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Green Buildings

Excerpt from Justin's October Newsletter

Buildings account for 39% of total energy use, 68% of electricity consumption and 38% of all carbon dioxide emissions. When buildings are built efficiently, redevelopment can be a powerful force to reduce our energy demands and improve our environment.

In 2009, the City Council adopted Alexandria's first Green Building Policy. The policy laid out a series of expectations of the development community, including LEED Silver for non-residential development and LEED Certified for residential development. The policy included flexibility so that developers could utilize other standards to ensure environmental sustainability of their development.

Meeting the standard requires a myriad of different techniques. Simply put, green building reduces the energy and water usage of buildings, while creating more livable homes and better spaces for work.

While these efficiency improvements are certainly positive for the environment and livability of these spaces, they are also extremely important to the affordability of residency. For those reasons, they were included as components of our recently adopted Housing Master Plan.

Since the adoption of the policy, 58 projects have been reviewed, with 42 of them complying and obtaining some third-party certification. In total, 91% of the approved new development floor area met the new policy.

Yet a lot has changed in the five years since the approval of this policy. Green building strategies have gone from being a novelty and luxury to being a market standard.

It may be time for Alexandria to look at our policy and decide how to improve it for the future. Fortunately, our Environmental Policy Commission is looking at this very issue and will be shortly bringing recommendations to the Council.

I'm hopeful that we can continue to strengthen our development community expectation to ensure sustainable development that lessens the impact on our City's air and water.



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