Sustainable DC 2.0

The District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) released its Sustainable DC 2.0 plan on April 23, 2019, updating its 2013 plan. The 2.0 plan reports on the District's progress in meeting its sustainability goals: reporting that 27% of the 2013 plan’s actions have been completed and 71% are in progress. New sustainability actions are presented under 13 focal topics including: Governance, Equity, Built Environment, Climate, Economy, Education, Energy, Food, Health, Nature, Transportation, Waste, and Water. Throughout, the 2.0 plan includes discussion of how climate change will affect these different focal topics. The Climate section sets adaptation and mitigation priorities for the city, including “specific policies tailored toward the District Government and stakeholders, such as real estate developers, whose work impacts many people.”

Sustainable DC 2.0 was developed in the context of the District of Columbia in 2018, as the city is undergoing rapid demographic and economic changes. The plan was developed with extensive community engagement and feedback while in draft form, before publication in 2019. Each of the 13 topics is organized into distinct Goals, Targets, and Actions: Goals present the District's overarching ambition, Targets provide the quantifiable method of tracking progress towards the goal such as a particular achievement and timeline, and Actions within Goals delineate how the District will reach each of its Targets.

The 2.0 plan includes a specific climate change Goal to advance adaptation, preparedness and resilience - with a Target of requiring all new buildings, infrastructure and neighborhoods to incorporate adaptation planning for climate risks by 2032.

Climate-adaptation focused actions include:

  • Evaluate and reduce the vulnerability of the District’s transportation, energy, water, and telecommunications infrastructure to the anticipated impacts of climate change (CL2.1). For example, the plan recommends that District energy systems and microgrids be installed in critical facilities like hospitals to provide backup power when the grid is down.
  • Improve emergency and community preparedness to respond to climate change events including extreme heat, storms, and flooding, with a focus on the most at-risk populations (CL 2.2).
  • Require all new development projects to assess climate risks and incorporate climate adaptation solutions (CL 2.3). For example, green infrastructure is described as an option to help reduce runoff and flooding.
  • Fully implement and regularly update the Climate Ready DC plan (CL 2.4).

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s vision is ‘to make the District of Columbia the healthiest, greenest, most livable city for all District residents.’ Goals set forth in the first Sustainable DC were to become the greenest city in the nation, and equitable inclusivity in doing so has become a focal point for this update.


As a short term goal, the Equity section in the Sustainable DC 2.0 plan calls for the creation of an Equity Impact Assessment Tool for District Government agencies to use in the development of holistic sustainability plans and policies that address underserved residents.

Some of the areas of the District that are most likely to flood or experience power outages during extreme weather are found to correlate with vulnerable populations. The District will utilize the Vulnerable Populations Map used in Climate Ready DC, to develop inclusive emergency and community preparedness plans. 

 Other climate-related actions are included in other focal topics, including:

  • Built Environment: retrofit public housing and other DC funded projects to to enhance water and energy efficiency (BE3.1, BE 4.1); expand the green building workforce (BE 3.2); incorporate sustainability best practices in neighborhood planning (BE 4.3); adopt latest green construction codes (BE 4.4).
  • Economy: provide training, financial assistance and marketing for jobs in sustainability business start-ups targeting populations underrepresented in business ownership (EC1.1); launch the DC Green Bank by 2020 to support investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency (EC 1.6); help connect and create new paid job opportunities for underemployed residents, young adults and students in sustainability and climate (EC 2.2, 2.3).
  • Energy: improve the reliability and resilience of the electrical grid using smart grid technologies and distributed energy sources (EN 3.2); remove barriers and enable deployment of neighborhood-scale energy systems and distributed energy sources and develop plan to deploy neighborhood-scale energy systems in at-risk communities by 2020 (EN 3.3, 3.4).
  • Health: develop an interagency heat management strategy to minimize the injury rate associated with extreme cold and heat temperature days (HE 2.5); increase public awareness campaigns concerning how to prevent bites and control diseases spread by mosquitos, ticks and other pests where rising temperatures from climate change may increase the length of seasons and the geographic range of disease carrying insects (HE 3.4).
  • Nature: achieve 40% tree canopy cover by 2032 to address climate impacts from flooding and the heat island effect (NA2.1); create habitat connectivity plan to guide restoration in DC and surrounding jurisdictions (NA 2.5); use native plants and trees and landscaping in green infrastructure (NA 2.4, 2.6); incorporate nature and use biophilic design throughout the city (NA 3.5).
  • Transportation: develop design guidelines to ensure transit systems are resilient to climate change (TR1.4)
  • Water: install and maintain four million sq ft of green roof to cool neighborhoods and prevent stormwater runoff (WT2.1); incorporate large-scale stormwater collection into redevelopment processes (WT2.3); grow the stormwater retention credit trading program (WT2.4) streamline and coordinate incentive programs for combined green roofs and solar projects (WT2.5); update building codes and develop incentives for water-efficiency measures in landscaping and buildings (WT3.1, 3.2); identify and implement the most effective steps to improve the resilience of the drinking water system to natural and human disasters (WT4.1).

Publication Date: April 23, 2019

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  • District of Columbia

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