City improvements include new bicycle lanes. (Courtesy of Street Mixology)
City improvements include new bicycle lanes. (Courtesy of Street Mixology)

The D.C. Department of Energy and Environment aims to make Washington the healthiest, greenest and most livable city in the nation by 2032.

The 2017 Sustainable DC Progress Report gives a detailed explanation of the progress on all 143 actions in the Sustainable DC Plan.

“Four years into implementation of Sustainable DC, we’re seeing some impressive progress: the District’s greenhouse gas emissions are down 24 percent since 2006 despite a growing population and economy, 65 percent of District neighborhoods are walkable, 82 percent of residents are food secure and 58 percent of commuter trips are made by bike, walking or transit,” said Tommy Wells, director of the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). “But in such a rapidly changing city, we know a citywide plan needs to adapt with it.”

The DOEE asserts that sustainability means growing the District’s economy and ensuring that all residents have access to jobs; socially, it means ensuring fairness and providing equal opportunities for the entire population.

Four years ago Sustainable DC came into fruition through hundreds of community members and their ideas. Today with over 20 ambassadors and 176 volunteers the initiative boasts 72 percent of its actions underway and 25 percent complete.

At the eighth annual District Sustainability Awards, Sustainable DC honored seven local champions doing their part to make the city green. Atlas Brew Works, Compost Cab, Grid Alternatives, Historic Congressional Cemetery and Eco Caters/SuperFD were acknowledged for their leadership.

The inaugural People’s Choice Award went to American University for purchasing 100 percent renewable electricity, building all new construction to LEED Gold standards, and aggressively pursuing their zero-waste goal.

“If there is one constant in the District of Columbia, it is change,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “This past year has certainly seen more change than most. In this uncertain political landscape, it has become remarkably clear that it will be cities that lead the way in creating a more sustainable and resilient world.”

In the face of higher temperatures, rising tides and more frequent severe storms, the District took action as outlined in the progress report to combat climate change while increasing the city’s resilience against the environment.

“In November, I joined Mayor Hidalgo of Paris and dozens of mayors in Mexico City for an international conversation on how cities can advance climate action,” Bowser said. “This fall, I also released Climate Ready DC, the District’s climate adaptation plan.”

The plan outlines 77 actions the District will take to build a stronger D.C. against climate change.

“I am committed to climate change, but I am also working hard to make the District a more equitable and livable place for all residents,” Bowser said. “That is why this past year I fought to include a walkability preference for District public charter schools, allowing more children to walk to school.”

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) also installed miles of bike lanes, for a total of 80 miles across the city.

The mayor’s office and the DDOE encourages residents to get involved by preventing food waste and becoming a sustainability champion.

“We’ve now launched the community engagement process that will result in a major update to the plan, ensuring it reflects the priorities and needs of all communities in the District,” Wells said. “I strongly encourage everyone to visit to provide feedback on what’s important to you and your neighbors and to get involved.”

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Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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