green: Climate Change
DC Home Mayor DC Guide Residents Business Visitors DC Government Kids
dot
Blue Skies  
Green DC
Comprehensive resource on environmental issues.


Green DC Home
Green DC Home
Green DC Home
Green DC Home
Green DC Home
Green DC Home
Green DC Home
Green Energy DC
Green Energy DC
Green Energy DC
Green Energy DC
Green Energy DC
Green Energy DC
Green Energy DC
Green Hot Topics
Green Hot Topics
Green Hot Topics
Green Hot Topics
Green Hot Topics
Green Hot Topics
Mayor's Green Team
Green Hot Topics
Mayor's Green Team
Mayor's Green Team
Mayor's Green Team
Mayor's Green Team
Mayor's Green Team
Mayor's Green Team
Green Services
Green Services
Green Services
Green Services
Green Services
Green Services
Green Services
Green Partners
Green Partners
Green Partners
Green Partners
Green Partners
Green Partners
Green Partners
Green Library
Green Library
Green Library
Green Library
Green Library
Green Library
Green Library
Family Smiling in Their Yard

Climate of Opportunity: A Draft Climate Action Plan for the District of Columbia
 
District Government is to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions 30% by 2020
capitol.leedbuilding2.jpg  
What will a changing climate mean for each of us in the District of Columbia? How can we ensure that the District remains the economic engine for our area and the place where people want to live and businesses want to grow? Records show that our average temperatures and water levels are rising, and recent history shows just how much extreme weather can affect our daily lives. Climate change means our city faces a range of challenges.
 
But climate change can have another meaning as well: opportunity. Planning for climate change means identifying opportunities to live and work more efficiently and working aggressively to create jobs and strengthen the local economy. For current residents, institutions and businesses, there are opportunities to save money and become more efficient consumers of energy and water. As new markets grow for renewable energy, alternative fuel vehicles, and high efficiency buildings, additional opportunities are created for new jobs and businesses.
 
For the past year, agencies across the District Government have been working to measure the District's "carbon footprint"-the amount of greenhouse gases we generate each year-and to draft a plan with specific targets and actions to reduce our emissions.
 
The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory (discussed further below) revealed that the District's greenhouse gas emissions in 2006 totaled 10.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) - 18 tons CO2e for each District resident. This value is lower than the national average of 19.6 CO2e per capita, but higher than many other cities (see Figure ES.1 to the right). The inventory also showed that operations of the District of Columbia Government accounted for 6% of the total emissions for the District, or 720,000 metric tons of CO2e.
  co2.3chart.jpg
 
co2.2chart.jpg  
Our draft plan focuses on reducing these emissions and will begin an open, public engagement to help refine just what your District Government can do, and just what the city's businesses and residents can do to create a cooler, greener, healthier and more efficient city for the 21st Century. We have identified a range of progressive practices and leadership, within government and across the city, to make the District a climate leader for the region and the nation.
 
To lead by example, and to capitalize on the many benefits of energy efficiency and climate protection, the District Government is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% (below 2006 levels) by 2012, 30% by 2020, and 80% by 2050 (see Figure ES.4 to the left).
 
Despite higher emissions than some comparison cities, the District, like other urban centers, enjoys many advantages and opportunities to achieve greater efficiency. Dense development, availability of mass transit, and walkable neighborhoods inherently support our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The District's Climate Action Plan should take advantage of the opportunities presented by our urban infrastructure to ensure efficiency gains.
 
The District has in place a number of progressive policies and programs that are already reducing energy use and promoting renewable energy and alternative transportation, lowering our emissions of greenhouse gases. These policies have elevated the District to the top of many measures of urban sustainability.
  • The Green Building Act, Clean and Affordable Energy Act, and 2008 Construction Codes set the stage for greening our buildings, which are tied to 74% of our city's greenhouse gases emissions. Thanks to strong adoption by the private sector, the District has more LEED and Energy Star certified buildings than any city our size and some of the most progressive energy codes.
  • Green and "cool" roofs keep buildings more comfortable and save energy and the District has one of the most aggressive green roof programs in the country. Our public and private buildings have over 800,000 square feet of green roofs (second in the nation behind Chicago). Green and cool roofs help cool our city, improve air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently recognized the District a national leader (third among cities nationwide) in purchasing renewable power. The city's renewable portfolio standard, which will require all power sold into the city to be 20% renewable by 2020, and the renewable energy incentive program is funding 200 residential and business photovoltaic installations each year.
  • Perhaps Washington's strongest legacy of environmental stewardship is in the acceptance and use of sustainable transportation. Thirty-nine percent of residents commute by mass transit and more than a third of households-37%-do not even own cars. Car-sharing, fleet-sharing by the District Government and bike sharing are all expanding and will allow us to be less and less reliant on fossil fuel and further decrease our greenhouse gas emissions.
It is time that all of us recognize this city's great strides to become a sustainability leader and commit to working together to be the greenest city in the nation. Each green school and office, car and bike share trip, green or solar roof installed represents the District's commitment to energy efficiency, saving money, and creating a greenest, most livable city for us all.

We Want Your Comments and Input
This document is a Draft for Community Discussion. You can contribute to the District's climate planning effort by providing input in two ways: First, the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) is asking for public comments on the list of proposed Government Operations Actions (Section 6.1) by November 15, 2010. You may request information and submit comments to climate.plan@dc.gov or by mail to:
DDOE, Climate Action Comments
1200 First St NE, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20002.
 
Second, you can participate in a series of public forums and meetings convened by DDOE to gather input and comments on the proposed Government Operations Plan (Section 6.1) and the Community Discussion Draft (Section 6.2). More information on the climate engagement process can be optained through climate.plan@dc.gov, or by calling 202-535-2600.
 

This Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory, also known as a “carbon footprint,” estimates the total amount of carbon dioxide and other GHG emissions released into the atmosphere as a result of energy consumption, vehicle use and other activities in the District of Columbia.  Conducting our GHG inventory is best understood as placing a “bubble” over the city and counting GHG emissions attributed to activities that occur within the District’s boundaries.
 
This Inventory estimates emissions attributed to both government operations and broader community activities within the District during calendar year 2006 (selected as our “baseline” year because of superior data quality and accuracy). The community inventory includes estimated GHG emissions from all building energy use, vehicles fuel use and transportation, and emissions from waste streams. The government operations inventory, which is a subset of the community inventory, provides a much more in-depth analysis of emissions from the District’s local government operations, including government-operated facilities and streetlights, vehicle fleet and off-road equipment, and waste generated by government operations.
 
 
In calendar year 2006, our city-wide GHG emissions from electricity consumption and other direct sources totaled 10.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), or about 18 tons per resident. This amount is below the EPA’s national average of 19.7 tons per person, but higher than other major cities due to energy use by the District’s large day-time population of workers who commute into the city. Figure 1 provides a breakdown of emissions by sector, including: buildings (residential, non-residential, and federal); vehicles (indicated as VMT or vehicle miles traveled); mass transit (Metro); and waste. With 75 percent of our GHG emissions linked to buildings, one of our most effective emissions reduction actions will be comprehensive energy use reduction in buildings. Figure 2 provides a breakdown of the specific energy sources of our greenhouse gas emissions, including electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, vehicle fuel (gasoline and diesel), kerosene, and emissions from solid waste. Electricity consumption is our largest driver of GHG emissions.
 
                                       Figure 1                                                            Figure 2
 
Two pie charts of District greenhouse gas emissions.

Why is a GHG Inventory Important?

The District of Columbia—along with community and government leaders around the nation and the world—recognizes that human-caused climate change is a reality and presents the potential for harm to District’s residents, institutions, and businesses.  Sea level rise and flooding, increased urban heat effect, changes in weather patterns, and reliability of energy supply are some of the challenges that the District may face in a changing climate. 

With this recognition comes the awareness that cities play a critical role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the potential impacts of climate change through actions taken to reduce emissions from government operations and from the community as a whole.  The District’s GHG Inventory represents a critical first step towards the development of a Climate Action Plan.  This inventory quantifies the “baseline” emissions, which will be used to track progress made towards emissions reduction goals over time, and also shows the District’s emissions profile from its government operations and community sources.

What Can Each of Us Do to Reduce GHG Emissions?

For Residents
  • Conduct an energy audit of your home and implement energy saving measures.
  • Purchase only Energy Star® appliances and watch for District Rebate Programs.
  • Unplug electronics when not in used (a power strip makes this more convenient).
  • Walk, bike or use public transportation whenever possible; go car free at least one day a week.
  • Keep the homecooler in winter and warmer in the summer.
For Businesses
  • Conduct an energy audit of your facilities and implement energy saving measures.
  • Reduce vehicle fleets or convert to alternative fuel vehicles.
  • Take advantage of the Commuter Connections® and SmartBenefits® programs to reduce vehicle use.
Climate Change Resources
  • ICLEI: The District is participating in ICLEI's Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, which helps cities to adopt policies that will have a measurable impact on greenhouse gas emissions. This is accomplished by conducting a baseline measurement of emissions and then developing a climate action plan that sets a specific target for emission reduction.

  • Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement: Signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty in January 2007, this agreement is an initiative by the U.S. Council of Mayors to meet the goals of the Kyoto Protocol at a local level.

  • Calculate Your Carbon Footprint: Curious as to how much carbon emissions your daily activities produce? Use this tool to measure your impact and learn about ways to reduce your emissions.
 

* This document is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing.
Download a PDF Reader or Learn More About PDFs.