Several months after County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) asked for an update to the local government’s 2009 energy strategy—which she said was award-winning when created, but largely ignored thereafter—county supervisors have heard that county employees have been quietly pushing toward a more energy-efficient government all along.
A Nov. 13 report to the board’s finance committee detailed a wide variety of efforts the county government has made since 2009, most of which occurred under the radar and went unreported.
Those include outreach efforts to businesses and residents such as participating in Solarize NOVA, which helps facilitate solar energy generation. There also has been a steady update of county government buildings and technology as older systems were replaced with energy-efficient ones. In 2009, the county spent more than $1.1 million on energy efficiency improvements at seven county facilities, and that work has continued. According to the report, between 2010 and 2013, the county replaced HVAC equipment at various county facilities, ending up saving an estimated $24,000 in energy costs. New county buildings are also designed to be more energy efficient.
Nonetheless, the goals in the 2009 strategy are very general, and in many cases the county has not done any formal tracking of progress toward them. One, for example, states that “Loudoun will have greenhouse gas emissions among the lowest in the country.” The report Nov. 13 found that will be difficult given Loudoun’s rapid growth.
Another policy from the 2009 strategy states “All major investments will visibly contribute to meeting the CES goals.” The county report simply reads, “There is currently no established means for implementation or quantification of this goal.”
“I think there’s a perception that the countywide energy strategy was done, passed, and then sat on a shelf and nothing’s happened with it,” said finance committee Chairman Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “And I think that that report demonstrates that that’s not the case, and in fact many of the things that were actionable were in fact implemented to the extent that staff could.”
But he also said the energy strategy would be back before his committee for more work, and proposed that he, Randall, and others work on updating some of the 2009 energy strategy’s goals.
Randall said the 2009 strategy’s “lofty statements” made it difficult to pinpoint its results.
“It’s not that we voted and put it on the shelf and didn’t do anything with it, but we didn’t do as much with it as we could have,” Randall said. “… We do have to start tracking it, because we don’t quite know where we’re at unless we track it.”