Home Energy and Environment Fairfax Falsely Claims “Energy Dashboard” Would Cost “astonishing” $14.8m; Actual Cost...

Fairfax Falsely Claims “Energy Dashboard” Would Cost “astonishing” $14.8m; Actual Cost $125k

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From the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions; so much for Fairfax County’s “Cool Counties” commitment?!?

When I was a boy, my mother told me not to speak when I was angry. That advice stuck with me. That’s why I’ve taken almost a month to write to you about what happened in early February at the meeting of the Fairfax County Environmental Committee.

A work commitment prevented me from attending that day. But several FACS members who did attend told me what happened.

The conference room at the County Government Center was filled to capacity as Jose Comayagua Jr. of the facilities management department led Chairman Sharon Bulova and the other Supervisors through a PowerPoint presentation. The conclusion: an energy dashboard – which Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions has been promoting for months with Supervisors and staff as tool to increase energy efficiency and save taxpayer money – would cost an astonishing $14.8 million to set up and $3.5 million annually to operate!

“It’s really not that useful,” declared County Executive Ed Long, who was sitting nearby. 

Every expert I have talked to since then has shaken their head and chuckled at the County’s cost estimate. 

Energy Efficiency Isn’t Sexy

It’s not like building Tysons Corner or extending the Silver Line. It’s not like maintaining the quality of our schools or building more affordable housing. Energy efficiency is asking that we do more with less. Increasing energy efficiency is recognized as the most effective way to quickly reduce the CO2 emissions that are causing the heat trapping blanket around the earth that is disrupting our climate and endangering our grandchildren.

Did you know Virginia is ranked 35th of all states in energy efficiency? Despite what Fairfax County say, the County is far behind behind Arlington County, the District of Columbia, and Montgomery County, Maryland in commitment and measurable progress. 

Accountability

County officials say they are already doing so much. But do you know what they are doing to address climate disruption? We’ve been studying it for months, and we don’t either.

That’s what an energy dashboard is all about. It’s a baseline of measurement; a means to determine what buildings are efficient and which ones are not. It’s a window into County operations that will provide accountability. But it appears Fairfax County is not interested in accountability to voters.

When Supervisor LindaQ.Smyth of Providence District asked if, rather than adding the cost to the County’s tight budget, alternate means of financing have been examined, Mr. Comayagua replied, “We’ll look into it.”After the meeting, FACS member Scott Peterson asked Mr. Long why alternate financing had not been examined, when FACS had provided three alternative financing mechanisms? Long said we should send another memo. 

It’s About Commitment

Instead, I contacted two energy management software companies that have successfully mounted publicly-facing energy consumption websites for Washington DC, Los Angeles, Boston,and New Orleans, as well Fortune 500 companies. Within a few short years, investments in dashboards paid off and significant savings piled up.

How Much for Fairfax County?

For all 450 County and Fairfax county public school buildings, the higher of the two cost estimates was $125,000 plus $55,000 annually for maintenance.

You read that correctly. In my next post, I’ll provide more details. 

My mother was right. It’s a bad idea to speak when you are angry. But my mother was also a very determined woman who seldom took no for an answer. That’s something I learned from her, too. 

Eric Goplerud

Executive Director, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions