Thursday, January 21, 2010

Green DC

As many of you know, I have recently made the transition to living in our nation's capital, Washington, DC. (I previously resided here from '05-'06). While I am not yet completely settled, I have to report about all the exciting things that are happening around the city; it's bustling with green activity. I have to give major props to Mayor Adrian Fenty and his DC Green Team, who since late 2007 have really stepped up their game to implement many green initiatives in the DC region. While there are too many to list, here are a few of my favorites:
A nickel for a bag? Starting in January 01, 2010, a District law went into effect that states businesses who sell alcohol or food have to charge 5 cents for every disposable paper or plastic carryout bag that a customer uses. The business keeps 1 cent, and the remaining funds go to the Anacostia River Protection Fund, which will be used solely for the purpose of cleaning and protecting the Anacostia River. Hopefully this extra charge will encourage folks to bring their reusable bags and save the environment in the process!
The District is also offering a program this coming Spring, as a special offer through the RiverSmart Homes Program, where district homeowners can have shade trees planted on their property for only $50! And the only restriction is space limitation! A Casey Tree Representative comes out, determines the best species and location of the shade trees, and then schedules the planting. Not only is this initiative aesthetically beautiful, but shade trees provide many benefits to the natural environment; such as reducing storm and water runoff that affects the health of local streams, improving air quality so we can all breathe in a little bit easier, and creates a habitat for local, furry animals. I love it!
The District also plants an astonishing 4,000 trees each planting season, along public walkways and local parks and streets. Not a bad scenery for those early morning walks.
When Mayor Fenty established his Green Team in 2007, first on his list was the Green Roof Initiative. By the end of 2007, the city had created 12 green gardens on the city buildings, like Judiciary Square, top photo. Fast forward to 2010, and the city currently has an inventory of 75 roofs, each with over 1,000 sqft of green space! How's that for growth?
Not only does the city rank #1 nationwide in terms of walkability, but it also ranks #2 in the nation in heavy rail ridership with over 1Million daily riders on it's metro system! But it seems like they are trying to take over the bike industry as well. The District Dept. of Transporation has partnered up with Clear Channel Outdoor to bring the first self-service bike rental program to the city (called SmartBike DC). With bike stations located in key locations around the city, users get to 'rent' a bike in one location, and drop it off at another destination. The bikes are ergonomic and light-weight in design, and the docking stations utelize all the latest technology, but are still quite user friendly. With options like these, everyone in DC should be sporting short shorts to show off those gams!

I hope that other cities around the country are inspired by the initiatives and changes that are happening here in the nation's capital. It makes me proud to be living here again and contribute to the green industry. With a little community support and acceptance, big changes can be made! Have a great day everyone. xoxo, Laura.

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