On November 15th, the County Board of Arlington County voted 4-1 to adopt a revised incentives policy for its green building standards.  While technically a “voluntary” component of 4.1 Site Plan applications, the County has long encouraged and planned for new buildings to be LEED certified.  The revised policy includes the following changes:

  • Projects must propose to achieve LEED Version 4 Silver certification, or above
  • Commercial and Residential projects will receive the same base bonus density, depending on the proposed certification level
    • Silver - .25 FAR
    • Gold - .35 FAR
    • Platinum - .50 FAR
    • LEED Gold, plus two Community Priority credits (see below), plus Net Zero Energy building certification - .55 FAR
    • Commercial projects must also agree to achieve Energy Star certification within four years of occupancy
    • Additional .025 FAR is available to projects that achieve one of the new “Community Priorities.”  The County will award up to .05 FAR for these credits (i.e. achieving two Community Priorities).  The Community Priorities include:
      • Energy Star certification score of 75 in multi-family residential projects
      • Optimizing energy performance at 9% or 12% above the LEED baseline
      • Envelope commissioning
      • At least one-percent of building energy use generated from renewable sources
      • Onsite habitat restoration
      • Light pollution reduction and bird friendly facades
      • Building reuse and materials salvage
      • To encourage “green” affordable housing projects, projects receiving Virginia Housing Development Authority tax credits may use the Earthcraft rating system, instead of LEED, if they achieve Earthcraft Gold or Platinum.  These projects are also eligible for additional density using the “Community Priorities.”

Understanding that this change will take time to implement, the revised policy has an “effective date” of September 30, 2015.  Site Plan projects that are accepted by the County Managers office (i.e. officially taken into the County’s Site Plan review process, rather than merely filed for preliminary review) before this date may choose to continue under the current standards.