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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Sustainably In our Local Cities

Oct 01, 2014 09:07AM
by Robin Fillmore

The greater Washington D.C. area is known nationally for innovative sustainability efforts in cities throughout the region.

Washington D.C.

Since the summer of 2011, Washington D.C. has been on a drive to become “the healthiest, greenest, most livable city in the nation over the next 20 years.” The plan is a centerpiece of Mayor Gray’s administration and is built on a model of engaging and collaborating with residents, workers, business leaders and professional experts. Seven working groups met in the summer of 2012 to provide recommendations to move this plan forward in specific issue areas of climate, built environment, energy, food, green economy, nature, transportation, waste and water.

The goals for the plan include an increase transit, biking, walking to 75 percent of all commuter trips, cut citywide unemployment by 50 percent and increase five times the number of green jobs and services, reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent and reduce energy consumption by 50 percent, increase the use of renewable energy by 50 percent and to insure that at least 75 percent of residents have access to nutritious foods.

For more information about Sustainable DC, sign up for regular updates through their website at


In the nationwide list of mid-sized cities, Alexandria ranked as one of the nation’s 10 greenest cities, based on the social aggregation site, This honor comes in recognition of its number of public parks, number of recycling center, its environmentally conscious commuters and its walk score. This high rating is bolstered by services such as the free hybrid King Street Trolley, which enables residents and visitors to move about the city. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has likewise recognized Alexandria, naming it as one of the “Ten Most Walkable Cities” in the country.

The move to create a more sustainable city began in 2007, when the city partnered with Virginia Tech’s Department of Urban Affairs and Planning. Eco-City Alexandria was launched with the goal to create a charter and plan move the city toward environmental sustainability. The following year, an Eco-Summit was held to enable the public to engage with the plans and soon the charter and plan were launched in June 2009. Today, the Environmental Action Plan 2030 (EAP 2030) provides guiding principles and serves as a road map for city leaders to meet 48 goals, 50 targets and 353 actions to lead the City toward environmental sustainability by the year 2030.

For more information about Eco-City Alexandra, visit


            In Bethesda, much of the impetus for sustainability comes from citizen groups, such as Bethesda Green. The organization brings together individuals, businesses and leaders to work collectively on innovative solutions for sustainability. The organization was started in 2008 with Dave Feldman serving as its first executive director. Just recently, Feldman stepped aside to grow the Bethesda Green model in other communities and Véronique Marier was named as the new executive director.

Throughout downtown Bethesda, Bethesda Green’s recycling bins are strategically placed in highly-trafficked areas but much of their work is done by engaging the business community. They are known for providing space and support for some of the region’s most promising green businesses through their “green business incubator.” For established businesses, such as restaurants, they provide information and support on how to become a green restaurant, focusing on issues such as waste oil, composting and green construction. For the community, they offer talks and events, including their big gala and awards celebration on October 9.

For more information about Bethesda Green, visit


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