On Sept.14 District of Columbia officials hosted a day-long symposium at Gallaudet University to discuss plans for building what they called the “green D.C.” by 2032. By then, according to D.C. 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. Gray hopes that the future generation of residents will look upon his administration with pride for its ability to think and plan ahead.

The origin for Gray’s vision was sparked by a white paper written by Siemens USA, a corporate think tank, about sustainability that he read one day at a conference. This paper led the Mayor to call upon his team to develop a vision for building a green, sustainable D.C. To mark Earth Day this year, the Mayor rolled out this vision in a white paper of his own entitled A Vision for a Sustainable D.C..

The mid-September conference gave the Mayor a chance to get feedback on this vision from the District’s construction industry including developers, construction companies, and architects.

The symposium was designed to help put into practice the Mayor’s goal to create a sustainable environment in the District, which he artfully defined as “striking that balance between how we continue to grow and become more sophisticated, and yet mindful of energy conservation, mindful of how we get around, and mindful of what we do, what kind of buildings we work in.”

At the heart of Gray’s vision 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 U.S. Green Building Council.

To stimulate the construction of green buildings, Brenden Shane, of the D.C. Department of the Environment, announced the plans to introduce a green building code as the design foundation of future construction.

The “Green Code,” will help achieve the District’s goal of using fifty percent less energy in D.C. buildings, said Shane. “By 2032, we need buildings that produce as much energy as they use,” Shane added. “The Green Code will help us do that.”

Shane also reviewed plans to stimulate urban agriculture where food is grown on roofs so “You have locally grown food accessible to everyone across the District.”

In the end, the Mayor’s sustainability plan and summits like this, will be at the leading edge of the battle to “chip away” at city’s unemployment rate, Shane said.


Talib I. Karim

Special to the AFRO