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Adding To New Sustainable DC Plans, District Gets Nearly $100,000 For Stormwater Initiative

Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray introducing Sustainable DC Plan initiatives. Photo courtesy of wusa9.com

As part of a package of grants totaling an estimated $400,000 to be distributed among several municipalities and nonprofit organizations around Maryland and Washington, D.C., the District will receive a grant of $95,000 to support stormwater management and green street development adjacent to the famed Dunbar Senior High School which is also being newly renovated.

The school’s roots date back to 1870, when it was founded as the “Preparatory High School for Colored Youth,” before being renamed the “M Street School.” With the re-opening of the school’s previous campus in 1916, it was renamed in honor of Paul Laurence Dunbar who was among the first African-American poet to ever gain national critical acclaim.

Dunbar’s works addressed African-Americans’ difficulties to achieve equality in America during the turn of the 20th century.  Dunbar was born on June 27, 1872 to Matilda and Joshua Dunbar, both natives of Kentucky. His mother was a former slave and his father had escaped from slavery and served in the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War.

The Dunbar school is known for its rigorous academic reputation. The grant announcements were made by Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray. The other six grants will include projects in Cambridge, Md., Prince George’s County, Md., Northumberland County, Pa., and Richmond, Va.

Each of the projects has been designed to improve water quality, increase efficiency, and promote environmental best practices. The grants are part of the Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) program, which is a public-private partnership supporting urban green infrastructure to improve watershed protection and community livability.

The G3 program is a collaborative effort that includes participants such as the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

In Washington, D.C., the stormwater project will work in conjunction with the District’s newly passed Sustainable DC Plan. The 20-year plan – with targets set for 2032 – is designed to improve citywide health through measures including creating new green building infrastructure, transportation improvements, clean air regulations, new city gardens, and increased wetland protection and restoration.

Among the Sustainable DC Plan initiatives are to control pollution caused by stormwater runoff by creating an additional 2,000,000 square feet of green roofs, and increase the tree canopy in the District by at least 40 percent. The initiative calls for the District to “plant 8,600 new trees citywide per year until 2032.”

Also among the initiatives will be to improve the quality of neighborhoods and building energy efficiencies. The plan calls for the development of a “Healthy by Design” program for new affordable housing projects with a priority focus in low-income and underserved neighborhoods.

The plan calls for a target to be met by 2032, that all new construction projects meet net-zero or net-positive energy use standards. The plan is also expected to “provide incentives for new building projects to achieve at least the LEED Gold standard.”

There are also targets for 2032 to retrofit 100 percent of existing commercial and multi-family buildings to achieve net-zero energy standards. This is expected to involve retrofitting and modernizing all public buildings to at least the LEED Gold standard or equivalent green building certification.

Improving livability will also include targets by 2032 to “eliminate environmental health threats such as mold, lead, and carbon monoxide in at least 50 percent of the District’s affordable housing.” This is expected to expanding existing programs to “train 100 District residents in the latest green construction skills.”

The District has also set a target to “cut citywide energy use by 50 percent” within the next 20 years. Mayor Gray has already committed $4.5 million to fund sustainability projects across the city.

The plan involves the establishment of a “minimum energy performance standard” for buildings which will be phased in by building size.

Minimizing the energy needs of buildings will involve modernizing the District’s electricity infrastructure to enable the expansion of local energy generation projects; building 1,000 additional residential and commercial renewable energy projects; and developing a plan for a citywide rollout of smart meters and smart grid infrastructure.

The District also plans to work with utility companies to improve the reliability of energy transmission and distribution.

In addition, to improve energy efficiencies in the public domain, the District plans to “develop a wind farm in the region to power District government and private facilities.”

The Sustainable DC Plan is also expected to introduce several waste management initiatives. Among these goals will be to set a target by 2032 to “send zero solid waste to landfills per year and reduce total waste generation by 15 percent.” Among the initiatives scheduled to make this happen are:

  • introducing a new bottle deposit law.
  • introducing a Pay-As-You-Throw pricing structure for waste collection services.
  • banning Styrofoam and non-recyclable plastic containers from food and retail outlets.

For recycling efforts, the plan is expected to include the following initiatives:

  • increasing the size of recycling bins.
  • providing all households with a three-track waste collection process.
  • Increasing recycling receptacles in the public realm.

The District also plans to provide incentives for residential composting and recycling. The District plans to design and build three-to-four compost sites to be co-located with both urban farms and community gardens to test different methods of composting for residential drop-off. The sites will be managed by an external contractor and include community education and tracking mechanisms.

The Districts also targets by 2032 to devote an additional 20 acres of land to growing food. This will include the installation of educational gardens in at least 50 percent of District public schools, as well as developing orchards or other producing landscapes on five acres of District public spaces.

The district also has a target by 2032 of ensuring that “75 percent of DC residents live within a ¼ mile of a community garden, farmers’ market or healthy corner store.”

This initiative will also include introducing “fresh food circulators and mobile vendors in neighborhoods with poor access to fresh foods,” as well as developing cooperative food processing systems. By 2032, the District would like to be able to either produce or obtain at least 25 percent of its food from within a 100-mile radius.

The District also plans to initiate initiatives to improve preservation of the local environment, which is expected to include the creation of more parks as well as increase the conservation efforts of local wetlands.

 The district says that by 2032, it would like to “provide parkland or natural space within a 10-minute walk of all residents.” This is expected to entail:

  • renovating and improving all District playgrounds.
  • expanding the formal trail network for hiking and biking.
  • creating small parks and green spaces in areas with inadequate open spaces.
  • improving transit linkages to parks and natural areas.

The District also plans to expand the Capital Bikeshare program by 200 stations, as well as develop a citywide 100-mile bicycle network.

In addition, the District is setting a target for 2032 to “reduce commuter trips made by car or taxi to 25 percent.” This is expected to include: expanding car-sharing programs to low-income residents using financial tools; encouraging private businesses to offer incentives for employee travel by transit, walking, or biking; and encouraging and promoting telecommuting and alternative work schedules for employees.

Also in an effort to improve air quality, the District is planning on initiatives, including: encouraging private businesses (though requiring the District government) to purchase clean fuel, low-emission fleet vehicles; as well as expanding the electric vehicle charging infrastructure throughout the city.

 The District also plans to support cleaner air quality by working to “strictly limit idling engines.” As part of this effort, the District’s metropolitan police department is planning to “install and evaluate on-board batteries and idling controls in police cars that are stationary for long periods.”

The District says that this technology will permit stationary cruisers to use required electronics without running their engines, save fuel, and reduce vehicle emissions. These installations will be targeted in areas of the city with high asthma rates.

Reader comments and input are always welcomed!

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