White House officials announced yesterday the U.S. Department of Energy’s selection of the National Capital Region as one of 16 national Climate Action Champions, recognizing local and regional efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance climate resilience. The region’s application for this competitive process was submitted by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) in collaboration with its local government members.
Officials lauded COG and its member governments for the National Capital Region Climate Change Report, which they said demonstrates “a fully integrated approach to climate change mitigation.” As Climate Action Champions, COG and its members will be eligible for future targeted federal financial and technical assistance. COG plans to establish a training initiative to share best practices and resources to stakeholders across the region.
“With the opportunity to collaborate with a national network of Climate Action Champions, COG is well positioned to advance efforts to deliver clean, reliable, low-carbon solutions in our community and across the country,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, who serves as Chairman of the COG Climate Energy and Environment Policy Committee.
COG’s recent Climate and Energy Progress Report noted several examples of leadership by area governments on a variety of sustainability initiatives.
- The National Capital Region is a national leader in the number of LEED-certified buildings. The COG Board of Directors adopted a regional green building policy in 2007 and over 50 percent of COG members have established green building policies.
- More than 75 percent of COG members have greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories and over 50 percent have action plans to reduce emissions. COG has supported these efforts through a series of hands-on trainings. In 2012, the District of Columbia reported a 12.5 percent reduction of community-wide GHG emissions (below 2006 levels) and Arlington County reported an 11.7 percent reduction (below 2000 levels).
- Over 80 percent of COG members have on-site renewable energy. COG partnered with EPA Green Power Partners to provide solar assessments at more than 140 public facilities in region, identifying 70 MW of total solar potential. Among projects completed across the region, in 2013, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission installed two 2 MW solar arrays at water treatment plants, and in 2014 Metro constructed a solar powered, net-zero water treatment plant at its Largo facility. Montgomery County has committed to installing six megawatts of solar power on 17 public facilities by 2016.
- Over 40 percent of COG members are developing vulnerability assessments. COG has helped lead several trainings to help our members identify climate vulnerabilities and resilience strategies, as exemplified by the City of Alexandria’s Climate Action Plan and the District Department of Transportation’s Climate Adaptation Framework.
- Over 33 percent of COG members have green street policies and 50 percent have green street initiatives. COG has provided policy templates, training and a guidance document, and the COG Board adopted a Regional Green Streets Policy in 2014. Prince Georges County has adopted a comprehensive Complete and Green Streets Policy.