Green-friendly vendors, informative seminars and Sweetgreen’s Sweetflow Mobile were a few of the highlights at the Green Living Expo held Saturday, March 19 at Washington-Lee High School.
The second annual Green Living Expo was organized by Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE), a group that promotes stewardship of our natural resources and solutions to a sustainable lifestyle to protect water, air and open spaces in the Arlington community. The expo featured an exhibit floor with local vendors sharing information about their environmentally-friendly products and services, crafts and activities for children and raffle items, as well as seminars in the areas of green living, sustainable eating and green living. Among the seminars to choose from were Connecting Kids to Sustainable Eating, Optimizing Efficiency and Renewable Technologies and Vegan Cooking.
Outside the school, expo attendees enjoyed food from Whole Foods Market and Sweetgreen and explored the Little Green House, a green building project created by high school students in Arlington Career Center’s construction trades, engineering, television, photography and commercial arts classes. The Little Green House is a miniature house on a trailer that was designed using sustainable building practices. It is transported to various community sites to promote environmentally-friendly home construction practices. Among the features of the house are a rain barrel, metal roof, solar panels and recycled wood residue subflooring and walls.
Also on display was a 2011 Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid vehicle that can run on either gas or electricity. The car can travel approximately 40 miles using only the electricity from the battery. When the battery is discharged, the car will automatically switch to gas and continue running. Charging the battery requires 12 kilowatt hours (about $1.40 worth of electricity).
Speakers who presented during the expo’s seminars shared Arlington’s current green efforts and provided tips for residents to reduce their carbon footprint. During the “Arlington’s Energy Future and You!” seminar, Rich Dooley, project manager for the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services’ Community Energy Plan, explained that 28% of Arlington’s greenhouse gases comes from transportation, while the rest comes from buildings.
The Community Energy Plan project, which will establish energy goals and strategies for the entire County, will result in an energy plan that addresses how energy is used in Arlington and offers strategies to enhance Arlington’s economic competitiveness, ensure reliable and affordable energy supplies and demonstrate the County’s long-term commitment to environmental responsibility.
A task force of local energy and business leaders convened by County Board member Jay Fisette has been examining short- and long-term energy goals and identifying corresponding actions necessary to meet these goals. The County Board is scheduled to consider the Community Energy Plan in May, Dooley said.
In 2007, each Arlington resident produced 13.4 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, the goal is to reduce this to 3 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per person in Arlington, stated Dooley. This reduction would put Arlington at the same level of greenhouse gas emissions as Copenhagen, Denmark, a city that has become a gold standard for environmental responsibility. For more information on the Community Energy Plan, visit www.arlingtonva.us/energyplan. Included on the website is an e-mail link for feedback on and questions about the Plan.
According to Dooley, Arlington is on the leading edge when it comes to community energy plans. Alexandria and Fairfax also are exploring similar efforts, he noted. To learn more about what individuals can do to reduce emissions, visit the Arlington Initiative to Reduce Emissions website.
Lawrence Nightingale’s seminar, “Northern Virginia Home Performance with ENERGY STAR,” addressed how his company can work with Arlington residents to assist them in making their homes ENERGY STAR-certified. Nightingale, an auditor with Home Energy Detective, also spoke about local efforts to protect the environment.
Solar Raisers is an ACE program that helps homeowners install solar hot water heaters with free labor and technical assistance from volunteers, while the Northern Virginia Rain Barrel Program provides residents with rain barrels that collect water from a home’s roof. Residents also have the opportunity to attend workshops to learn how to build their own rain barrels.
Sponsors of the Green Living Expo were Dominion Virginia Power, DryHome Sun Solutions, EmbroidMe, EnviroHomeDesign, Home Energy Detective and the Stella Group.