Newsletter

The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve searched the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean, and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Tuesday (Oct. 19)

  • Fighting Climate Change in Fairfax County — 7-8:30 p.m. at Patrick Henry Library (101 Maple Ave. East) in Vienna — Rev. Dr. Jean Writing of the nonpartisan Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions and Kambiz Agazi, director of Fairfax County’s Office of Environmental Energy Coordination, discuss what can be done at a local level to address climate change.

Wednesday (Oct. 20)

  • Passion Bachata Wednesdays — 8:15 p.m. at The Salsa Room (8453 Tyco Road) in Tysons — No partner is needed for these beginner and intermediate dance classes led by instructor Marcelo Troncoso. Cost is $20 plus fees.

Thursday (Oct. 21)

  • Happy Hour Bingo Series — 6-8 p.m. at The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Road) — The mall closes out its Summerfest with one last round of bingo and brews. Check-in opens at 5:30 p.m., and participants can enjoy live music and themed retailer pop-ups while playing to win special prizes.
  • Washington West Film Fest — 7 p.m. at ShowPlace ICON Theatre (1667 Silver Hill Drive) in Tysons — The film festival kicks off at The Boro with an opening night reception and screening for Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch.” There will be movies and shorts at venues across Tysons and Reston through Monday (Oct. 25). Tickets for most showings are $15 plus fees.

Friday (Oct. 22)

  • Tysons Block Party — 4-11 p.m. at The PARC (8508 Leesburg Pike) — Check out the newly named and repurposed venue for local brews, lawn games, and dancing. The party continues from 12-11 p.m. on Saturday with pumpkin decorating and other activities, followed by dancing at 7 p.m.
  • Pat McGee Band with Scott Kurt — 8 p.m. at The Barns (1635 Trap Road) — Acoustic-driven rockers return to Wolf Trap. The group, which started in Virginia, has shared the stage with acts ranging from The Who to James Taylor. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $40 plus fees.

Saturday (Oct. 23)

  • “An Evening in Italy” — 8 p.m. at Capital One Hall (7750 Capital One Tower Road) in Tysons — The Virginia Chamber Orchestra, featuring pianist Brian Ganz, performs Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488” along with pieces by Rossini and Mendelssohn. Tickets start at $40 plus fees, but students can get $25 tickets through Ticketmaster and at the box office.

Sunday (Oct. 24)

  • Wu Han and Friends — 3 p.m. at The Barns (1635 Trap Road) — Performing the works of composers from Dvořák to Brahms, this quartet features Wu Han on piano, Arnaud Sussmann on violin, Matthew Lipman on viola, and David Finckel on cello. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 plus fees.
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Morning Notes

Environmental Advocates Urge Warner to Act on Climate — “Environmental activists protested outside the Tysons Corner office of Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) Thursday afternoon, calling on him to commit to ending federal fossil fuel subsidies as Congress debates separate budget and infrastructure bills.” [Patch]

Tysons Area Beltway Lane Closures Start Tonight — “The southbound I-495 (Capital Beltway Outer Loop) general purpose lanes will have nightly triple lane closures along the three bridges over the Dulles Toll Road (Route 267) and related ramps, weather permitting, Friday, Aug. 27 and Saturday, Aug. 28 for restriping to implement a temporary traffic shift for bridge joint work.” [VDOT]

McAuliffe Leads Gubernatorial Poll — “Democratic candidate for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is ahead of his opponent, Republican Glenn Youngkin in the latest poll released Thursday morning. McAuliffe is leading 50% to 41%, according to Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center-AARP poll. About 6% of voters remain undecided two months ahead of the November 2 election.” [DCist]

Deadline Approaching to Recognize Vienna Volunteers — “Nominations are now being accepted for volunteers who are worthy of recognition as Vienna Hometown Heroes. Since last year’s event had to be cancelled for pandemic-related reasons, this year’s celebration will recognize individual and group volunteer efforts for 2020 and 2021…Nominations for individual heroes are due Aug. 31.” [Town of Vienna]

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Rooftop solar panel on house (via Vivint Solar/Unsplash)

On the heels of last week’s sobering United Nations climate change report, Fairfax County is beginning to implement its first-ever Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP), which sets goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Fairfax County staff delivered a final update of the CECAP to the Board of Supervisors during its environmental committee meeting on July 20. The board is expected to accept the report when it meets on Sept. 14.

The CECAP provides an inventory of current greenhouse gas emissions and recommends actions that the county and individuals can take to mitigate future emissions in order to achieve carbon neutrality within three decades.

“A lot of times, people feel like this problem is so big and out of their hands, that they feel like they can’t make a difference,” Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination Senior Community Specialist Maya Dhavale said. “I feel like it’s very timely that Fairfax County has been putting this plan and report together…We’re able to provide residents, business owners, and individuals in Fairfax County a path forward.”

Dhavale, who spearheaded the project, says staff have already begun the process of implementing the plan. That starts with community outreach, public education, and a review of existing county policies to determine how they line up with the proposed plan.

First proposed in 2018 and initiated in early 2020, the CECAP report was developed by a working group composed of environmental advocates, business representatives, civic association members, and other citizens.

As an overarching goal, the work group proposed that Fairfax County become carbon-neutral by 2050 with an 87% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels.

The Board of Supervisors has already pledged to make county government operations — including building and facility energy use and transportation — carbon neutral by 2040 in conjunction with an updated operational energy strategy adopted on July 13.

The county’s recent push to prioritize environmental initiatives comes as the U.N. continues to sound the alarm on climate change as a crisis that’s already in motion and will only get worse without a substantial shift in human behavior.

In its latest report released on Aug. 9, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that human activities are directly responsible for a roughly 1 degree Celsius climb in the global surface temperature from 1900 to 2019, contributing to retreating glaciers, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

Even if future emissions are kept very low, global temperatures will continue going up until at least the mid-21st century and could very likely still be one to 1.8 degrees Celsius higher than 1900 levels by the end of the century, according to the report.

“Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions,” IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai said in a news release. “Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate.”

In their report, the CECAP working group says the impact of climate change on Fairfax County is already evident in declining snowfall, more extremely hot days, heavier rainfall, and increased incidences of mosquito and tick-borne illnesses. Read More

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Morning Notes

County Commits to Carbon Neutrality by 2040 — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors pledged yesterday (Tuesday) to make county government operations carbon-neutral by 2040 as part of a newly adopted Operational Energy Strategy. The move follows up on a recommendation issued by the county’s Joint Environmental Task Force last fall. [Fairfax County Government]

Virginia Named Best State for Business — CNBC named Virginia the number-one state for business in the U.S. for the fifth time, making it the only one to ever top consecutive rankings. CNBC, which didn’t release rankings last year due to the pandemic, highlighted the Commonwealth for its ability to recruit and retain talent. [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

Northrop Grumman to Test Moon Outpost — “NASA has finalized a $935 million contract with Falls Church, Virginia-based Northrop Grumman for a moon outpost living quarters for astronauts as part of its Artemis program, which will eventually return humans to the surface of the moon…NASA is currently targeting November 2024 to launch the spacecraft on a SpaceX rocket.” [WTOP]

Park Street in Vienna Closed for Utility Work — “Park Street SE will be closed to SE-bound traffic between the traffic circle and Cherry Street SE for water utility work tomorrow, July 14, from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. Thursday, July 15. One-directional NW-bound traffic on Park Street SE will be open.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County to Host COVID-19 Remembrance Ceremony — The Northern Virginia Regional Commission will hold a virtual ceremony next Wednesday (June 9) at the Fairfax County Government Center to honor the more than 2,350 people in the region who have died from COVID-19. Local officials will discuss the pandemic’s impact, and the event will conclude with a “last alarm” bell service courtesy of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. [Fairfax County Government]

Falls Church Man Drowns in North Carolina — 46-year-old Falls Church resident and U.S. Air Force veteran Sean Chung died on May 28 when he reportedly drowned while surf fishing in the Outer Banks. Friends launched a GoFundMe fundraiser on Tuesday (June 1) to help his family pay for funeral costs and other immediate expenses. [Patch]

County to Discuss Climate Resilience Initiative — The Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination will hold a virtual public meeting on June 15 to get input on its Resilient Fairfax initiative, which aims to reduce the impact of flooding, severe storms, and other climate change-related dangers on the county. The public will also be able to comment through an online survey that will launch on June 8. [Fairfax County OEEC]

Hilton Misses Fortune 500 List — The hotel company, which is headquartered in McLean, ranked 596th on Fortune’s annual list of the biggest companies in the U.S., more than 250 spots below where it was in 2020. The plunge came as Hilton reported a 54.4% decline in revenue, an indication of how hard the COVID-19 pandemic hit the hospitality industry. [Washington Business Journal]

McLean Community Center to Host Blood Drive — The blood drive on June 11 will support the American Red Cross and Sickle Cell Foundation of Northern Virginia, which are especially looking to recruit people of color as donors. “Blood given to patients with rare blood types or conditions such as sickle cell disease must be matched closely with someone from the same race to avoid complications,” the community center says. [MCC]

Photo by Joanne Liebig

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What would it take for you to reduce your carbon footprint?

That’s the question Fairfax County is posing as it enters the public engagement portion of its Community Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) initiative, which will establish goals and strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the impact of climate change.

Launched in early 2020, the CECAP process is being led by the Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination (OEEC) with support from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Fairfax-based consulting firm ICF.

The county previously sought public input on the plan in August and September, when a CECAP Task Force started developing draft mitigation goals.

In addition to holding two public meetings last week, one focused on energy and another on transportation, waste, and development, the county is looking to gather more public feedback through a trio of short surveys.

“We want to make sure that we expand our reach and get information from as many county residents and business owners as we can,” ICF Director of Human Capital Michelle Heelan said when facilitating the energy community meeting on Feb. 23.

One survey gauges respondents’ interest in undertaking projects to make their home more energy-efficient and sustainable, like installing solar panels and replacing light bulbs and HVAC systems. Another deals with transportation and development, asking questions about public transit, electric vehicles, and mixed-use development.

There is also a more open-ended survey for people to share general comments on the CECAP initiative.

“In Fairfax County, energy use and transportation are the two greatest sources of greenhouse gas emissions,” the OEEC says. “The CECAP will address both issue areas, and with your input, we can ensure that the final plan reflects the needs of everyone in our community as we work to reduce our collective carbon footprint.”

The surveys are currently available in English, Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese. They will be open until 11:59 p.m. on Mar. 14.

ICF will draft a final report with input from a CECAP Working Group and the community for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to adopt this summer, according to OEEC Senior Community Specialist Maya Dhavale.

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Combatting climate change will be an all-hands-on-deck effort, and at least one private company in Fairfax County has promised to do its part to help.

HITT Contracting, a construction contractor headquartered in Falls Church, announced a commitment on Feb. 11 to become carbon-neutral by 2023. The company pledged to reduce its reliance on carbon after starting to track its emissions in 2018 and learning that its operations generated 19,173 carbon-equivalent metric tons of greenhouse gases.

“Environmental stewardship is at the core of all we do. After tracking and understanding our greenhouse gas emissions, we could not ignore the effect our operations have on the environment,” HITT Director of Sustainability Isaiah Walston said. “By reducing our carbon footprint and moving toward carbon neutrality, we can positively impact our workforce, clients, and society as a whole.”

Walston acknowledged that carbon neutrality is not the same as eliminating all carbon emissions, but says the company sees this as a starting point and is “committed to taking further steps to reduce our emissions in the future.”

HITT’s emissions reduction strategy will involve purchasing primarily U.S.-based carbon offsets in locales where it operates. It has also pledged to focus on making its office and on-site operations efficient and sustainable even as it plans to expand.

The company also says in its press release that it will continue tracking its corporate emissions and present annual feasibility studies on its reduction practices.

“The commitment to becoming carbon neutral is our next major investment in fighting climate change,” HITT CEO Kim Roy said. “Making the world a better place through our work is a core value that aligns with our clients and partners. It’s simply the right thing to do as a good corporate citizen.”

Fairfax County commended HITT’s effort to reduce its carbon footprint, as the county pursues similar green aspirations.

“The Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination is pleased to see local business leaders, like HITT, taking steps to address climate change,” OEEC Deputy Director Susan Hafeli said. “The business community has a large role to play in addressing greenhouse gas emissions, and Fairfax County is fortunate to have numerous examples of companies making strides in sustainability planning and action.”

Reducing emissions is especially critical for building operations and construction, which collectively account for 38% of all carbon dioxide emissions globally, according to a United Nations report published in December.

Hafeli says Fairfax County will look to businesses, as well as community organizations and individuals, to help drive emissions down as it develops its first-ever Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP), which will set goals and strategies for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and addressing the impacts of climate change.

The county is also developing a Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan to address and identify risks and areas of concern in the county that could eventually be impacted by climate change.

Fairfax County will hold two community meetings next week to discuss the CECAP. The first meeting on Feb. 23 will focus on energy issues, while the second on Feb. 25 will center on transportation, waste, and development.

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Fairfax County should attempt to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 and eliminate all waste from county government and school operations by 2030, the Fairfax County Joint Environmental Task Force (JET) recommends in a new report.

Presented to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 20 and the Fairfax County School Board on Oct. 22, the report urges both boards, along with the Fairfax County Park Authority and the Fairfax County Regional Housing Authority, to commit to producing net-zero carbon emissions from their energy usage by 2040.

To achieve this goal, the task force suggests that Fairfax County aim to cut its carbon emissions in half from 2019 levels by 2030, while transitioning to renewable sources to generate 25% of its energy by 2030 and 50% by 2040.

The task force also recommends reducing the total amount of energy used by all county facilities by 25% by 2030 and 50% by 2040, and requiring all new county buildings and major renovation projects meet net-zero energy standards starting in 2021.

Other recommendations proposed by the JET include:

  • Fairfax government and schools should aim to produce zero solid waste by 2030
  • The Fairfax Connector bus fleet should transition to electricity or other non-carbon-emitting fuel sources by 2030, with the Fairfax County Public Schools fleet and non-bus vehicles following suit by 2035
  • The county government and schools should develop resources to educate students and adults about job options in “green” industries, including renewable energy, green building, resource and wildlife management, and stormwater management

“The JET’s ambitious goals and recommendations send a powerful message that our county and school system are committed to doing what it takes to protect our environment and address the threat of climate change,” Providence District School Board member Karl Frisch said.

Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions executive director Meg Mall, one of nine community members on the JET, says her environmental advocacy group is “pleased that strong goals have been incorporated” into the task force’s report and hopes to see continued collaboration not just between different county agencies, but also between Fairfax County and the general public.

“FACS has been a strong advocate for the adoption of aggressive goals in the county’s climate mitigation and adaptation work,” Mall said. “…The county must lead by example within its own operations while concurrently working toward community-wide goals.”

The Board of Supervisors and school board formed the JET in April 2019 to coordinate county government and schools efforts to address climate change, energy efficiency, and environmental sustainability issues.

While the threat of climate change has loomed for decades, its urgency became newly apparent when the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report in 2018 that found the world must achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and potentially avoid the most drastic impacts of climate change.

In addition to creating the JET, Fairfax County signaled that it intends to prioritize climate issues by establishing the new Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination in July 2019 and awarding contracts to solar providers in December to install solar panels at more than 100 publicly owned facilities.

Mothers Out Front Fairfax County, which launched a campaign advocating for electric school buses in August 2019, praised the JET’s zero waste and carbon neutrality recommendations but urged Fairfax County to convert its school bus fleet to electricity by 2030.

“Mothers Out Front’s priority is the health and future of our children, and we have been pushing to convert school bus fleets across the state to electric by 2030,” Mothers Out Front Fairfax County co-founder Julie Kimmel said. “While we fully support the recommendation that the Fairfax Connector bus fleet be transitioned to electric by 2030, we think all Fairfax County school buses should also be converted to electric in the same time frame.”

The Board of Supervisors will discuss the JET recommendations and get updates on the solar power purchase agreement initiative, the development of a Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP), and the county’s yard waste collection bag policy during its environmental committee meeting today at 11 a.m.

Staff photo by Catherine Douglas Moran

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Fairfax County is pushing ahead with work on its new climate plan in an effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Fairfax County officials are seeking the public’s feedback on the Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) through a series of virtual public meetings. The three upcoming meetings will facilitate conversations on the county’s climate change management goals.

People can register for the meetings through the links below:

The CECAP Task Force, which is composed of representatives from associations and businesses, will incorporate the public’s feedback into their final draft of the policy. 

Here’s more from the county on the plan:

The Fairfax County Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) development process is administered by the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination with support from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Fairfax County-based management consulting firm ICF. The plan, which will be the first of its kind for the county, will include a greenhouse gas inventory as well as targets for greenhouse gas reduction in the coming years.

The CECAP will also include actions and strategies to help mitigate climate change and to reduce the impact of climate-related events on county residents and businesses. At the conclusion of the development process, a final plan will be presented to the Board of Supervisors for adoption. 

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Virtual Job Fair — “The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) is still looking for enthusiastic workers to fill seasonal positions now that COVID-19 safety restrictions are being eased and park facilities are reopening under Gov. Ralph Northam’s phased Forward Virginia Blueprint.” [Fairfax County]

Fine Free — “The Mary Riley Styles Public Library no longer charges fines for overdue books and other materials. All previously assessed fines for overdue materials will also be forgiven.” [City of Falls Church]

Support for Climate Crisis — “U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, who represents the 8th District of Virginia that includes the City of Falls Church, [Tuesday] hailed the release of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis action plan, “Solving The Climate Crisis.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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