Alexandria, VA – Alexandria is thinking green! Later this month, the Alexandria Planning Commission will discuss the Phase 2 updates to the Green Building and Land Use and Open Space sections of the city’s Environmental Action Plan. The occasion will mark the first consideration of Green Building updates in Alexandria in a decade.
“This new policy reflects the collaboration of [the Green Building Task Force], “ Mayor Justin Wilson wrote in the June 2019 issue of the Council Connection. “[The group] met for several months to arrive at this new direction.”
Ten years ago, the City Council adopted the first Green Building Policy. The policy focused on expectations for the development community. It emphasized LEED certification – the most prevalent green building rating system – for both residential and non-residential development in the city.
To meet the standard, builders must utilize a range of techniques, all in an effort to achieve sustainability.
“The total energy use of projected future development will be reduced by 20 percent compared to if those buildings were built to the City’s current 2009 Green Building Policy standards,” according to the city staff report. “This equates to a reduction of more than 63,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) per year.”
Green building is crucial because it reduces energy and water use. Under the proposed plan, potable water use of projected future developments are projected to be reduced by at least 421 million gallons per year, or a 29 percent reduction in water use from new construction.
“When constructed efficiently,” Wilson wrote, “redevelopment can be a powerful force to reduce our energy demands and improve our environment.”
Since the adoption of the first policy, 95 percent of development constructed or under construction reportedly met the city’s standards. But much has changed over the last decade, as Green building has evolved from a luxury to cultural necessity for many communities.
“I am excited that we are advancing this policy initiative,” Wilson wrote. “The new policy proposes to raise the bar, with all private development being requested to meet a LEED Silver standard, and all public development being required to meet a LEED Gold standard. In addition to LEED, the proposed policy also allows for alternate certification options, including Green Globes and Earthcraft.”