By Talib I. Karim, Health & Technology Writer
Recently, District of Columbia officials hosted a day-long symposium at Gallaudet University to discuss plans for building what they call a “Green DC” by 2032. By then, according to DC Mayor Vince Gray (D), the District’s population is expected to be near or beyond 900,000. “We are growing at a pace of 1000 per week,” noted Gray.
In 20 years, Gray has set his sight on the District becoming the healthiest, greenest, most livable place in the country. By so doing, Gray hopes that future generations of DC residents will credit his administration for thinking and planning ahead.
Gray says his vision was inspired by a Siemens report about sustainability read by the Mayor while attending a conference. After the conference, Gray recounted that he called upon his team to develop DC’s own plan for sustainability. To mark Earth Day this year, the Mayor rolled out this plan entitled A Vision for a Sustainable DC.
The symposium was a chance for the Mayor to get feedback on this vision from developers, construction companies, and other District building professionals.
According to DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Director Nicholas Majett, the event also sought to advance Mayor Gray’s plan for striking a balance between sophisticated growth and mindful conservation.
A central component of turning the Mayor’s vision into a reality is the construction of green buildings, structures that are designed and operated to reduce their impact on the community and on the health of building occupants, according to the US Green Building Council.
To stimulate the construction of green buildings, Brendan Shane, of the DC Department of the Environment, announced the plans to roll out a Green building code. This code is instrumental in helping achieve the Mayor’s goal of having the District house more than 200 green buildings by 2032, noted Shane.
The “Green Code,” will help achieve the District’s goal of bringing about a “[F]ifty percent (50%) reduction in energy consumption in 20 years,” said Shane. “By 2032, we need buildings that produce as much energy as they use…The Green Code will help us do that,” Shane added.
Shane also reviewed plans to stimulate urban agriculture where food is grown on roofs so, as he envisions, “[Y]ou have locally grown food accessible to everyone across the [District].”
The green symposium included several break-out sessions covering issues including renewable energy, construction and demolition, waste management, and LEED/green building standards. In the end, the Mayor’s sustainability plan and summits like this, hopes to “[U]se a strategic approach of job creation in the green economy to chip away the District’s overall unemployment,” shared Shane.
The writer is a lawyer and talk-show host in the District of Columbia and can be reached at Talib@talibkarim.com.