Arlington County Board Updates Green Building Incentive Policy

2 min

The Arlington County Board recently adopted notable revisions to the County's Green Building Incentive Policy. First adopted in 1999 and amended on several occasions thereafter, the Green Building Incentive Policy is one of the County's primary policy tools for encouraging the private sector to achieve green building certification (e.g., LEED, Earthcraft, EnergyStar, etc.) and to employ environmentally friendly, energy-efficient building design. The Green Building Incentive Policy offers developers bonus density in consideration for achievement of specified environmental and energy-efficiency benchmarks. The Policy is voluntary in nature, as developers may choose to seek the bonus density through the special exception site plan process.

The latest amendments to the Green Building Incentive Policy significantly increase the standards that must be achieved in exchange for bonus density. In particular, developers must now pledge to achieve at least LEED Gold (or equivalent) certification in order to receive approval for bonus density. Examples of other new criteria include more stringent energy efficiency benchmarks, requirements for electric vehicle charging stations, and standards for post-occupancy building energy performance. Notably, the amended Policy also includes a social equity component, which requires that at least one member of the development team be employed by an organization with a racial and ethnic diversity, equity, and inclusion program. The revised Policy also includes a number of optional green building elements that can be achieved by developers seeking to obtain even higher levels of bonus density.

The revisions to the Green Building Incentive Policy follow on the County's adoption of a new Community Energy Plan in September 2019. This aggressive new plan calls for Arlington County to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. At this time, the County is developing a draft Implementation Framework that will identify the specific near-term strategies the County will employ in order to realize the vision of the Community Energy Plan. The draft Implementation Framework is expected to advance strategies for building construction and operation, education and community engagement, transportation, renewable energy, resilience, and County government activities.

For more information on the Green Building Incentive Policy, Community Energy Plan, or other Arlington County development policies, please contact Kedrick Whitmore, Evan Pritchard, Zach Williams, Matt Allman, or another member of Venable's Land Use Practice Group.