As part of our commitment to protecting the environment, the City of Falls Church became an EPA Green Power Partner in 2012 (read the Green Power Resolution here). This means that a certain proportion of the power we use in City facilities and streetlights (currently a minimum of 25%) has been generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, low-impact biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources. The Falls Church community followed suit in 2013, becoming the first EPA Green Power Community in the Commonwealth of Virginia. More than 3% of the power used in our community is renewable energy or "green power".
Improving & Strengthening Our Community
The use of green power is an environmental choice with significant impacts. Purchasing green power, or generating renewable energy on your property, is one of the easiest ways for community members to reduce their carbon footprint. Renewable energy plays a role in improving our environment and strengthening our economy by:
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Creating "green" jobs and stimulating the economy
Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels
Enhancing our nation’s energy security
Purchasing Green Power You can easily make a positive environmental choice to purchase green power. It is available as an option through your regular electricity provider, or you can visit http://www.green-e.org/ to find other certified renewable energy providers. If you do purchase renewable energy certificates from one of these providers, please let the city know so we can count them towards our green power goal.
Generating Renewable Energy
Solar: Some community members choose to generate renewable energy themselves by installing solar systems on their property. Purchasing and installing solar panels requires careful planning, but there are local programs to help make it easier. The City participates annually in the Solarize campaign organized by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, and Falls Church residents are usually also eligible to participate in solar co-ops organized by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy. Federal tax credits for solar installations are available in 2020 and 2021. The City's permitting process for solar installations is simple and helps to ensure your safety.
Geothermal: Geothermal heat pumps (GHP), which use deep, small diameter wells for heat exchange with the earth, are also an option in our area. If your existing HVAC system is 12-14 years old and nearing its likely end of life, you may want to consider a geothermal system. Total installed costs for a new home system may be in the range of $30-40,000 (in 2020), but compared to a gas furnace and electric air conditioning, the annual operating cost will typically be halved. Federal tax credits are currently available in 2020 and 2021, and are expected to be renewed. A permit will be required for drilling, so expect at least a 4-week lead time.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Using data collected and processed by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, city staff track community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Community GHG emissions in 2015 were lower than they were in 2005, even though our population has grown and the City continues a vital and successful program of economic and residential redevelopment. This is attributable in part to our choice to purchase green power.
The community’s emissions reduction goals align with those for the region established by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. The commitment, adopted by City Council Resolution 2017-12, is to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases below 2005 levels by 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Community members can contribute to achieving these goals by purchasing energy from lower emissions green power sources.