Fairfax County is embarking on a formal effort to address climate adaptation and resilience. The newly launched initiative, known as “Resilient Fairfax,” will encompass the development of a comprehensive Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan for the county and the community as well as the implementation of strategies to reduce risk to county residents, businesses, and infrastructure. This effort, which will engage county residents, representatives from county agencies, regional authorities, state agencies, utilities, the development community, and others providing critical services to the county, will aim to increase the community’s overall resilience to climate impacts.
Resilient Fairfax is led by the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination (OEEC). The OEEC is supported by a Planning Team of over a dozen County departments in addition to two advisory bodies: an Infrastructure Advisory Group and a Community Advisory Group. These groups will meet periodically between April 2021 and June 2022 to provide expert advice and community insight into Fairfax County’s climate resiliency needs. The OEEC is also assisted in the planning process by Cadmus, a strategic consulting firm with ample experience in climate planning, and their subconsultants, WSP, a professional services and engineering group, and Nspiregreen, a community and environmental planning firm based out of Washington, DC.
Members of the public will have the opportunity to participate in the planning process via public meetings and surveys, and in the Resilient Fairfax initiative at large as strategies are implemented community-wide in the years to come. An initial online survey is set to be released in early June 2021, with public meetings to follow. The survey will assess residents’ experience of climate risks and vulnerabilities, including flooding, severe storm events, extreme temperatures, and more.
The creation of a detailed vulnerability and risk assessment for the county is one of the first undertakings of Resilient Fairfax. This assessment will identify climate risks and vulnerabilities through the development of localized climate projections and a preparedness analysis. An audit of existing policies, plans, and programs will help reveal gaps and existing strengths, allowing county staff to proactively plan for coordinated implementation.
The Resilient Fairfax initiative complements the ongoing development of a Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from local sources. By addressing both emissions and climate impacts simultaneously, Fairfax County is demonstrating a commitment to a safe, sustainable, healthy, and economically prosperous future for all residents.