Founding Member Profile: District of Columbia Leading Next Generation Urban Revitalization

Sustainable DC is Washington, DC’s plan to make the nation’s capital the healthiest, greenest and most livable city in the nation by 2032.

As the seat of the federal government and home to the White House and Capitol Hill, Washington is more than a federal city, it is a city of thriving neighborhoods, long-standing communities, exuberant energy and one that is leading the nation in walkability, transit, green infrastructure, the sharing economy and innovative thinking. Nearly 650,000 people call the District of Columbia home, andSustainable DC is the guide to the City’s future.

Rendering of St. Elizabeths Campus Credit: Government of the District of Columbia
Rendering of St. Elizabeths Campus Credit: Government of the District of Columbia

The Sustainable DC Plan prescribes 143 discreet actions aimed at addressing four challenge areas and seven targeted solutions that cross energy, food, nature, transportation, waste, water and the built environment. Only one year since the Plan’s release, more than 80 percent of these actions have already been put in motion, engaging both the government and private sector in new partnerships around sustainability. The City’s universities, embassies, public schools, health providers, nonprofits and businesses are all getting involved and leveraging their own resources, talents, energy and ideas to advance Sustainable DC goals.

The District of Columbia is greener and more sustainable than ever before, with a rapidly expanding bike share network, more green roof coverage per capita than any city in the nation and a local government that purchases 100 percent of its power from renewable energy sources.

The District of Columbia’s renewed focus on livability has assisted an unprecedented renaissance; the city has been growing at the rate of more than a thousand people per month for the past three years. Neighborhoods city-wide are seeing increased investment in housing, commercial enterprises and public infrastructure. Young entrepreneurs are flocking to the city and empty nesters are returning in large numbers from the surrounding suburbs. The District government is building new parks and playgrounds, renovating schools, increasing the public investment in streetscapes, and placing a renewed focus on clean energy and green business development and jobs training.

DowntownDC Business Improvement District. Photo Credit: District of Columbia

And finally, three districts within the city have joined EcoDistricts’ Target Cities pilot program to accelerate neighborhood-driven regeneration and innovation in three projects, the SW Ecodistrict, St. Elizabeths | Congress Heights, and DowntownDC Ecodistrict.

  • SW Ecodistrict is a long-range plan to turn an isolated neighborhood defined by massive federal office buildings into a lively, ecologically progressive neighborhood.
  • St. Elizabeths | Congress Heights is a mixed-use campus and low income neighborhood of more than 350 acres, with an opportunity to leverage federal investment dollars in a manner that creates economic opportunity for area residents.
  • DowntownDC Ecodistrict is a 138-block area comprising 90 million square feet of real estate with ambitious energy efficiency and green infrastructure goals to help develop Downtown Washington, DC into the world’s most sustainable financial district.

With all the right ingredients already in place, DC is poised to create a replicable model for next-generation urban revitalization.

Banneker Park will become a nationally significant cultural destination.(Credit: Courtesy of NCPC. Image by ZGF Architects)
Banneker Park will become a nationally significant cultural destination.(Credit: Courtesy of NCPC. Image by ZGF Architects)

The District is the center of a thriving and prosperous region of nearly 6 million people, and an international tourist destination that attracts another 22 million visitors each year. Consistently ranked as one of the most livable, green, best educated, most affluent, and healthiest places in the

country, the District is now a leader in neighborhood-scale sustainable development—from businesses and institutions, to governments and nonprofits, to individual citizens and employees—Washington, DC is a showcase of urban sustainability.

The District of Columbia beckons you to join us in Washington, DC on September 24 – 26 at the EcoDistricts Summit this fall.