Region Forward Blog

Sustainable DC: A Major Advance in Moving the Region Forward

Apr 1, 2013


Laine Cidlowski AICP Urban Sustainability Planner and Tanya Stern Chief of Staff DC Office of Planning

On February 20 Mayor Vincent C. Gray released what is being lauded as one of the nation’s most ambitious plans to improve quality of life in the Washington Metro region. The Sustainable DC Plan establishes a bold vision to make the District “…the healthiest greenest most livable city in the nation” in the next 20 years—one generation.

The goals are ambitious and designed to make the District a model of urban sustainability. For example within 20 years 75% of all local trips will be by transit walking or biking energy use and greenhouse gas emissions will be cut by 50% at least 25% of all District food will come from within 100 miles and there will be at least 20 more acres of active agricultural production. At the same time the city will grow the number of green jobs by 5 times while cutting the city-wide obesity rate by 50%. The many additional goals and actions outlined in the plan can be viewed at

D.C. Mayor Vince Gray speaks at the launch of Sustainable DC.

The Sustainable DC Plan was developed over 18 months through an extensive effort to engage members of the public and challenge District agencies to set aggressive goals to improve the long-term sustainability of our city. The Plan sets aggressive targets across seven areas: the built environment energy food nature transportation waste and water. These sustainability ‘solutions’ are designed to address critical challenges facing the District: protecting and preserving the local and global environment creating jobs and economic opportunity improving citywide health and wellness and celebrating diversity and social equity.

So far the District as a community has shown strong leadership in promoting sustainability. The District government is committed to renewable energy and now purchases 100% green power. Thanks to individuals and businesses that have also chosen to buy green power the District has been US EPA’s #1 Green Power Community two years running. Across the city private developers and District agencies are rapidly implementing green building practices to conserve resources and ensure a healthy indoor environment for workers residents and school children. The District is also ranked #1 in per capita development of LEED green buildings and ENERGY STAR labeled buildings. The city is also continuing to promote healthy and active lifestyles through Capital Bikeshare the nation’s most expansive and popular bike share program and making major investments in restoring our city parks. These are just some of the ways Washington DC is committed to new and innovative practices to promote a sustainable future.

Even before the release of the Sustainable DC Plan Mayor Gray was making strong commitments to moving from a vision of sustainability to reality. In December 2012 the Mayor awarded $4.5 million dollars to fund twelve projects across District agencies to save energy expand community gardens restore tree canopy reduce air pollution and expand innovative green building practices as the District continues to promote cutting-edge programs across the city.

The Sustainable DC Plan is intended to improve the lives of residents in every corner of the District and ensure prosperity for generations to come. Please take a few minutes to look over the Plan and see what role you can play in building a greener healthier city. The Plan and resources are available at and you can get more information by emailing


This is the initial post in The Yardstick’s second annual Earth Month blog series. During the month of April we will highlight news and events related to the environment climate change and energy.


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