You're invited! Help us celebrate people and organizations who have made significant contributions towards FACS' mission of creating moral and equitable solutions to climate change in Northern Virginia.
Though the official recognition of our local climate heroes begins at 7:00 p.m. in Carpenter Hall, you're invited to join early for a tour of Rock Spring United Church of Christ's impressive sustainability achievements (tours begin at 6:30 p.m.). Masks are required indoors.
Individual: Helene Shore
Helene Shore co-founded 350 Fairfax, an affiliate of the national 350.org environmental group, in April 2017. 50 people showed up at the initial meeting, and the group has since expanded to over 1,300 individuals. Monthly meetings often feature speakers from Fairfax County government and from Congress, individuals from relevant advocacy groups, and entrepreneurs running sustainable businesses.
350 Fairfax is a respected local environmental advocate thanks to Helene's efforts. She frequently testifies before the Fairfax Board of Supervisors. 350 Fairfax was an active participant in the successful effort to impose a 5-cent fee on single-use plastic bags, submitting a lengthy, well-researched paper rebutting arguments against the tax that a chemical industry lobby group submitted. That paper was specifically mentioned by one of the Supervisors when voting for the fee. Helene has also promoted solar panel installations on Fairfax County Public Schools and lobbied state legislators in Richmond to support the Green New Deal and to oppose the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. She led picketers at banks to protest the funding of the Keystone XL Pipeline. She also created an annual Plastic Free Challenge for the month of October and over 1,000 individuals have pledged to avoid single use plastic during that month.
Youth Award: James Jackson
Inspired by his grandfather, an environmental pioneer in the 1970s who helped to ban DDT, James Jackson decided in 8th grade that he also wanted to have a positive impact on our earth. After deciding to focus on reducing his carbon footprint, he got to work. He adopted Bon Air Nature Park in Arlington, where he removed several acres of English Ivy on mature Oak trees (trees are important for carbon capture). He participated in a tree planting project, where 400+ native trees were planted in protected reserves throughout Fairfax. His efforts saved about 20,000 pounds of carbon that year, offsetting the carbon produced by two average cars driving for a year.
James also calculated that his school uses 1.7 million kilowatt-hours per year, and that that in turn produces 2.7 million pounds of carbon per year. He involved his school's Environmental Club, of which he serves as Vice President, to fundraise for converting his school to all renewable energy. On April 23, 2022, they held an Earth Day event where James convened environmental leaders from four Northern Virginia schools to advocate for renewable energy in our schools and homes, and to fundraise for renewable energy. The hope is that other students and households will also want to switch their electricity from fossil fuels to renewable energy. So far, they have raised almost $2,000, which is enough to convert one of his three school buildings to all renewable energy, saving 900,000 pounds of carbon, which is the same as taking 90 cars off the road. They are not done yet: they plan to continue until their entire school runs on renewable energy.
Local Government Official: Ellen Eggerton
Ellen Eggerton is the Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Alexandria and also chairs the energy conservation committee of Virginia Building & Code Officials Association. After a 20-month collaboration with staff colleagues, the Environmental Policy Commission, and the public, she successfully guided the adoption of the city’s updated Environmental Action Plan (EAP) 2040 in July 2019. EAP 2040 is a cross-cutting strategy that connects land use, green buildings, transportation, energy, water resources, transportation, air quality, environmental health, and climate change initiatives.
Ellen also collaborated on the recent update of the 2019 Green Building Policy for the City of Alexandria with a goal of net zero public buildings. She was the most visible and active public building official advocating for stronger building energy efficiency standards in the state, partnering closely with FACS, the Sierra Club, the Grassroots Coalition, the American Institute of Architects, and others. Ellen is an outstanding and persistent advocate for stringent Virginia state building standards for residential and commercial building energy efficiency.
State Leader: Janet Howell
During the 2022 legislative session, Senator Howell has been a critical defender of clean energy accomplishments. She was a leader in opposing Andrew Wheeler. Upon learning that Governor Youngkin had nominated Wheeler as Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources, she immediately declared her opposition. It was the first time in 30 years she had ever opposed a governor's cabinet appointment. Howell has also been a leader in defending the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). She repeatedly beat back attempts to change RGGI in the committees on which she serves. Howell also voted for the FACS-initiated bill to allow localities the option of embracing an energy efficiency standard tougher than the Uniform Statewide Building Code. In 2020, after meeting with FACS, she voted for Solar Freedom legislation and convinced Senator Saslaw not to oppose it. In the 2021, Howell voted for Green Bank enabling legislation that was originally proposed by FACS.
Faith Community: Bull Run Unitarian Universalists
Since its original accreditation in 2004 as one of the Unitarian Universalist Association's first Green Sanctuaries, Bull Run Unitarian Universalists, located in Manassas, has embarked on a sustained journey to reduce its environmental impact. In the past five years, the congregation focused on energy efficiency with an emphasis on minimizing its carbon footprint. Bull Run UU actually achieved carbon neutrality in 2020 and in 2021!
Their activities in the areas of 1) mitigation, 2) adaptation and resilience, 3) climate justice, and 4) cross-cutting campaigns demonstrate over a sustained period of time alignment with FACS’ mission, goals, and strategy. Leading by example, the congregation has demonstrated its commitment through energy audits, wildlife gardens, and carbon offsets. By serving as a role model, Bull Run Unitarian Universalists encourage others to adopt these successful approaches.
Local Business: Ipsun Solar
Ipsun Solar is a leader in clean energy services in the D.C. metro area. The mission-driven Certified B Corporation balances purpose and profit, aiming to fight climate change by installing as many residential, commercial, and utility-scale solar panels as possible. The company has also become a trusted vendor within the local faith community.
Founded in 2009 by Herve Billiet and Joe Marhamati, Ipsun Solar installs solar panels in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia including Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Herndon, Loudoun, McLean, Manassas, and Vienna. The company wants to make solar available to everyone at a cost that everyone can afford, and they have worked to shape solar policy since the company’s beginning. Policy advances have addressed the climate crisis by enabling community members to more easily install solar and reduce their carbon footprints.