Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions | Coalition for Smarter Growth | Sierra Club Potomac River Group
For Immediate Release:
October 10, 2023
Bill Pugh, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions Alexandria Hub, 202-821-3226
Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth, 703-599-6437
Steve Banashek, Sierra Club Potomac River Group, 703-980-0528
Alexandria City Public Schools to receive MWCOG Climate & Energy Leadership Award for its Electric School Bus program on Wednesday; groups see opportunity for ACPS to more fully integrate climate change in its planning, operations
On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments will present a Climate & Energy Leadership Award in the Educational Institution Sector to Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) for its Electric School Bus program. According to the COG agenda materials, ACPS will have 15 electric school buses, representing 12% of its fleet, and will be the second largest electric school bus fleet in Virginia and the third largest on the East Coast after Fairfax County, VA and Montgomery County, MD public schools.
“Kids will see the impacts of climate change much more than adults, and the health of kids is also impacted disproportionately more from existing air pollution, like that from vehicles. So it is great to see school systems in Alexandria, Fairfax and Montgomery transitioning to clean student transportation,” said Scott Peterson, Board Chair of Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions (FACS).
Safe walking and biking, DASH improvements also important:
“We also recognize Alexandria’s efforts to improve safe walking and biking to its schools through walk audits, speed cameras, and other programs as critical for ‘green’ student transportation,” said Peterson.
“Another component of clean transportation for Alexandria’s students is its DASH system. The successful network redesign has brought all-day frequent service to more schools, more homes and workers. The fare-free policy also makes transportation available to more young people and students of all ages,“ said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG).
Opportunity for ACPS to more fully integrate climate change:
“Going forward, ACPS has the opportunity to show how it’s making climate change a priority in other areas of its operations, including in its facilities and curriculum, and how it is supporting Alexandria’s recently adopted Energy and Climate Change Action Plan. As a parent, I am proud that one of my children attends the new Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, which was rebuilt as a net-zero facility under city requirements; and I’m excited that more and more students will get to ride on electric buses. These green buildings and transportation strategies are also excellent hands-on educational opportunities for students that ACPS can use in its curriculum,” said Bill Pugh, volunteer co-coordinator of the FACS Alexandria hub, and also a Senior Policy Fellow with CSG.
ACPS building upgrades and climate change:
“We know that green buildings save money and are healthier for the students, teachers and staff inside them. ACPS is currently drafting its Capital Improvement budget, so this is an opportunity to show in its planning documents how ACPS is upgrading its existing facilities to be more efficient, electrified, supporting on-site renewable energy, healthier, and able to respond to more extreme weather. Retrofitting existing buildings is a critical part of reaching Alexandria’s adopted climate targets for 2030, and community members would like to learn more about what ACPS is doing in this regard,” said Pugh.
Alexandria an example for other VA communities:
“We hope the ACPS and Fairfax County clean school bus progress will inspire other Virginia communities. School systems can take advantage of programs like EPA’s Clean School Bus Funding to electrify school bus fleets. In addition to the ACPS and DASH bus fleets, the City of Alexandria has added electric vehicles to its municipal fleet helping to reduce transportation emissions and noise,” said Steve Banashek, Alexandria resident and Transportation Chair of the Sierra Club’s Potomac River Group.
Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions (FACS) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that organizes the power of Northern Virginia’s faith communities, and friends who share our values, to advance local solutions to the urgent moral challenge of climate change.
About the Coalition for Smarter Growth:
The Coalition for Smarter Growth’s mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish.
About the Sierra Club:
The Potomac River Group of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter is a grassroots, non-partisan advocacy organization active in the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, and the City of Falls Church. The Group coordinates action to promote climate solutions and oppose projects and policies that put the interests of polluters above the needs of communities, through an inclusive, justice-centered movement.