The District of Columbia rightly prides itself on its status as a very green jurisdiction. Green building is an integral part of the District's sustainable development strategy. The DC Green Building Act of 2006 requires that all District public buildings meet the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification standard. When enacted, the DC Green Building Act included phased-in mandates for new private construction, making the District the first city in the nation to require private construction to meet LEED standards. In 2008, the District adopted the 2008 District of Columbia Construction Code, which mandates greener practices in water efficiency, energy efficiency, heat island effect reduction, and improved indoor air quality. In addition, the District has enacted certain environmental laws to protect and clean up waterways. The Anacostia River Clean-Up and Protection Act of 2009 ("Skip the Bag; Save the River") requires District businesses that sell food or alcohol to charge the customer five (5) cents for each disposable paper or plastic carryout bag, with the underlying intent to reduce the amount of disposable bags entering the waste stream.
To access information on these and the many other District green and environmental issues and initiatives, the District has created DC Green, a comprehensive District Department of the Environment (DDOE) website. Click here to access the DDOE Green DC website or go to http://green.dc.gov/green/site/default.asp.
DC Green is brimming with information about current programs, policies, services, events, and issues. Green Hot Topics are highlighted and explained, including ENERGY STAR® appliance rebates (program scheduled to begin on September 20, 2010) and the Skip the Bag; Save the River law. Various Anacostia River initiatives are discussed, and links to legislation on energy and the environment is available, including the Comprehensive Stormwater Management Enhancement Amendment Act of 2008, Clean Cars Act of 2008, Anacostia River Clean-Up and Protection Act of 2009, Healthy Schools Act of 2010, and Energy Efficiency Financing Act of 2010.
The website includes links to other District sites, including the DDOE's Fisheries and Wildlife Division. There is also a link to a Green Library, which includes a glossary of green terms and concepts; an interactive map to search for farmers' markets, locally grown food, and organic options; and other topical resources. Other links provide access to valuable information regarding sustainable design features such as green roofs, rain gardens, and other innovations aimed at reducing developmental impacts on the environment.
A fascinating component of the site is the Green DC Map, which highlights a variety of environmental points of interest throughout the District. Some of the locations are easy to visit and others require an appointment. The interactive map allows the viewer to query regarding the location of various green sites, including, among many others, farmers' markets, solar energy sites, green buildings, ENERGY STAR® buildings, green roofs, geothermal and wind energy sites, bike share locations, Metro stops, birds and wildlife, boating sites, parks and recreation, and bicycle lanes. A click on the specific icon will provide addresses and other information about the particular site.
This brief summary of DC Green only scratches the surface of the broad and comprehensive green and environmental information that is accessible on the DDOE website. A visit to the website and its various links is a rewarding and information-packed trip.