Two years ago, DC launched a plan to make the District the “healthiest, greenest and most livable city” within the next 20 years, pushing dozens of initiatives to support that goal.
And this April, DC touted its progress in implementing ideas aimed at goals such as cutting citywide energy usage by 50 percent, decreasing water use by 40 percent and providing universal access to nutritious, affordable food, all by 2032. Many parts of plan deal with housing and affect property owners. So changes achieved so far, and those still on the drawing board, are worth watching. Among the developments highlighted in the 2015 report:
- DC's new green construction code requires that 50 percent of construction waste be recycled or salvaged
- The district and its partners planted more than 11,500 trees in 2014
- Walking and biking rates are increasing, and bicyclists have nine new miles of bike lanes and 10 new Capital Bikeshare stations
- Under the city's green roof rebate program, 90,800 square feet of green roofs were installed in 2014
- 1,000 homeowners got financial assistance for projects to reduce storm water runoff
- The district has 577 LEED-certified and 327 Energy Star-certified buildings – the most in the country
- Mayor Muriel Bowser committed to spending $100 million a year to develop new affordable housing through the Housing Production Trust Fund
- Current versions of the zoning rewrite reduced parking minimums and include allowances for accessory dwelling units
Several other initiatives haven't started yet or are still in the early stages of development, including:
- Providing incentives to ensure all new buildings meet at least LEED Gold certification or the equivalent
- Providing incentives for residents to compost and recycle. The district has made progress on providing three-track waste collection
- Rehabbing public housing to be green, healthy and capable of meeting net-zero energy standards
- Establishing Minimum Energy Performance Standard for buildings, phased in by building size
Energy efficiency lowers costs for building owners and managers. In turn, that makes buildings more profitable and attractive, as well as supporting the environment. For a building, sustainability and “going green” can mean a number of things: resource energy-efficient plumbing lighting and trash and recycling systems; updating the HVAC system; changing how the cooling system operates; water refiltration; landscape changes and more.
In total, 85 percent of the 143 actions in the sustainable DC plan are in progress and 8 percent are complete, according to the city. The city's Sustainable DC second year progress report includes more details about plan's initiatives and what's been accomplished so far.