Report submitted by Bishop Dansby:
Laura and Bishop Dansby attended on April 2, 2016, a meeting of the Fairfax Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions at the Unity of Fairfax Church, Oakton, VA. The Faith Alliance is a working partner of Interfaith Power and Light.
The main part of the program was a panel of John W. Foust, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; Pat Hynes, Chairman, Fairfax County School Board; and Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, who also serves as Virginia’s Chief Resilience Officer, charged with leading the effort to prepare Virginia for the current and future effects of climate change. Also in attendance were Catherine M. Hudgins, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, who also spoke to the group. In the audience were a number of notable personages, including the individual who drafted the LEED standards for schools.
Pat Hynes said that Fairfax County School has scores of school buildings, and that they have more energy star rated buildings than any county in the nation. They have Eco Schools and Green Flag schools, the highest level of green. They emphasize renovation and stipulate that 1/3 of the renovation budget is for energy efficiency. She discussed they were taking bids on solar systems for their school buildings.
Both Hynes and Foust discussed the energy use Dashboard that allows the public to see online the energy use for each of the buildings in the county. The Federal government committed to 40% reductions in 10 years, and 30% of energy derived from renewable energy. The Faith Alliance says Northern Virginia governments should do no less. Energy dashboards – widely used across the nation – provides a way to measure progress and results in saving taxpayer money. The Energy Dashboard has been approved by Fairfax County as a result of the efforts of the Fairfax Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions under the leadership of Eric Goplerud, past Executive Director.
Brian Moran confirmed that Virginia was implementing the EPA Clean Power Plan. He said a number of efforts to stimulate renewables had been defeated by the republicans, who control the legislature. The Governor has vetoed the legislation that would have given the General Assembly the right to pass on the Clean Power Plan produced by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), as well as the coal industry subsidy, but that it will not be known until April 20 whether those vetoes will be overridden. Apparently, there are some democrats that might vote to override. Further, the General Assembly is now using the budget process to defund the DEQ as to the clean power plan.
When the panel ended, Laura Dansby delivered the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley’s April 2 Action Day petition with 177 signatures to Brian Moran for delivery to the Governor. The petition supported implementation of the Clean Power Plan and renewable energy efforts beyond that.
Eric Goplerud announced that the Fairfax Faith Alliance had been chosen by the Interfaith Power and Light as the most successful faith alliance for climate in the nation, news that he got the day before the conference. The Faith Alliance has members from a large number of churches, but does not require the church itself to pass a resolution or otherwise join.
After the panel, the attendees (about 75) broke into discussion groups. The panel members stayed for the whole program and participated in the discussion groups. Bishop Dansby had an opportunity to tell in his group, which included Brian Moran and Pat Hynes, the story of our effort in Harrisonburg to get a net zero school, and that while that effort has probably resulted in getting a highly energy efficient school, it is likely that solar panels will lose out to other priorities. Bishop suggested that it would be useful for schools to have a state incentive or at least the governor’s imprimatur that schools implement solar systems for political cover for the local school boards.