Environment

Community Outcome Area: Environment

Fairfax County is a place where all people live in a healthy sustainable environment.

Fairfax County is making progress through many of our environmental policies and practices that support air, water and land quality. It is important for people to have the opportunity to enjoy the natural environment, and that residents, businesses, county employees and visitors share in the responsibility to improve environmental outcomes (especially the reduction of greenhouse gasses). By continuing to make a wide variety of improvements, such as increasing the use of alternative energy, green roofs and stream restorations, as well as bike lane and pedestrian options, we will improve  the long-term environmental well-being of our county.

The strategies in this section seek to protect, conserve and sustain environmental resources to promote clean air, water and soil. To confront the challenges posed by climate change, the county will improve the resilience of natural resources and community infrastructure, and serve as a catalyst for community-wide action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Fairfax County residences and businesses.

Note: The original draft of the Countywide Strategic Plan was developed concurrent with the 2019 addition of the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination, and prior to Board of Supervisors acceptance of the Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) in September of 2021. The Environment community outcome area was also originally combined with Health, but these two areas were separated to ensure adequate focus on each area.

Therefore, one of the first steps of the implementation process will be to crosswalk the following proposed strategies with related countywide plans and make necessary adjustments, to ensure integration and alignment of this related work.

Challenge Questions

  1. How will we maintain and improve the quality of our air, water and land for the protection of our environment and our residents, and foster a thriving biodiversity as our population grows, changes and densifies?
  2. How will we engage with our residents and businesses while holding ourselves accountable to adopt conservation practices that address climate change and foster environmental sustainability?

Indicators

  • Promoting Air, Water and Land Quality
  • Supporting Sound Environmental Policy and Practices

Proposed Strategies

These proposed strategies were developed based on the extensive background work completed by the Countywide Strategic Planning Teams.  As previously noted, these strategies will be aligned with related work under the Environmental Committee. 

Promote and Ensure Environmental Sustainability

  • E 1. Reduce the county's contribution to greenhouse gases through better coordination of energy and climate best management practices throughout all county agencies, including items such as environmental stewardship and biodiversity of landscaping at county facilities, vehicle selections, building design, utilities and energy consumption.
  • E 2. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled by incentivizing walkable, bikeable and transit-oriented development patterns, adding more mass transit and on-demand travel options, and discouraging single occupancy automobile use.
  • E 3. Improve water quality and meet Chesapeake Bay clean water requirements through upgrading stormwater management facilities. Incorporate recreational facilities such as trails into stream restoration projects to better connect residents with the environment.
  • E 4. Improve the health of county waterways through maintaining effective stormwater controls and regulating development to protect environmentally sensitive areas to lessen adverse community impacts.
  • E 5. Prioritize stormwater and wastewater infrastructure and capacity reinvestment decisions to support development and redevelopment of more dense communities.
  • E 6. Reduce waste volumes through maximizing reuse/recycling, enhancing composting, phasing out single use plastics and packaging items and clarifying guidance to the community in the face of evolving practices.
  • E 7. Promote county policies, practices and regulatory programs to protect, conserve, establish and rehabilitate natural resources (e.g., tree cover, open green spaces, parkland) that provide ecological and health benefits.
  • E 8. Promote the use of solar and other green building technology through incentives and resources to encourage homeowners and commercial building owners to maximize energy efficiency.
  • E 9. Develop a climate action plan to improve community health and resilience, and to prepare for anticipated changes in weather patterns, rainfall intensities, residential and river flooding and tidal impacts. Improve community resilience through better planning, mitigation and response to increasing severity of weather events.

Sample Metrics

Indicator: Promoting Air, Water and Land Quality
Metrics:

  • # of unhealthy air quality days annually
  • # of heat advisory days annually
  • % of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction target met
  • # of linear feet of streams rehabilitated
  • # of negative occurrences (back-ups and overflows) per 100 miles of water/wastewater/sewer service
  • # of homes reporting flooding following a storm event
  • % of county covered by tree canopy
  • % of trees that are less than six inches in diameter

 

Indicator: Supporting Sound Environmental Policy and Practices
Metrics:

  • # of kilowatt hours of energy consumed in county buildings and facilities
  • % of energy used in county facilities that comes from renewable sources
  • % of square feet of county building space that is in a facility that meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or similar energy efficiency standard
  • % of square miles of Fairfax County that are impervious surface (e.g., roofs, paved surfaces)
  • # of tons of waste material that is diverted through reuse, repurposing or recycling
  • % of employees who work compressed schedules or telework at least 20% of their work week
  • % of vehicles registered to Fairfax County households that are electric-powered
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