State and Local Policy Database

Arlington County

City Scorecard Rank


Arlington County, VA

64.50Scored out of 100Updated 10/2015
Local Government Score:
12 out of 15 points
Local Government Summary List All

Arlington’s Community Energy Plan articulates the county’s energy-related goals for its internal government operations.  The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy oversees implementation of the government operations goal and facilitates interdepartmental coordination.

Last updated: October 2015

Local Government Energy Efficiency Goals List All

Arlington’s Community Energy Plan calls for a reduction in county government greenhouse gas emissions of 10% below 2000 levels by 2012 and 76% below 2007 levels by 2050.  The Arlington County Board adopted Arlington’s greenhouse gas reductions targets in June of 2013 and incorporated them into the County’s Comprehensive Plan.  We did not collect information on the extent to which formal agency stakeholder groups were involved in setting the goal.

Last updated: October 2015

Procurement and Construction List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

Arlington’s Equipment Bureau Environmental Fleet Standards outline the county’s fuel efficiency requirements, including a provision stating that hybrid vehicles are the preferred replacements for non-public safety passenger vehicles. The county also has an anti-idling policy for non-public safety vehicles and participates in regional air quality programs to reduce fueling on predicted Code Orange and Red days. The county has one electric-vehicle charging station for its Chevy Volt, but it is not accessible to the public.

Public Lighting

The county has a program to replace all existing streetlights with more efficient LED lights and has installed over 6,000 LED streetlights through the program, approximately 85% of all streetlights in the county.  As new LED streetlights are being installed, radio controls are being installed so that the system will be able to use dimming and sensor functions.

New Buildings and Equipment

Arlington funds, designs, and constructs projects to a minimum of LEED Silver certification for owned and leased buildings, but this policy does not apply to Arlington Public Schools projects. The Arlington County Infrastructure Design and Construction Standard - Building Design requires energy and water efficient products including lighting, HVAC, and premium-efficient motors.  For example, the standard requires all appliances to be ENERGY STAR where applicable.

Last updated: October 2015

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

Arlington annually benchmarks 100% of municipal facilities and publicizes the results in building report cards. Offices, libraries, community centers, and fire stations are required to show an Energy Performance Label, updated annually with energy use and a comparison to similar facilities.  We did not find information regarding efficiency improvements made thus far to the county building stock.

Public Employees

Arlington policy allows for 4/40 or 9/80 compressed work schedules and teleworking. 

Last updated: October 2015

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 6 out of 10 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy leads the county’s implementation of its community-wide energy efficiency initiatives. The county has adopted and mainstreamed a community-wide energy-related goal and has also enacted performance management strategies.


Last Updated: October 2015

Community-Wide Energy Efficiency GoalsList All

Arlington County’s Community Energy Plan was adopted by the County Board in June 2013 and sets a goal for the county to reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions to 3.0 mtCO2e/capita/year by 2050.  The Community Energy Plan was also adopted as an element of the County’s Comprehensive Plan.  We did not collect information on the extent of stakeholder involvement in the setting of this goal.

Last updated: October 2015

Efficient Distributed Energy Systems - District Energy and Combined Heat and PowerList All

There are no district energy systems in Arlington County, but the Community Energy Plan calls for the development of 450MW of district energy by 2050.  Arlington does not have combined heat and power facilities.

Last updated: October 2015

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

Arlington does not have programs or policies in place to mitigate urban heat islands.

Last updated: October 2015

Buildings Policies
Score: 17.5 out of 29 points
Buildings Summary List All

Arlington has some building sector initiatives to improve efficiency including a savings target, residential incentives, and upfront code support. The Inspection Services within the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development manages the building energy code compliance and enforcement for Arlington County.

Last Updated: October 2015

Stringency of Energy CodesList All

The State of Virginia requires its local jurisdictions to follow the 2012 Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) for residential and commercial construction. As of July 14, 2014, the USBC was updated to reference the 2012 IECC and 2012 IRC. Residential buildings must comply with the 2012 IRC, while commercial buildings must comply with 2012 IECC standards with reference to ASHRAE 90.1-2010. To learn more, please see the Virginia page of the State Policy Database.  


Commercial construction in Arlington County complies with the Virginia USBC. Arlington's Chief Code Official serves as Vice Chair of the IECC Commercial Committee and advocates for more stringent commercial building energy codes.


Residential construction in Arlington County complies with the Virginia USBC. Arlington works with site plan multifamily projects to voluntarily build beyond code.

Last Updated: January 2017

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Arlington reported a budget of $14,500,000 for the building code department in 2014. This level of spending normalizes to $66.90 per $1,000 of residential construction spending for the city. Arlington does accept third party compliance for structural reviews, as allowed in the VA construction code. It has not established a voluntary code compliance option. Arlington provides Green Home Choice officials to support homeowners starting green building projects in their homes. The County sponsors their plan review and certification inspection.

Last Updated: October 2015


Requirements and Incentives for Efficient Buildings List All

Building Energy Savings Goals

Arlington County has established an energy savings target through its Community Energy Plan. This goal covers residential as well as commercial building stock. By 2050, all Arlington residences should use 55% less energy when compared to a 2007 baseline. All commercial buildings must use 60% less energy than 2007 levels.

Green Building Requirements

Arlington uses form based code that requires building to LEED standards for commercial centers and to LEED, EarthCraft, or Arlington's Green Home Choice program for residential development. All affordable housing that receives public funds must comply with EarthCraft standards. 

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

Arlington does not yet require commercial or residential buildings to take energy efficiency actions such as energy audits or retro-commissioning.  

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings

Arlington provides expedited permitting for residential construction, density bonuses for commercial construction, as well as rebates for energy-efficient lighting retrofits.

Last Updated: October 2015

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Arlington may not have mandatory or voluntary programs to encourage building benchmarking in any sector, under state law. Energy efficiency measures are not included in the MLS serving the Arlington area.

Last Updated: October 2015

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 7 out of 18 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Virginia Electric Power & Light (VEP&L), an Investor-Owned Utility (IOU) and subsidiary to Dominion Power, is the primary electric utility serving Arlington County. Washington Gas, an IOU, is Arlington’s primary natural gas supplier. The State of Virginia has set a legislative goal of reducing electricity consumption by 10% from a 2006 baseline by 2022. The utilities must submit integrated resource plans to the State Corporation Commission laying out demand-side resources. Energy efficiency programs have been approved in past years. To learn more about the state-requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Virginia page of the State Database.

The Arlington Department of Environmental Services is the municipal utility which provides drinking water, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management services.

Last Updated: October 2015

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs, Spending & SavingsList All

According to EIA, in 2013, VEP&L spent $13,857,000 on electric efficiency programs, representing 2.13% of its annual revenue. Due to these programs, VEP&L reported a net incremental electricity savings of 81,726MWh, representing 0.11% of its retail sales. Washington Gas did not report its spending or savings figures. Spending on electricity represented in this section covers the entire Virginia service territory, not just Arlington County. VEP&L offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

Arlington County promotes VEP&L and Washington Gas efficiency programs by providing both utilities with tables at community outreach events. Arlington promotes Dominion’s commercial lighting rebate program by offering an additional incentive to accounts that participate in the Dominion offering. See the program website for complete information. Arlington has not yet begun advocating on the State level for additional energy efficiency spending requirements on part of the utilities.

Last Updated: October 2015

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

In order for customers to access their own energy data, VEP&L makes data from the previous month's usage available online in a downloadable format. Energy data is available by meter or account for commercial properties, although it is not aggregated on the whole building level, and available for automatic inputting into Portfolio Manager. Community-wide energy data is provided by the electric and natural gas utilities for energy planning at the sector level. At this point, Arlington County does not advocate on the state level for increased energy data access requirements.

Last Updated: October 2015

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

Arlington Department of Environmental Services runs a conservation outreach program and stormwater outreach education program. Water conservation kits are given out at events such as the County Fair and Energy Scavenger Hunts. Additionally, the energy program, AIRE, promotes water conservation through its programs, including Green Games. Arlington County has not yet established a water efficiency target.

Energy Efficiency and Self-Generation

The Arlington Water Pollution Control Plant is part of the County’s government activities’ 76 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 target, but there is no goal set specifically for the plant. Arlington is currently conducting a Master Plan for its solids treatments process which could result in substantial energy efficiency savings. 

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

The Green Building Policy includes policies for developers and property owners to encourage green infrastructure onto their private properties. The Chesapeake Bay permit requirements also applies to all new development in the County. Projects for green infrastructure on public property are funded through the County's stormwater fund. Additional funding is available for residential and business properties for small-scale practices. The MS4 permit in Arlington County requires stormwater mitigation on any land disturbance greater than 2,500 square feet, including staging areas. 

Last Updated: October 2015

Score: 22 out of 28 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving Arlington County is The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. WMATA also provides the public transportation for the city and the broader metropolitan area, including public bike, subway and bus service. The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses Washington, and many surrounding Virginia and Maryland jurisdictions. The Department of Environmental Services is the city agency charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: October 2013

Location Efficiency List All

Arlington’s zoning code, the General Land Use Plan focuses on transit-oriented development. In addition, the Columbia Pike Corridor has a form-based code. The parking requirement allows one parking space or more per residential unit. Arlington adopted its complete streets policy in 2012, through the Master Transportation Plan. The adoption of the guidelines encourages the inclusion of complete streets principles in all road construction and maintenance projects. As an incentive to promote location-efficient real estate development, Arlington offers density incentives. 

Last updated: October 2015

Mode Shift List All

Transportation and Land Use Planning

To improve integration of transportation and land use planning, Arlington’s Community Energy Plan aims to reduce the amount of carbon produced from transportation by 2050. The General Land Use Plan concentrated dense, mixed-use development to double Metro ridership between 1991 and 2002.

Car and Bicycle Sharing

There are three car sharing programs currently available to the residents and visitors of Arlington, zipcar, Car2go, and Hertz OnDemand. The city is served by a bikesharing program, capital bikeshare, with 300 operable stations in the Washington-Arlington Area.

Transportation Demand Management Programs

To reduce the frequency of single-occupancy trips, the Arlington County Board adopted the MTP Demand and System Management Element in December 2008.  Strategies include managing parking and pricing; marketing transit and providing commuter subsidies; promoting walking, bicycling and ridesharing; and encouraging telework and flexible work strategies.  Arlington County Commuter Services is very actively promoting such incentives.

Last updated: October 2015

Transit List All

The WMATA transit system that serves Arlingotn received $11,242,573 in total funding in 2013. This funding level is $743 per resident in the service territory of the agency.This results in a ratio of per capita regional transit funding to per capita city highway and parking funding of 2.03 to 1.

The Transit Connectivity Index measures how many transit rides are available per week within walking distance from the average household. The City of Arlington’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 33,042, putting it in the second highest category (20,000 - 50,000) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: October 2015

Efficient VehiclesList All

Citizens owning qualifying clean fuel vehicles (including hybrid and electric vehicles) are eligible to receive 100% tax relief on the first $3,000 of the vehicle's value and 50% tax relief on the next $17,000 of the vehicle's value. The tax rate is $5.00 per $100 of assessed value. Arlington County's electric vehicle policy supports installation of charging stations, but does not provide incentives. 

To promote efficient driving behavior, Arlington’s busses may not idle for longer than 10 minutes. The city of Arlington actively participates in the Virginia Clean Cities Coalition, which works to reduce petroleum use in all transportation across Virginia.

Last updated: October 2015

Freight List All

There are no intermodal freight facilities within Arlington County’s boundaries.