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2019 Year in Review Northern Virginia Regional Commission

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission is proud of the work it accomplishes on behalf of and in collaboration with our local government partners and other stakeholders. Here are some of the highlights for 2019.

Award ceremony at the Pentagon. Pleased to be with our partners from Fort Belvoir, George Mason University, Booz Allen Hamilton, and the Northern Virginia Community College.

Cyber Workforce Training Effort Wins National Award from US Army

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission’s Community, Military and Federal Facility Partnership and Fort Belvoir were recognized at a ceremony at the Pentagon as a winner of one of the United States Army’s 2019 Community Partnership Award. The Community Partnership Awards recognize exceptional community partnerships that have improved readiness, driven motivation and contribute to reform initiatives throughout the Army.

Fort Belvoir and NVRC were recognized for a partnership that focused on developing and implementing the Northern Virginia Cyber Training and Education Roadmap, which seeks to address a shortfall in cyber readiness throughout the region. The Roadmap presents a collaborative effort to prepare, grow and sustain a cybersecurity workforce that safeguards and promotes the region’s security and economic prosperity.

Autonomous Vehicle Testing in Northern Virginia

NVRC was pleased to be part of the winning team that won the Olli Fleet Challenge that resulted in two autonomous vehicles on Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall in Arlington from June thru September. This partnership is a collaboration among the Army, Marine Corps, federal and state DOTs, NVRC and local communities, academic institutions, and private sector. The demonstration evaluates Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) for the potential to reduce base operating costs, improve mobility and safety, and contribute to the quality of life for military service members and their families. The CAV demonstration operates with six lines of effort that include: Infrastructure and Safety; Energy and Economy; Data Architecture and Cyber Security; Data Analytics; Human Factors; Planning and Policy; and Integration.

Traffic Demand Management Program for Military Facilities Launched

It is estimated that nearly 25% of the traffic in the I395/95 corridor are related to traffic to and from military facilities in the region. At some facilities, nearly 100% of the car traffic is occupied by a single occupant. In October, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission awarded a grant to NVRC to provide Traffic Demand Management (TDM) services to our base partners to reduce single occupancy vehicles on I395/95. The award allowed us to hire Allison Doerfler, a military spouse, to provide TDM outreach.

LED Street Light Planning

Since early 2019, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission has worked with a US Department of Energy-financed program to provide education, outreach and technical assistance to local jurisdictions in the Mid-Atlantic region convert conventional streetlights to LEDs. This work complements the work NVRC led with Dominion Energy in 2018-2019 on the reformulation of tariffs for publicly owned streetlight conversation to LEDs.

The goal of this grant, which was awarded to the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), but includes NVRC as a sub-grantee (among other regional partners), is to provide technical assistance services to explore the feasibility of conversions and provide major financing options, such as energy performance contracting (EPC), utility incentives, and utility bill repayments. The grant is valid until December 2021.

MEA, and its primary contractor under this grant, Clean Energy Solutions, has been offering technical assistance at no cost to local jurisdictions of our region. In Northern Virginia, the results have been exceptional. Assessments performed for Fairfax County indicate the projected payback of converting roadway streetlights to LED will be 3.8 years, the County will realize $2.2 million in savings per year and reduce C02 emissions by approximately 18,000,000 tons annually. For the Town of Leesburg, the projected payback of converting roadway streetlights to LED will be 3.3 years, the Town will realize $131,000 in savings per year and reduce C02 emissions by up to 800,000 tons annually.

For 2020, equivalent assessments are underway for the cities of Fairfax, Alexandria, Loudoun County and Town of Vienna. Moreover, with financing from the MEA grant, NVRC and its partners from Clean Energy Consultants will share their work with LED conversion with other planning district commissions regions of the Commonwealth, starting with Richmond and the Tidewater, this Spring.

In recognition of its efforts to promote solar in the region and its work with our local government partners, NVRC was the second region in the United States to receive SolSmart Gold Designation. SolSmart is a US Department of Energy program in coordination with the Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

Solarize NoVA and Energy Efficiency

2019 was the best year ever for our Solarize NoVA campaign since its inception in September 2014. We had 102 contracts for 931.89 kW of new solar with a contract value of $2.48 million in 2019. In total our Solarize campaign has achieved 369 contracts for 2.98 MW of solar with contract value of $8.74 million. We are pleased to work with our partners at the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP), our local government partners and local solar installers. We look forward to launching a new campaign in the Spring of 2020.

2019 also saw the launch of new energy efficiency programs that were approved by the State Corporation Commission. Launched in the late Fall the home energy efficiency programs have great potential to help homeowners save energy, money and protect the environment. Working with LEAP and Community Housing Partners more than 5,200 families have been assisted with either energy efficiency or weatherization services over the last several years.

Regional Demographer – Census Concerns

The NOVA Region Dashboard is Northern Virginia Regional Commission’s dashboard containing a plentiful amount of demographic, military, and environmental information and interactive charts. With the hiring of a Demographer, the demographic charts and descriptive analyses on the dashboard were enhanced and updated for the first time in years. The updates reflected the most current demographic data on population, education, and income. As part of this effort, the Demographer analyzed the demographic trends and informed the members of the commission with a presentation that brought to light the major transformations in the region, that of which is largely being driven by the growth of racial minorities and the foreign-born populations. The demographic analysis also highlighted how dependent our region’s economy is on the federal government sector and the need for our region to continue to take great strides to diversify our economy.

At a Northern Virginia Demographers meeting in the Fall, some members expressed their concerns about the new 2020 Census disclosure avoidance system known as differential privacy and the 2020 Census data on citizenship status. With these being issues that would affect all localities and their ability to plan programs and services effectively, NVRC’s Demographer stepped forward to coordinate a successful effort in documenting the concerns. The Demographer proactively engaged in getting the concerns voiced to state and U.S. delegates and the U.S. Census Bureau. The goal of this regional effort has been to get a 2020 Census complete count, private census data, accurate census data, and similar demographic data available at small geographies like that of past Decennial Censuses for purposes of meeting local planning and service delivery needs. In the end, the concerns were brought to the Commonwealth of Virginia Governor, Virginia delegation in the General Assembly, U.S. Congressional delegates representing Northern Virginia, and the U.S. Census Bureau. This effort strengthened NVRC’s ties to localities and NVRC’s role in the region with assisting the region in demographic matters.

Transition in Ryan White HIV/AIDS Services

2019 was a year of a successful transition from NVRC’s relationship with the District of Columbia Department of Health to providing expert assistance to the Virginia Department of Health in a variety of HIV/AIDS related services. NVRC’s staff was called upon to provide its expertise across a wide variety of statewide organizations and residents. Included in 2019 was the first ever statewide Housing Conference for people living with AIDS that drew attendance from across the Commonwealth.

Supporting Go Virginia and Economic Development in the Region

As the Support Organization for the GO Virginia Regional Council 7, NVRC staff and consultants provided administrative and programmatic support for the Council, including successful initiation of four important regional projects focused on developing workforce talent for cybersecurity and IT jobs in Northern Virginia: Northern Virginia Tech Talent Pipeline; Tech Talent Pipeline Apprenticeship Project; FabLAB, an industry-supported center for technology training, innovation and inspiration; and Alexandria/Arlington Technology Workforce Initiative. Together, more than $1.9 million in state GO Virginia funds were awarded to these projects, with the subgrantees providing cash and in-kind match funding of another $3.9 million from other sources.

Learning from our International Partners

In 2019, NVRC led a one-week exchange to Germany to study the transfer and application of climate mitigation and resiliency innovations to Northern Virginia. The 10-member delegation consisted of elected officials, technical and policy staff from the NVRC, Dominion Energy, George Mason University, Community Energy Partners and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and reviewed climate programs in the cities and regions of Stuttgart, Bottrop and Berlin.

The innovations from Germany currently informing NVRC’s climate programs include:

• Adopting elements of the Stuttgart Climate Atlas into a data-driven, integrated region-wide resiliency planning effort linking “green” infrastructure, stormwater mitigation planning and watershed restoration;

• Transferring urban heat island mitigation efforts from Bottrop via pre-fabricated, recyclable, mobile, steel frame/platforms laden with “native plants“ and seating provide shade and microclimate management;

• Applying multi-purposed utility poles/street lights with LED lighting, air quality monitors and air temperature sensors in downtown areas;

• Applying photocatalytic bricks for sidewalks and streets to absorb NO and NO2;

• Exploring comprehensive energy planning for NOVA utilities from Bottrop;

• Adopting building retrofit and zero emissions construction from Bottrop and Stuttgart public-private outreach and energy consulting services;

• Transferring energy incubator and research facility concepts from Berlin to Alexandria Mirant plant.

This effort is consistent with the NVRC business model and workplan. For over 20 years, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission has led one of the most successful examples of strategically focused and outcome-oriented trans-Atlantic exchanges on sustainable development. Its transatlantic work started and has continued for these 20 years with the Verband Region Stuttgart. Over that time, the adoption of energy innovations from Berlin, Stuttgart and Bottrop and other German cities is now firmly in the work undertaken by a number of our local governments.

Road Salt Management

NVRC has been requested by the VA Department of Environmental Quality to play a regional leadership role in working with the agency and our local government partners with respect to the impact of road salt on potable water drinking supplies. NVRC will be playing a similar role to our Clean Water Partners campaign regarding stormwater.

Walking Safety Summit

NVRC was pleased to organize and lead a well attended, regional summit on walking safety. America Walks led a training and walkability audit during the one day summit. The 64 participants represented state and local planners, engineers and service providers along with elected official staff, community and pedestrian advocates and police.

Outcomes included assessments from the walkability audits, tools for engaging and communicating challenges, feedback on four problematic areas in Northern Virginia and a commitment by all participants to promote and encourage safe walking opportunities.

You can read the after action summary report from the Summit by clicking here.

Regional Resiliency

Our Regional Resilience Workshop was well attended with representatives from across Northern Virginia. We were pleased to partner with Booz Allen Hamilton and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

NVRC Staff continued to coordinate a Climate Resiliency Team comprised of staff from local jurisdictions. Major outcomes from 2019 include a desktop risk assessment exercise in which major sectors of critical infrastructure were scored for their vulnerability to climate change and the relative consequences on the region. The teams reported that projected inland flooding scenarios pose a major risk for Transportation and Stormwater Infrastructure, projected temperature scenarios pose a major risk to Energy Infrastructure and Vulnerable Populations, and sea level rise/coastal storm surge scenarios pose major Risk to National Airport, GW Parkway, Four Mile Run, and Alexandria waterfront as well as DOD Mission activities along shoreline (Langley Airfield, Navy Yard, Anacostia and Ft Belvoir).

To further understand the financial impact that projected sea level rise may have, an analysis of assessed property value that could be impacted by 1ft., 3ft., and 5 ft. of sea level rise was conducted in GIS. This analysis can be seen in this Sea Level Rise Interactive Map and Sea Level Rise Summary Dashboard. At 5ft. of sea level rise $778,849,477 of assessed property could be lost.

In addition, NVRC staff is directly participating in development of a Resilience Master Plan for all of coastal Virginia under the direction of the Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection.

Stormwater Education and Outreach

NVRC’s Coastal Program Manager successfully implemented the Northern Virginia Clean Water Partners-Regional Stormwater Education Campaign, in coordination with local government partners and other interested parties.

The campaign is a region-wide education and outreach strategy aimed at reducing nonpoint source water pollution through individual behavioral changes. The 2019 campaign helped to satisfy MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) Phase I and Phase II permit requirements for stormwater education and documenting changes in behavior.

The campaign known as “Only Rain Down the Drain” used television, print, internet advertising and the Only Rain Down the Storm Drain web site to distribute messages linked to specific stormwater issues, such as proper pet waste disposal, responsible fertilizer use on lawns and gardens, and proper disposal of detergents, paints, stains, and auto fluids.

The aids aired on TV and on-line 9146 times from July 2018 to June 2019. Outcomes include 33,591,119 total household television impressions, 769,300 total digital impressions (internet banner ads and streamed video ads), 6674 visits to the Only Rain web site, 4,000 pet waste bag dispensers distributed and 500 survey responses.

NVRC’s Coastal Program Manager also coordinated with staff from City of Alexandria, Arlington County, Prince William County, Town of Dumfries, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District to conduct several “Homeowner Rain Garden” workshops in the region resulting in nearly 130 people educated about controlling stormwater on their property.

Waste Management

Waste Managers looked to the Northern Virginia Waste Management Board to offer a platform for addressing significant market and industry challenges undermining the effectiveness and mission of local solid waste management in the region. Staffed by the NVRC waste program manager, the group developed common policy positions and problem solved approaches to keep local waste programs sustainable considering difficult market conditions, continued growth and waste generation, and with continued industry verticalization that undermines the flexibility of local waste management programs.

The Waste Board developed a series of fact sheets, developed policy positions, and used the waste board as a resource as they piloted a glass recovery initiative, offering a drop off option for local reuse while removing glass from single stream household collection.

Other policy fact sheets and research areas include litter, producer responsibility, industry paint recovery programs, plastic bags and other contaminants in recycling, among other items.

Regional Trail Development and Coordination

NVRC staff continued to coordinate between Northern Virginia land managers and jurisdiction staff on trail continuity, coordinating a regional memorandum of understanding on the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. In addition, staff supported county trail planning efforts in Prince William and Loudoun counties, as well as developed a preliminary public water access plan. NVRC also supported regional conservation by collecting scenic viewshed inventories and supported the facilitation of the funding for the design of the Neabsco Boardwalk with our local partners.

NVRC Jurisdictions

  • Arlington County
  • Fairfax County
  • Loudoun County
  • Prince William County
  • City of Alexandria
  • City of Fairfax
  • City of Falls Church
  • City of Manassas
  • City of Manassas Park
  • Town of Dumfries
  • Town of Herndon
  • Town of Leesburg
  • Town of Vienna

2019/2020 Officers

Honorable P. David Tarter, Chairman

Honorable Cydny Neville, Vice-Chairman

Honorable Kathy Smith, Treasurer

Robert W. Lazaro, Jr., Executive Director