Washington DC Unveils Game Changing Sustainable DC Plan

This week, Washington DC unveiled the Sustainable DC Plan, a very substantial strategy to move the district to a renewable energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions in half.

It lays out a path to "make the District the healthiest, greenest, most livable city in the nation over the next 20 years," it says.

The wide-ranging plan cites sustainability as the way to create jobs and support local businesses, improve air quality and reduce toxic exposures, ensure equal access to services, protection natural resources and prepare for climate change. It covers the gamut: energy, food, transportation, buildings, waste, water and restoration of nature.

In January, Mayor Gray signed the Sustainable DC Act into law. The legislation including financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and even includes urban beekeeping, protecting rivers from chemicals, and energy assistance for low-income and elderly residents.

The district is already a leader, recently requiring that all buildings – publicly and privately owned – measure their energy and water use each year. It also leads the nation on LEED-certified square footage per capita, and is home to the first and largest bicycle sharing program in North America. Nissan plans to install 40 electric vehicle charging stations there.

The district already buys over 8% of its electricity from renewables – the #1 EPA Green Power Community in the US.

Among Sustainable DC’s impressive targets to be met by 2032 are:

  • Energy consumption will be cut 50% by funding $500 million of renewable energy and efficiency retrofits
  • Water use will be cut 40%
  • Renewable energy will supply 50% of the energy
  • All new buildings and major infrastructure projects will undergo a climate change impact analysis as part of the regulatory planning process
  • All public school buildings will be retrofited to earn a minimum of LEED-Gold
  • All existing commercial and multi-family buildings will be retrofited to net-zero energy, and all new construction will meet those standards
  • 75% of residents will live a quarter mile from fresh, local food
  • Wetlands acreage on the Anacostia and Potomac rivers will be increased 50%
  • A streetcar network will stretch 37 miles and there will be 100 miles of bike lanes
  • Limits will be set for how long engines are allowed to "idle" and incentives to purchase clean vehicles will eliminate "unhealthy" air quality days
  • Total waste generation will drop 15% and no solid waste will be sent to landfills. Facilities will be established that accept residential and commercial compost.
  • 2 million square feet of green roofs will be added and a  tree canopy will cover 40% of the city to control stormwater runoff and improve air quality.

Here’s the plan:

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