Fairfax County School Board Sets Goal for Carbon Neutral Energy Use by 2040
The Fairfax County School Board has accepted the recommendations of the Joint Environmental Task Force (JET) to set a goal for the school division to become carbon neutral by 2040. This action follows the same commitment from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors earlier this week.
The JET final report outlines 28 recommendations that address energy use, transportation, waste management and recycling, and workforce development.
“We believe it is important to work together as a county to reduce our carbon footprint and lead the way to ensuring a more sustainable environment in the future,” said School Board Chair Stella Pekarsky. “We want to inspire everyone in Fairfax County - students, parents, staff and community members, to join us in this effort. This is just the beginning of steps we can all take to address climate change in our community.”
Fairfax County Public Schools currently has eight electric buses in its fleet, funded by a grant from Dominion Energy. Both Boards agree to transition to electric or zero-carbon alternatives for municipal buses, school buses and eligible fleet vehicles by 2035. They will also develop a plan to fuel the electric vehicles using non-carbon emitting fuels and carbon offsets with a complete transition to 100% clean fuel by 2030.
Another agreed upon recommendation includes producing 25% of the County energy use from in-County renewable energy generation by 2030, and 50% by 2040. The school division and the county government also agree to decrease total energy usage from all County facilities by 25% by 2030, and 50% by 2040.
"By committing to zero waste and carbon neutrality, the School Board and Board of Supervisors are making it clear that waiting for others to act is not an option. We are demonstrating our collective resolve that every level of government must do its part to address the climate crisis and chart a course for a sustainable future. Students and taxpayers deserve nothing less," said Providence District School Board Member Karl Frisch.
“Our community and our students deserve to have sustainable schools that enhance their health and wellness, prepare our students for 21st century careers by offering cross-curricular learning opportunities and reduce our energy and maintenance costs so we can use that budget directly for classroom resources,” said Elaine Tholen, School Board member from the Dranesville District.
As new buildings and major renovation projects are planned, the county and the school division agree to achieve net-zero energy standards for projects greater than 10,000 occupied square feet, beginning with planning and design in 2021 and beyond.
Other recommendations both boards have committed to include:
- Setting an aspirational goal to be at zero waste by 2030.
- Undertaking a review of purchasing and developing a sustainable purchasing program to include procurement of recycled content paper and plastics, elimination of single use plastics, and management of electronic waste.
- Creating a strong education program, in multiple languages, about waste and recycling for the general public.
FCPS will develop a plan to educate students about green career opportunities, including inviting green career professionals to career days and student interview days. The schools will also work with local solar installers to investigate solar-related job opportunities for new high school graduates.
FCPS will work on a phased implementation plan to achieve the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.
Joint Environmental Task Force
The Joint Environment Task Force (JET) was formed in 2019 to proactively and collaboratively address climate change and environmental sustainability in Fairfax County. The task force is composed of representatives from both the Fairfax County School Board and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and community partners from higher education, industry, and community and student advocacy groups.