Arlington 'green' contest competitors sought

By Christy Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 28, 2010

Arlington County has fewer than 20 companies, property managers and office tenants signed up for its Arlington Green Games competition, and county officials are looking for more.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District, Public Broadcasting System and Monday Properties are among the competitors that will attempt to cut their carbon footprint over the next year by following about 30 ideas aimed at energy sustainability, said Sarah O'Connell, Arlington's energy outreach coordinator.

"It is a creative partnership between the county and private sector to help them save money and to help protect the broader environment," said County Board Chairman Jay Fisette (D). Friendly competitions, such as one that Fisette started with the Virginia Municipal League, "can be a helpful tool," he said.

Commercial office buildings in Arlington contribute 40 percent of the county's carbon emissions, O'Connell said.

"We would love to see both property managers and office tenants register and participate," she said. "Hopefully, we [can] come close to numbers in Chicago."

Arlington is one of four communities selected by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, an organization of about 1,200 local governments committed to sustainability practices, to run the program based on one in Chicago. The Chicago games had 150 participants and had energy reductions equivalent to removing 10,000 cars from the road for a year, O'Connell said.

"In many ways, I would think this is the kind of community that would perform at a higher per capita level, but [Chicago] is a much bigger city. That should be taken into account," Fisette said. "If it can work in Chicago, it can definitely work here in Arlington."

Office tenants and commercial property owners can sign up at the program's Web site,, and check out measures that will be used beginning Jan. 1. Office tenants will use an online scorecard. Commercial property managers will be guided by the Environmental Protection Agency's performance rating system, which helps track water and energy consumption, and be asked to share waste-diversion reports with the county.

Businesses will get support from training, networking, a Web series and brown bag lunch talks. The Arlington games also will partner with organizations that focus on energy and sustainability to provide experts at monthly support meetings.

The competition is part of the county's Fresh AIRE (Arlington Initiative to Reduce Emissions) and works towards larger goals being set by the Community Energy Plan. Companies will be honored for their efforts in 2012.

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