The Cost of Retrofitting Arlington Homes Is Prohibitive

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting, June 18, 2022.

I attended this year’s annual Green Community Tour on June 5 and found it was very worthwhile. Credit goes to Ecoaction Arlington for organizing the event, the County for promoting it, and most especially to the home owners who have invested heavily in greening their properties.

Because I was on a bike, I didn’t get a chance to tour all the destinations on the list. But what I did see was truly inspirational. Some have landscaped their yards to mitigate the runoff caused by rampant infill development. Others have rebuilt their homes inside out with seam sealed insulation. Still others have installed renewable energy or are planning to do so.

Also listed as a destination on the Green Community Tour were the extensive gardens surrounding Glencarlyn Branch Library, which are accessible to the public year round. You don’t need to tour the National Botanical Gardens in DC to enjoy the area’s native plants. Just trip on down Carlin Springs Road from Ballston to South 3rd Street, hang a left, and there you are.

Yet all this greenery costs money. Every home owner I talked to said that while the investment to improve their property was worth it, it was steep. That means that most residents don’t have the money to do it. And with no real estate tax relief in sight, it will be years before the average homeowner can even think about weatherproofing her home.

If Arlington County were really serious about equity, it would redress its regressive real estate tax structure that locks moderate income residents into energy inefficient homes.