More than 50 local planners gathered at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) for a Sustainability in Comprehensive Plans Workshop on December 5 to share their expertise about incorporating innovative environmental, social, and economic policies in community plans, and hear about the latest in best practices from the American Planning Association’s Sustaining Places and the STAR Communities rating system. Participants also heard about Plano, Texas’s comprehensive plan and Norfolk, Virginia’s sea level rise visioning project.
Groundbreaking and holistic practices are being built into comp plans around the region. Prince George’s County’s Vision 2035 plan describes policies on climate change, green buildings, forest and tree canopy, and water quality. Tanya Stern from the District of Columbia described the development of the Resilience Element to their comprehensive plan, one of the first such comp plan elements in the nation. Gaithersburg found it helpful to seek feedback from local environmental groups, EPA, and COG in crafting their Environment and Sustainability Element. Maryland National Capital Park & Planning, Montgomery County, pulled from different models, such as Ecodistricts and STAR Communities, to design the Bethesda Sector Plan. Alexandria’s Eisenhower West Small Area Plan has won several awards and includes transit-oriented development, stream revitalization, renewable energy, and recycling.
Reducing carbon pollution, smart growth, and adapting to climate change and flooding impacts were key themes that many jurisdictions are addressing through comp plans. Although participants expressed optimism on shaping future growth sustainably, there is a need to find creative ways of making current developed areas more sustainable. Speakers shared that the best plans recognize the inextricable links between fostering a resilient economy, providing diverse transportation and housing choices, protecting natural resources, and supporting healthy communities now and into the future.
Workshop related presentations and reference resources are available on the workshop event page here.
COG's climate and energy work is guided by its Region Forward Vision and the National Capital Region Climate Change Report.