found in the Resilient Fairfax Interactive Map Viewer.

transportation vulnerability matrix

Roadways, Bridges, and Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Vulnerabilities

The roadway system in Fairfax County is largely owned and maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Very few public roads are owned by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT). The Dulles Toll Road is under the authority of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. The George Washington Memorial Parkway is under the authority of the National Park Service. In addition to public roads, there are privately-owned and maintained roads throughout the county, as visualized in this map. Roadways, bridges, and EV charging stations have a moderately high vulnerability to extreme heat, and a high vulnerability to inland flooding and severe storms.

map showing roadway transportation network in fairfax county

Roadways are highly vulnerable to flooding, which is one of the top hazards in Fairfax County. Roadway flooding, closures, and swift water rescues are reported in different ways. Data from 911 calls are one source of this information.  In Fairfax County, between June 2013 and October 2023, (3,710 days), there were 576 days with 911 records of roadway flooding, including roadway closures, water-related hazards, and swift water rescues. This means that on average, 16% of days in Fairfax County have 911 calls related to roadway flooding.

percent of days with 911 reported roadway flooding in fairfax county

Certain roadways flood much more often than others. The graph here shows the top 20 roadways that appeared in 911 reports for flooding. (911 data courtesy of Fairfax County Departments of Emergency Management, Fire and Rescue, Police, and Public Safety Communications).
 
top roadway flooding locations from 2013 to 2023 according to 911 data

Flood-compromised roadways are a serious safety concern, increasing the risk of road accidents, drownings, and reduced ability for emergency personnel to deliver aid. In addition to the vulnerabilities of the people using the transportation infrastructure, (which is the top priority), transportation infrastructure itself is sensitive to flooding. Flooding of roadways and bridges can cause erosion, structural failure, deterioration, debris, and overflowing of drainage systems, inflicting damage on surrounding environments and compromising road safety.

Fairfax County prioritizes flood-prone areas for flood risk reduction and transportation improvement projects. For example, Old Courthouse Road is one of the top flooding locations, and it is currently being upgraded to reduce flood risk and other issues. (See the Old Courthouse Road Realignment Project here).  For an interactive map of several flooding types, please see the Resilient Fairfax Interactive Map Viewer.

Transportation Infrastructure and Extreme Heat

Extreme heat is another top vulnerability for roadways, bridges, and electric vehicle infrastructure. 73% of roadway miles, 61% of bridges, and 98% of electric vehicle charging stations are in Urban Heat Islands, where land surface temperatures are significantly hotter. This is partially because transportation infrastructure itself (such as asphalt) can increase the Urban Heat Island effect by staying much hotter than green space. However, these heat islands also create vulnerabilities for the infrastructure itself.

Exposure to higher temperatures can damage and degrade transportation infrastructure more quickly, causing pavement to crack and EV chargers to malfunction. Most electric vehicle chargers operate optimally between -13F and 104F and can become dangerous in higher temperatures and humidity that is conducive to electrical arcs.

percent of roadways, bridges, and EV charging stations in urban heat islands

The map here shows an urban heat island with transportation infrastructure from the Resilient Fairfax Interactive Map Viewer. For additional roadway vulnerabilities, including those related to severe storms, please see the Vulnerability and Risk Assessment. For information on what the county is doing to boost resilience, please see the Resilient Fairfax plan.