Sustainability and Environment

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Office of Sustainability and Management (OSEM)

As the nation's first LEED Platinum certified community, Arlington County is a nationally recognized leader in creating a sustainable and resilient urban environment. We have long-proven success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, managing stormwater, fostering environmental stewardship, and promoting our residents’ health and well-being. The Office of Sustainability and Environmental Management (OSEM) is a division of the County’s Department of Environmental Services (DES), includes the Stormwater Program and the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy, and acts as the County’s central agency for strategic planning, coordination, and implementation of Arlington’s energy and climate objectives. OSEM’s success, however, relies fundamentally on its collaboration and coordination across the government enterprise, and with external partners and stakeholders in governance, commerce, academia, non-profit, and the private sector. 

While many of our programs and projects span across all three categories, we have highlighted example mitigation, adaptation, and resilience projects below. 


Action to reduce adverse environmental triggers that amplify greenhouse gas emissions, repetitive inland flooding (outside FEMA floodplains), extreme heat trends and events.


The strategies and measures that preemptively adjust and adapt civic systems and operations to new or changing climate conditions, reduce or avoid negative climate-driven impacts, and leverage new technologies, models, and opportunities. 

Adaptation is the action taken to help communities and ecosystems cope with changing climate conditions to moderate potential harm or optimize potential beneficial opportunities. (International Panel on Climate Change, AR5 Synthesis Report, 2014)


The capacity of a community, business, or natural environment to respond to and recover from disturbances, while retaining the basic functions of the system.

Typically, OSEM’s approach does not segregate these objectives; often, strategies for mitigation, adaptation, and resilience are inter-related and co-sensitive (an action in one approach creates a positive outcome in another). For example, large-scale energy efficiency (mitigation) also lowers demand on the grid in extreme events (adaptation) and promotes more rapid restoration of power when extreme events cause inoperability of the grid or outages (resilience).

As more of our systems (buildings) and sectors (transportation) become increasingly electrified and demand on the grid dramatically increases, OSEM’s strategic approach of leveraging actions across all three is all the more critical.

Examples of Co-Dependence and Inter-Sensitivity in OSEM Programs





Community Energy Plan (CEP)

CEP Roadmap

Renewable Energy

Energy Assurance Plan (EAP)

Risk Assessment and Management Plan (RAMP)

Carbon Neutral Transportation Decarbonization Plan

ARTBus ZEB Study & Electrification of Bus Fleet

Green Building Incentive Program

Reducing Flood Risk and Community Rating System Program

Sustainable Facilities Strategy

Green Infrastructure and Urban Forestry

Support Land Use Planning (e.g., Plan Langston Boulevard)

Water Quality Regulation and Programming

Extreme Heat


Click on a program to learn more.