In D.C., New Eco-District Plans Unveiled

After two years of internal debate among 17 different federal agencies and the D.C. government, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) released its long-awaited plans for a new Southwest Eco-District designed to undo the worst damage of the massive “urban renewal” projects inflicted on L’Enfant neighborhood over the past decades. Designed to transform the spooky, almost pedestrian-free area just south of the Mall into a highly sustainable, people-friendly cultural and business destination, the Eco-district plan means to take on many challenges at once. As Elizabeth Miller, ASLA, the intrepid landscape architect who is guiding the project, explained, this 110-acre, 15-square block project is meant to showcase “high performance buildings and landscapes” while creating space for 19,000 new federal workers and solving some of the worst pedestrian access problems.

At the beginning of the hearing today, NCPC Chairman L. Preston Bryant, Jr said the project can go a long way to “breathing new life into the city.” While the whole Eco-District may take 20 or 30 years to design and implement, “we have a once in a generation opportunity to make this happen.” He added that NCPC and its many federal partners are eager to move forward because there are some synergies that make the timing right: The Department of Energy (DOE) building is “coming to a lifecycle decision,” meaning that it’s ready to be torn down because it’s now highly inefficient in terms of energy and water use; the Southwest waterfront plans are moving forward, with $2 billion in private sector investment set; and the D.C. government-led Maryland Avenue redevelopment project is on its way.

Miller outlined a vision for an Eco-District that provokes the imagination, at least among sustainable designers. She said the new District will “capture, manage, and reuse water, energy, and waste” and work beyond a single building, leveraging clusters of buildings to create a new system. At the same time, the plan will take aim at the incredible lack of public access — the barriers, the highways, and grade changes — that keep people away, except for the federal workers that have to go there for work.

Diane Sullivan, sustainability planner for NCPC, said a sustainable mixed-use community will arise out of a set of new “guidelines, objectives” that will frame neighborhood development efforts and the creation of new environmental systems.

On developing the neighborhood, Sullivan said that a user survey of D.C. residents found that the lack of amenities was the overwhelming reason why people didn’t want to move down there or even hang out there. So the goal is create a new tree-lined 10th street (or L’Enfant Place) that can connect the Mall to the new Southwest waterfront development while also making that connection itself an exciting cultural destination, lined with 1.2 million square feet in new space for up to 5 new museums, along with farmers’ markets and other draws.

Better pedestrian access is also key to making all this work. In the new plans, Miller said Virginia and Maryland Avenues will re-appear, carving new paths through new buildings as park-like avenues for promenading. Sullivan said the new local street designs cutting up the mega-blocks are still being worked out. She asked, “which streets should be monumental? Which should be local?”

To better get those pedestrians — all those federal workers — to the area, a “better inter-modal system” will be put in place, with a revamped, solar roofed-L’Enfant station, offering both commuter rail and Metro. To ease pressure off Union Station, more commuter rail may be directed there somehow.

The saving grace of the scary L’Enfant Place now is the fountain in Dan Kiley’s Modern-era Benjamin Banneker park, with its dramatic overlook across the Washington Channel. Unfortunately, the rest of Kiley’s park was not well realized. With spaghetti loops of highways cutting through, it’s a matter of taking your life in your own hands to go from the park to the waterfront. In the new plans, Kiley’s park will be completely redone but the area will still serve as a monument to African American surveyor Banneker. The new, more sustainable park will more easily connect to the waterfront while providing a new visual identity for the “eco” part of the district.

Now, on the systems that will make the district more eco: First, many of the old federal buildings will go, getting a revamp so they meet the goals of Obama’s Executive Order 13514, which calls for federal agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy use. The ones that stay, like the famed Brutalist HUD building, will be updated to be more efficient.

Sullivan said the goal is to have “zero-net energy district as measured in carbon.” Pretty near impossible unless fully renewable power is the rule for the new Eco-District. Sullivan said solar PVs and solar thermal systems (for hot water) will be added to the roofs of the new buildings wherever possible, while ground-source heat will also be tapped. A central facility run by GSA, which runs on natural gas, will still be used (but that won’t get them to zero emissions).

Heading down towards the water, the freeway that cuts off the connection between Benjamin Banneker park and the waterfront will be capped with a new layer covered in solar panels.

For water, the goal is to reduce potable water use throughout the Eco-District by 70 percent and manage all stormwater where it falls. All building greywater will be reused while blackwater will go to the new anaerobic plant. Rainwater will be caught by acres of green roofs (including edible ones), green streets, trees, and planters. What isn’t caught will be funneled into cisterns underneath 10th street and used later. Green infrastructure is then clearly a central part of the strategy. Permeable areas overall are to grow to 35 percent, while the tree canopy is to reach 40 percent (a solid target). (Right now, the barren area has just 8 percent tree cover). While we didn’t hear anything substantive about creating a wildlife-friendly landscape designed to attract diverse species, we hope that’s in the works.

There are more ambitious goals for waste reductions: Some 75 percent of construction materials for the new buildings will be reused, and 80 percent of everyday waste will be diverted from the landfill. A composting program will be put in place, too.

So, how will this all actually work? Sullivan sees some government buildings first getting a light rehabilitation and then others will undergo a full rehabilitation. Three federal buildings will be “re-purposed” as major infill development begins. Then, big redevelopment will start over the freeway. At the same time, critical projects like a new Banneker park and a new 10th street landscape will begin next year.

What’s this all going to cost? Miller and Sullivan said an economic feasibility study only provided some high-level numbers, but they did say the federal government would make back its multibillion dollar investment over 20 years through reduced energy, water, and waste fees; increased revenues from private sector developers; and improved local tax gains.

While we hope this project is a sure thing, new governance structures and partnership and financing agreements will need to be worked out among all the partners, including the private sector developers who are key to making this all happen. Let’s hope this is not a protracted process. As the Eco-District gets moving, it can become an innovative showcase for how to revamp government hubs across the U.S.

Learn more about the bold plans. D.C. residents can attend a public hearing on the proposals on July 19. The comment period will be open for three months. Comments will be incorporated into a final plan ready to go by early 2013. By the end of next year, NCPC hopes to have design competitions launched for a new Banneker park and 10th street, its two priority public projects.

Image credit: ZGF Architects, courtesy of NCPC

Making an Ambitious Sustainability Plan a Reality

In the race to be greenest among the more progressive cities in the country, Washington, D.C. is no laggard. According to a recent Economist Intelligence Unit report, the city ranks eighth among all North American cities. Impressive as that is, D.C. still remains far behind top performers like San Francisco and Vancouver so the city government under Mayor Vincent Gray has initiated an ambitious new plan, SustainableDC, with the goal of becoming number one in a generation.

After months of public review sessions and advisory committee meetings (your blogger was involved in the climate change committee), Mayor Vincent Gray is trying to make many good ideas more concrete, turning them into regulations and laws. In a hearing held this week, seven bills were considered by the City Council, while two related to energy efficiency have already passed. Here’s a run-down of what Gray and his able team at the Planning office and District Department of the Environment (DDOE) are hoping move forward now.

Boosting Energy Efficiency:

The “Energy Efficiency Financing Amendment Act of 2012” would increase access to private capital for energy efficiency. The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) pilot program, which is a “$30 million energy retrofit pilot backed by private capital,” would serve as the down payment on a $250 million program. New rules being proposed would enable water and stormwater infrastructure — what we assume to mean green roofs and the strategic use of trees for energy efficiency — to be eligible for PACE financing. This is really smart because as an ASLA animation demonstrates, green roofs and trees can be very effective at reducing energy consumption. The D.C. government says PACE could “inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the District economy each year,” creating tons of green jobs. Those incentives could also make the city greener, literally.

The “Clean and Affordable Energy Benchmarking Amendment Act of 2012” will establish a green building benchmarking program. “This program, one of the first of its type in the nation, requires disclosure of EnergyStar portfolio manager scores for all private buildings over 50,000 square feet.” Rolling out in 2012, the program will require “industry education support, data management, and enforcement” — efforts all geared towards improving D.C.’s already substantial progress on green buildings.

As noted above, the District has already passed two other measures related to energy efficiency. These are the “Low-Income Weatherization Plus Program Amendment Act of 2012,” which provides “essential weatherization services” to low-income District residents, and the “Heating System Repair, Replacement, or Tune-up Program Amendment Act of 2012,” which allows DDOE to restart a “successful program to repair, replace, or tune up heating systems and hot water heaters in low-income households.”

Spurring Renewable Energy Production:

The city seems to realize it needs to get more serious about removing the obstacles limiting renewable energy production, which has taken off elsewhere in the U.S. far faster. The “Renewable Energy Incentive Program Amendment Act of 2012” would allow the DDOE to continue to offer rebates to District businesses and residences that install renewable energy systems.

On the same front, separate from SustainableDC initiatives, the City Council also debated new measures to boost both residential and industrial-scale solar power and co-generation energy and heat plants (mostly geothermal systems) by making regulations clearer and reducing property taxes. The “Energy Innovation and Savings Amendment Act of 2012,” would enable excuse 3rd party vendors — the firms that provide low-cost financing and installation of renewable energy systems — from paying nearly 3.5 percent in property taxes. As Councilwoman Mary Cheh (and interim Chairwoman of the City Council) noted, “this may be needed to become more competitive with Maryland and level the playing field.” By giving up the extra taxes, more renewable energy investment could come, creating more valuable properties and therefore more property taxes. Right now, the District only has a few large-scale solar plants, totalling 5 mega-watts. Two of the biggest plants creating some 900 kilo-watts of power are on the campuses of American and Catholic universities.

Promoting Electric Vehicles: 

In the hearing we attended, we also heard how the City Council is considering bills that would give electric vehicles a fighting chance in the District, which is great news. So few cities have incentivized the development of electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure — the charging stations — really needed to make EVs a reality. NRG Energy’s EV-Go system, which is a subscription model that “reduces up-front costs,” could be a good fit for the District. The city seems to be responsive to that firm’s interest in rolling out charging stations and serious about removing any regulatory obstacles that could limit the range of sites.

Still, Cheh asked pointed questions about EV demand, the cost of these charging stations, and the fees each EV owner would need to pay to use the stations. The NRG representative said that “these stations would cost a fraction of the price of gasoline, about less than half.” To tap the “regional ecosystem,” the stations would be put along key routes for commuters, taking up spaces in shopping malls (“retail hosts”) and parking spaces along streets. Exciting stuff.

Protecting the Rivers:

Another bill would tax-exempt RiverSmart programs aimed at the conservation and protection of natural resources, which in turn protect the rivers. The city says residents need clarity on the “rebates, grants, subsidies, in-kind services, and other such incentives.”

A related program, the “Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fertilizer Amendment Act of 2012,” would specifically take aim at the fertilizers used by homeowners and businesses that dirty the District’s waterways, “accelerating the growth of algae and damaging aquatic ecosystems, fisheries, and water quality.” DDOE explains: “Algal blooms have a strong negative impact on fisheries, degrade fishing and boating activities, and harm tourism and property values. Controlling fertilizer use in general — and especially by reducing phosphorous and nitrogen use in fertilizers — will greatly aid the District to meet federal Clean Water Act requirements.” We have to see the details — for instance, will fertilizer use will actually be restricted? — but this may be long overdue considering the Anacostia still ranks as one of the filthiest waterways in the U.S.

Helping the Bees and Promoting Urban Agriculture:

Bees are in trouble so the District seems to be moving on this critical issue. In the “Sustainable Urban Agriculture Apiculture Act of 2012,” homeowners will now be allowed to legally raise honeyebees, which play a symbiotic role in home gardens and help produce fruit and vegetables in the District. All that wax and honey could help fuel the growth of new local industries, too.

Reducing Toxic Exposure Among Kids:

Lastly, the “Child-occupied Facility Healthy Air Amendment Act of 2012” says that “child-occupied facilities and dry-cleaning facilities that use perchloroethlyene or n-propyl bromide as a cleaning agent for clothes or other fabrics” can’t be in the same place. “The prohibition would extend through 2029, when perchloroethlyene will be outlawed in the District. The bill requires that owners of dry-cleaning facilities be educated about the dangers of perchloroethylene and n-propyl bromide, about their proper handling, and about less-toxic alternatives. The bill was drafted in response to an incident of serious PERC contamination next door to a District daycare center.”

Even if all of these measures pass the Council, D.C. will need to do much more to be number one. Hopefully this is just a good start.

Explore D.C.’s Sustainability vision and the legislative proposals before the council.

Also, check out an interesting article in The Architect’s Newspaper on recent urban planning innovations in D.C., like the Southwest eco-district.

Image credit: Rooftop Solar Installation / Eco-friend

With Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Aims to Become the “Botanical Capital of the World”

Singapore’s national flower is the orchid. So UK-based team Grant Associates, a landscape architecture firm, and Wilkinson Eyre, an architecture firm, decided to use the structure of this epiphytic plant to model their new $545 million, 54-hectare Gardens by the Bay project in that city-state’s Marina South Gardens, which is just the first piece of a much bigger project (two more gigantic garden parks are coming). The design team explains: “First, the garden takes root on a piece of new garden infrastructure and grows out towards the city. Leaves (earthworks) and roots (water, energy, communication systems) and shoots (paths, roads and links) create an integrated network across the space and beautiful flowers (feature/theme gardens) occur at key intersections or nodes.”

With this massive project, which was built on reclaimed, restored land, wealthy Singapore aims to become the “botanical capital of the world.” There are many elements (almost too many to go through), which include more than 225,000 plants. Just a few are new theme gardens that “showcase the best of tropical horticulture and garden artistry.” Within these gardens, there are multiple horticultural collections, including the “Heritage Gardens” and “World of Plants.”  

In the Heritage Gardens, there’s a range of garden collections that reflect the unique cultures that make up diverse Singapore, along with the city-state’s colonial heritage (It was a British base for many years). A new Malay Garden “tells the story of life in a traditional ‘kampong’ (village),” while the Indian Garden’s layout “echoes a traditional illustrated flower motif.” The Chinese Garden illustrates the role of gardens as places of “inspiration for writers, poets, and artists” — places of tranquility — in Chinese culture. The Colonial Garden tells the story of plants as “Engines of Empire,” featuring the many spices and other crops that served as a foundation for regional, British-controlled trade. 

The “World of Plants” Garden then showcases the rich plant biodiversity of Southeast Asia. There are gardens dedicated to ancient plants, fruits and flowers, trees, tropical palms, and the understory, which looks at the “forest root zone,” the plant species that make up the forest floor.

Perhaps the iconic element of the new super-park are the 18 “supertrees,” ranging from 25-50 meters high, which Grant Associates describe as a “fusion of nature, art, and technology.” These multifunctional engineered structures act like, well, trees, except they also create power for the park and light up at night. According to the design team, “they are at one level spectacular vertical gardens and landmark features, at another they are the environmental engines for the cooled conservatories, incorporating devices for water harvesting and storage, air intake, cooling and exhaust, photovoltaic arrays, and solar collectors.” 

During the daytime, the trees provide shelter and shade, like any tree. But at night, says Grant Associates, the trees “come alive with lighting and projected media that activate the city skyline.”  Built into the supertree line is a 128-meter aerial walkway. The biggest supertree has a bar, offering a treetop view to go with your cocktails. Grant Associates seem to say that they needed to get large trees up fast and couldn’t wait for real ones to grow: “Given the relatively short time span to create a garden from reclaimed land, the Supertrees provide an immediate scale and dimension to the Gardens while marrying the form and function of mature trees.” 

Working together with the outdoor gardens and supertrees are “cooled conservatories” that use “sustainable energy sources” (from the supertrees) to create new micro-climates indoors. “The Flower Dome replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean and semi-arid sub-tropical regions such as South Africa and parts of Europe like Spain and Italy. The Cloud Forest Dome replicates the cool-moist climate found in tropical montane regions between 1,000 to 3,500 metres above sea level, such as Mt Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, and high elevation areas in South America.” The Cloud Forest alone has some 130,000 plants.

Sounds like a lot of energy and air conditioning for those cooled conservatories. But Grant Associates argues that the “suite of technologies used” actually means about 30 percent energy savings on a conventional (if there is one?) climate-controlled conservatory. The design team used “spectrally selective glass and light sensor-operated shadings” to reduce solar heat gain and maximize sun exposure for the plants. There are more complex systems like “thermal stratification, an efficient de-humidification cooling process, and a Combined Heat Power (CHP) biomass steam turbine” to control the indoor climate and create electricity. 

As a final note, the signage by Thomas Mathews graphic design is really fun. The design team used the colors of the local Mangosteen fruit as the palette, with a dark purple as the unifying color.  

We would have liked to hear more from Grant Associates about how they will harvest Singapore’s heavy rainfall to water the garden year round. Will there be cisterns to store some of that water for drier periods? Also, there is little info about the biodiversity benefits they are expecting, beyond the plants. What kind of insects and birds can be supported by the new park?

Still, the gardens are expected to be a huge tourist draw. The Wall Street Journal writes that tickets will be $28 Singapore dolllars for tourists and $20 for locals. Restaurants, bands, bars will also help draw people in late into the night.

Image credits: (1) Grant Associates (2) Chinese Garden / Craig Sheppard Photography, (3-4) Supertrees / Robert Such Photography, (5-6) Cooled Conservatory / Craig Sheppard Photography, (7) Branding design / Thomas Mathews, (8) Signage / Craig Sheppard Photography

Can the U.S. Become Like Denmark?

The U.S. isn’t going to become like Denmark, which relies on wind power for 22 percent of its energy needs, anytime soon. In that sustainable northern European country, sometimes the total share of wind power even jumps up to 60-70 percent during really windy periods, said Willet Kempton, Professor, Center for Carbon-free Power Integration, University of Delaware, at a green energy forum organized by The Atlantic magazine. After nearly $100 billion in investment over the past few decades, wind power is still just nearing 4 percent of the total U.S. energy system and won’t get up to Denmark’s levels without a dramatic shift in how energy is created and distributed, added Michael O’Sullivan NextEra Energy Resources’ Senior Vice President. NextEra, one of the world’s largest solar and wind energy providers, has alone invested some $20 billion in U.S. wind power to date.

According to Martin Klepper, co-head of the energy and infrastructure projects group at law firm Skadden Arps, federal financing, which has totaled $20 billion, has also helped bring the cost of solar and wind power down. Solar is down from $4 a watt to around $1. There are similar trends for wind.

Just a few states really offer the opportunity for “utility-scale” wind power. The same goes for solar power. That’s because there are only a few states with enough wind and sun to justify the expense of rolling out the expensive transmission lines and systems that can store power when there’s no wind blowing or sun shining.

The price trends are positive so the share of renewables is slowly growing though. The U.S. is now in the process of installing some of the largest solar, solar thermal, and wind power installations anywhere in the world. However, China may be eating the U.S.’s lunch given the rapid way they are scaling up.

O’Sullivan didn’t seem scared by China’s great progress though. He said some 25-30 percent of the enormous wind capacity China has built isn’t “connected to the grid. It’s wind to nowhere.” While China is adding 50-100 mega watts each year, the U.S. has a more “mature regulatory environment.” Comparing China to the Wild Wild West, the U.S. 75 years ago, O’Sullivan said “there’s a simpler regulatory regime there.” Klepper said it’s amazing but in one day a new power plant can receive land, water, air permits and financing, whereas in the U.S. that process can take anywhere from 2-5 years and involve lots of risk. A number of those proposals fail to win approval, meaning all those consulting fees go down to the toilet.

Perhaps the main stumbling block to turning the U.S. into Denmark is the lack of a national smart grid and any hope of one in the near term. A national smart grid could help transmit wind power collected in the central great plain states (the windy core of the country) and quickly move it to other parts of the states. O’Sullivan said the policy and regulatory landscape among the 48 lower states is so different that there are almost “48 different countries.” Within that mess of regulations, there are some 500 utilities that “own some piece of the grid.” As a result, infrastructure investment has to be done state by state or maybe regionally. “The technology is the easy part. It can decades to permit infrastructure. This isn’t like the interstate system.” The policy and regulatory differences between states and lack of cross-border coordination are slowing the U.S. down in a big way.  

While the U.S. federal government and utilities have invested in research and development, it’s a fairly small number: a few billion. O’Sullivan said private equity and capital — see the energy entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley — are really driving the industry. They saw a “positive price signal from the federal government” and have gone for it.

What do all these firms now still need to boost wind production? Certainty that policies won’t change in the future so they can get busy building out these long-range projects. Klepper says the industry needs a federal renewable energy standard (see earlier post) and measures to reduce the cost of financing. Kempton would like policymakers to internalize the “externalities” in energy production, all the health and environmental costs that the public now covers. If the true cost of those were included in the price of energy, the story goes that the true benefits of wind and solar power will become clearer and the cost of these energy sources will be cheaper than dirty coal and oil.

Check out a map of American wind resources and explore the state of wind power generation in the U.S. In the midwest at least, farmers and communities could even benefit from wind farms.

Earlier in the day: Given much of Washington, D.C. now considers natural gas a clean energy, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, a former geologist and fan of “clean coal,” made a multi-pronged defense of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” to improve extraction. Saying he’s been doing fracking projects since the early 1980s, he believes these projects can be safe and he knows very few instances where fracking has led to groundwater contamination or earthquakes. Still, earthquakes are “possible” if the fluids cause earth plates to slide. He said that “like any industrial process, it can be done well or sloppily.” To be sure damage doesn’t occur, Colorado has doubled its fines for any damage to the groundwater. “We have a zero tolerance” policy on water pollution. Gas is clearly big business in Colorado.

Image credit: Wind farm mixed in with a real farm in Kansas / Grit

D.C. Offers a Bold Vision for a More Sustainable Future

At a historic church in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray said there are either two future directions for the city: “The gaps between us could further divide our city,” or the city could become “greener, more equitable, and more prosperous” for all. Outlining a bold vision for a Sustainable D.C., Gray said he wanted the city to not only be the greenest in the U.S. but among all world cities. D.C. is currently ranked 8th in a recent ranking of North American cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit so the city has quite a ways to go to get to number one in this continent, let alone the world. In the near term, can D.C. beat New York City, Vancouver, or San Francisco? That’s a stretch and only possible with deep collaboration with the non-profit and private sectors.

Gray is giving the city one generation — 20 years — to accomplish his ambitious objectives, which weave in health, economic, employment, and environmental goals. The idea is that D.C. will not only become greenest but healthiest, with the most number of green jobs. On top of this, Gray wants to continue to grow the city’s population in a big way. Gray said “sustainability will need to be a continual process.”

In terms of carbon dioxide, the city wants to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2032. In presenting the goals, Christopher Tuluo, head of D.C.’s Environment Department, said “climate change is happening. If someone says it isn’t, they are flat out wrong.” A key part of achieving this goal will be reaching objectives on energy use and efficiency. The city seeks to cut district-wide energy use by 50 percent while increasing renewable energy use to 50 percent. Given some 75 percent of emissions come from buildings, the District will push for adaptive re-use of old buildings so they can become greener. The idea is to maintain and improve the current building stock and increase the number of LEED buildings (the city is already number one for that metric). Another way to fight the effect of climate change: strengthening D.C.’s already considerable urban forest, which stores much of the city’s carbon, reaching a 40 percent tree canopy by 2032. Here Tuluo added that “trees are important when it’s 100 degrees out because of climate change.”

Investing in more sustainable transportation systems is also key to both reducing transportation-related emissions and adapting to a carbon-constrained world. The district seeks to make 75 percent of all trips walking, biking, or transit in 20 years. Harriet Tregoning, D.C.’s planning director, said “this is a stretch goal but these trips already make up 50 percent of all trips right now.” She discussed how more young people may be moving to D.C. because the city’s transportation system is so affordable. This younger generation is so in debt with college loans they can’t afford cars. In fact, just 60 percent of D.C. residents own cars and that number is falling.

Sustainability means improving D.C.’s waterways, which are amongst the most polluted in the country. Gray wants 100 percent of District waterways to be fishable and swimmable, and 75 percent of D.C.’s green space to be used as green infrastructure that captures and filters rainwater for reuse. Tuluo wants the city to become much “spongier.” He wants the city to become “a much more natural place — not just for the environmental benefits. We want return on investment” in terms of stormwater management benefits.

The process for dealing with waste, which the Economist Intelligence Unit report said was among D.C. weak points, will need to be totally transformed if the city is going to reach zero waste in 20 years. Tuluo asked, “is zero waste a pipe dream?” Perhaps not. Organic waste is already turned into compost as a matter of practice in San Francisco, one of the best cities at dealing with waste. He sees D.C. residents “becoming urban farmers,” using their compost daily, and other waste consumed by digesters that turn other garbage into energy.

The front end of the reuse chain is local food production, which will also need to ramped up if the 75 percent of all food is to be grown within a quarter-mile of the population eating it. Tregoning argued that “it used to be really difficult to find a supermarket in the District.” While that has changed, improving the availability of local produce will be sped along by a network of food-productive roofs. She wants one million square feet of these vegetated roofs in place funneling produce to local shops and co-ops. (According to Gray, the city is already number-one in terms of green roofs so this may be possible). Getting local produce to D.C. residents seems to be a key focus. Health must be at the top of a sustainability agenda in a city where 22 percent of the population is obese. Gray wants to cut that rate in half in 20 years. 

D.C.’s plan won’t work without more equitable economic and employment growth. Right now, the unemployment rates in the city differ dramatically from ward to ward. In Ward 3, it’s as low as 2 percent, while in poorer parts of the city, like Ward 8, it’s 24 percent, among the highest in the country. Gray wants to boost the number of green jobs by five times — providing opportunities at all levels, from the PhDs experimenting with biofuels to the landscape architects designing parks, from the green roof installers to the maintenance crews keeping green infrastructure and waste reuse systems working.

Explore the plan. There are a few short, medium, and long-term actions listed. As Tregoning said, “the vision is a painting of what’s possible in the District.” A design and implementation strategy with hundreds of actions comes next. To see some actions that should be considered, explore ASLA’s 30-page set of recommendations: Becoming Greenest. One big focus of ASLA’s report was the need for a climate adaptation plan. If local species in D.C.’s great urban forest were to die off due to higher temperatures, none of the other goals related to water, air quality, or health will be possible.

Image credit: City Center, Washington, D.C. / SWF Institute

A New Life for an Industrial Landscape in California

California’s Burbank Water and Power (BWP), one of the first power companies in the U.S. to procure a major chunk of its power from renewable energy sources and develop an ambitious carbon reduction plan, is transforming its main campus from an “industrial relic” into a “regenerative green space,” bringing the utility to the forefront of sustainable landscape design. The new landscape is among the 150 sites selected around the country to participate in the Sustainable Site Initiative™ (SITES®) pilot program. Los Angeles-based landscape architecture firm AHBE Landscape Architects was hired by BWP to create an ambitious “EcoCampus.”

Already, the new campus has three of the 50 LEED Platinum buildings found in California, including its first super-sustainable warehouse. Beyond the buildings, though, the campus offers green roofs, which were designed to “reduce the urban heat island effect, help channel and filter storm water, and reduce the building’s air conditioning requirements;” water reclamation and filtration systems, and new employee green spaces carved out of a reclaimed substation.

The green roofs were installed across three buildings in the BWP campus. According to the utility, “the timing was perfect as our aging roof needed to be replaced.” Adding green roofs also saved the company, which is promoting energy conservation as a key cost savings measure, a bit of money themselves, some $14,000 annually.

AHBE Landscape Architects designed a number of filtration and stormwater capture systems that compliment each other. Green streets with permeable pavers and “infiltration bump outs” along three city streets filter runoff before it enters the campus’ stormwater system, where it’s then captured by the built planters and trees set within silva cells, which enable the trees to grow taller. Roof runoff is filtered down to the landscape, where it’s used up by the greenery. “By California law, all projects are required to mitigate at least the first ¾ inches of rainfall. Thanks to the innovative technologies that AHBE has integrated into the design, the BWP EcoCampus already mitigates the first inch.” The end goal is zero runoff on site.

A substation structure was left in place, providing a repurposed outdoor meeting room. “The skeletal remains of the substation will soon be covered in living vines, creating a poignant juxtaposition of industry and environment.”

Calvin Abe, FASLA, President, of AHBE, made the case for transforming the utility’s industrial landscape into a productive one: “Landscape has a key role to play in the regeneration of our cities. Beyond the aesthetics, it can proactively counteract many of the problems that we face in urban environments.”

But their job was made a lot easier because their client’s vision is a bold one. Ron Davis, BWP General Manager, said: “BWP chose to do this to show that sustainability is not just about a single action or decision; it’s about the ripple effect that consistent, sustainable decisions can make. BWP’s EcoCampus is literally powered by innovation. We want this to cause a ripple.”

Watch a video about the BWP’s new campus.

Image credits: © Sibylle Allgaier, Heliphoto

Power Freshkills Park with Art

In partnership with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, the 2012 Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) ideas competition asks landscape architects, architects, planners, artists, and engineers to submit proposals for a 100-acre “pragmatic art installation” in Freshkills Park, Staten Island, New York City that can generate power from renewable energy sources.

According to Freshkills Park, the park will total 2,200 acres when completed, making it almost three times the size of Central Park. In an amazing transformation of what was formerly the world’s largest landfill, a decrepit garbage dump of a landscape may become a “symbol of renewal and an expression of how our society can restore balance.” Designed by James Corner Field Operations, the park will provide hundreds of acres of recreational opportunities. A full-scale ecological restoration by ecologist Steven Handel is also underway, which will underpin the environmental education programs.

LAGI’s idea competition, like the one held in 2010 in Abu Dhabi, is designed to unleash wildly creative thinking about how renewable energy can be made beautiful. The idea this year is to design a public artwork for Freshkills that will not only have “conceptual beauty” but can also harness energy from nature and convert it into electricity. The group’s organizers emphasize that they don’t want a timid public art work, but instead seek to leverage the “expansiveness” of Freshkills to create a massive 100-acre art project that can power thousands of nearby homes from Freshkills’ East or North parks. 

Specifically, entries must include a “three-dimensional sculptural form” that can inspire visitors to think deeply about “broad ideas as ecological systems, human habitation and development, energy and resource generation and consumption,” but can also sit within the historical and ecological context of the site. The artwork must capture energy from nature (in the form of wind, solar or solar thermal, or another renewable energy mechanism), convert it into electricity, and be capable to transmitting energy via a power grid connection point. “Consideration should be made for artfully housing the required transformer and electrical equipment within the project boundary.”

Entries cannot have negative environmental impacts on the park or release greenhouse gas emissions. Each submittal must then include a brief environmental impact assessment. Given the park rests on top of a landfill cap, the designers will also need to discuss how the project will fit in with those carefully engineered systems. “The cap shall not be penetrated in any manner for any reason.” 

Furthermore, LAGI asks teams to use scalable and tested technologies. “It is recommended that the design team make an effort to engage the manufacturers of existing technology in preliminary dialogue as a part of their own research and development of the design entry.”

Submit your concepts before July 1, 2012. The jury considering the entries includes top designers like James Corner, ASLA, and Bjarke Ingels, as well as senior officials from Staten Island, the NYC Departments of Sanitation and Parks & Recreation, the NYC Public Art Commission, and U.S. Department of Energy.

Winners will take home $20,000 in award money. LAGI writes that the award will not guarantee a construction commission, but the “most pragmatic and aesthetic” designs will be promoted to local NYC stakeholders. Separately, a competition for high school students interested in how to power NYC with art will be open at the same time, with $1,000 up for grabs.

Image credit: Freshkills Park, North Park / NYC Department of Parks & Recreation

Best Books of 2011

Last year, we only have five top books (see earlier post), but this year we’ve expanded the list. A range of great books came past our desk and any of these may be of interest to your favorite landscape architect. Here are the top ten books of 2011, along with five other notable books:

Landscapes in Landscapes by Piet Oudolf (Monacelli Press, 2011)
In his complex, endlessly interesting landscapes, Oudolf says he prizes form and texture as much as color. He almost exclusively uses perennials, which he values for their “beauty throughout their natural life cycle.” Requiring little maintenance, his naturally sustainable landscapes, which feature drought-resistant plants, evolve over time. As Charles Waldheim, chair of the landscape architecture department at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), wrote in The New York Times, “he’s gotten away from the soft pornography of the flower. He’s interested in the life cycle, how plant material ages over the course of a year.” Read the full review.

The Altered Landscape: Photographs of a Changing Environment by Ann M. Wolfe (Editor) (Skira Rizzoli, 2011) 
From the book: “This comprehensive look at the work of 100 contemporary photographers captures the impact of human activity on natural landscapes. The Altered Landscape is a provocative collection of photographs representing a wide range of artists, techniques, visual styles, subjects, and ideological positions. Organized chronologically, the more than 150 images-by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Chris Jordan, Catherine Opie, and Edward Burtynsky-reveal the ways that individuals and industries have marked, mined, toured, tested, developed, occupied, and exploited landscapes over the last fifty years.”

Field Notes from Science and Nature by Michael R. Canfield  (Editor), Edward O. Wilson (Foreword) (Harvard University Press, 2011)
The Los Angeles Times writes: “This gorgeous book reproduces samples from the notebooks of 12 naturalists in all their glory, accompanied by short essays on methodology and why field notes are still so critical to the art of science. These drawings, notes (in spectacular handwriting), photos, and maps are a reminder that natural history is the root of all biology, and observation is a critical skill. George Schaller’s drawings of a lion hunt in the Serengeti, Bernd Heinrich’s delicate drawings of leaves, Kenn Kaufman’s lists, Jonathan Kingdon’s drawings of acacia trees in Kenya, Jenny Keller’s spectacular drawings of moon jellies–these and others make science look not only appealing, fascinating and fun but human and creative as well.

Genius of Life: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted by Justin Martin (Da Capo Press, 2011)
Genius of Place: the Life of Frederick Law Olmsted, a new biography by Justin Martin, illuminates Olmsted’s major achievements as a visionary artist, social reformer, pioneering environmentalist, and founder of the modern profession of landscape architecture. Olmsted is best known for creating several noteworthy landscapes, including New York City’s Central Park. Martin, a journalist who has written two acclaimed biographies on Alan Greenspan and Ralph Nader, paints a portrait of Olmsted as a preeminent American figure, revealing that “as a park maker, environmentalist, and abolitionist, Olmsted helped shape modern America.” Read the full review.

High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky by Joshua David and Robert Hammond (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2011)
The New York Times writes: “This lushly illustrated volume showcases the range of imaginative designs [Joshua David and Robert Hammond] explored and, in some cases, rejected. In recounting their decade-long experiment, they provide an inspiring primer for grass-roots urban planning.” Paul Goldberger at The New Yorker writes: “In this book Robert Hammond and Joshua David, who led the grass-roots movement to rescue the High Line from demolition, tell with energy, passion, and refreshing candor the story of how this industrial artifact became, against all odds, a magnificent park.” 

Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Health, Well-being, and Sustainability by Andrew Dannenberg (Editor), Howard Frumkin (Editor), and Richard Jackson (Editor) (Island Press, 2011)
Dr. Richard Jackson (see earlier post) and Dr. Howard Frumkin (see earlier post) have been long-time advocates of marrying public health and design. In this book, they offer a how-to that is essential reading for all landscape architects. “The authors have crafted an exemplary look at the various components of community design that promote and support health. Through their perspective we see clearly how much community design matters to our health and well-being; and it matters a lot.” – Georges C. Benjamin, MD, Executive Director, American Public Health Association. Read the full review.

MAPS by Paula Scher (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011)
Map making is not just about creating visual representations of physical spaces, but can also be about documenting impressions and emotions. Paula Scher, a partner at Pentagram and one of the most influential graphic designers of her generation, has a new book that conveys the rich, complex feelings she has for the process of map making itself. As she writes in the introduction, “I began painting maps to invent my own complicated narrative about the way I see and feel about the world. I wanted to list what I know about a place from memory, from impressions, from media, and from general information overload. They are paintings of distortions.” Read the full review.

The New American Landscape: Leading Voices on the Future of Sustainable Gardening by Thomas Christopher (Editor) (Timber Press, 2011)
Instead of exacerbating environmental issues, gardeners must harness the many ecosystem services provided by natural systems and design gardens that support and strengthen local ecologies. This how-to guide clearly demonstrates how gardeners’ sustainable practices can positively shape our shared enviroment. Read the full review.

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward L. Glaeser (Penguin Press, 2011)
“Edward Glaeser is one of the world’s most brilliant economists, and Triumph of the City is a masterpiece. Seamlessly combining economics and history, he explains why cities are ‘our species’ greatest invention.’ This beautifully written book makes clear how cities have not only survived but thrived, even as modern technology has seemingly made one’s physical location less important.” – Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics, professor of economics at the University of Chicago.

The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World by Carl Safina (Henry Holt & Co, 2011)
From the Booklist review: “From his home base, this celebrated scientist and activist travels to places where the impact of climate change and environmental abuse is starkly evident. With the spiral of a year as his structure and with what Einstein termed the ‘circle of compassion’ as his moral compass, MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow Safina illuminates the wondrous intricacy and interconnectedness of life in a book of beautifully modulated patterns and gracefully stated imperatives.”

Other notable books in 2011:

The Agile City: Building Well-being and Wealth in an Era in Climate Change by James Russell (Island Press, 2011) Read full review.
Gateway: Visions for an Urban National Park
by Alexander Brash (editor), Jaime Hand (editor), Kate Orff (editor) (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011) Read full review.
Pulled: A Catalog of Screen Printing by Mike Perry (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011) Read full review.
Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America’s Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-carbon World by Catherine Tumber (The MIT Press)
Urban Green: Architecture for the Future by Neil Chambers (Palgrave MacMillan, 2011) Read an interview.

In addition, check out a few other best book lists: Planetizen offers their top 10 planning books for 2011. The University of Cambridge compiled a list of the top 50 books on sustainability.

Lastly, these “painstakingly hand-printed” t-shirts of some great U.S. cities by City Fabric aren’t books but they make great presents.

Image credit: Montacelli Press

The U.S. Needs a National Renewable Energy Standard

At The Atlantic Magazine‘s Green Intelligence forum, which has become an annual event in Washington, D.C., Carol Browner, who was very recently climate change “czarina” at the White House and once head of the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.); Jim Connaughton, Constellation Energy, and former head of the Council for Environmental Quality under President George W. Bush; David Hawkins, Natural Resources Defense Council; and Dave McCurdy, American Gas Association, all emphasized the need for a national renewable energy standard given no big climate change and energy legislation will be coming out of Congress in the next 18 months to 2 years. A new national standard, many said, could also help achieve many of the goals of the failed 2010 climate change and energy legislation. As Senator Amy Klobuchar noted in an earlier speech that day, Minnesota’s “aggressive” renewable energy standard (25 percent renewable energy by 2025) had led to skyrocketing growth in wind, solar, and biofuels in her state.

No Big Climate Change Legislation Coming Soon

Asked by Ed Luce, The Financial Times, how the debate in Washington could get steered back to climate change, the panelists punted a bit. Browner said “we could pass legislation, but not large legislation anytime soon.” She said there’s a set of tools available to the administration, including new rules and standards, which are now being used to ensure cars hit 54 mpg by 2015. Browner noted that 65 percent of total emissions in the U.S. can be dealt with through existing laws, regulations, and administrative tools.

For Connaughton, who is said to be Mitt Romney’s choice as the head of the E.P.A., there are already “six different types of regulatory programs” in the U.S., including the mandatory cap and trade program approved in California. Also, at the Federal level, the House and the most recent administrations, through their many attempts to pass major climate change legislation, have already laid an important “foundation.” This solid base has led to “10 billion tons in carbon reductions.” He said the foundation is now in place for moving many smaller pieces of legislation, like a national renewable energy standard, that would help with the climate.

NRDC’s David Hawkins thought the big climate change legislative failure in 2010 was due to the economy, the slogan that got associated with climate change – it’s “a jobs-killing energy tax,” and the growing belief that “this is not a problem that needs to be addressed.” He thinks these issues are just a “dam and not a permanent fixture in the U.S. political economy,” meaning all these obstacles can be overcome.   

According to Dave McCurdy, American Gas Association, which has been promoting fuel efficiency, there are “more opportunities on efficiency,” including fuel economy standards. He wants smarter incentives that can push firms to work with state governments and environmental groups, and said there needs to be a stronger emphasis on state action.

What Does Solyndra’s Failure Mean?

Will the failure of Solyndra, a major U.S. solar panel producer, which received nearly half a billion in recovery funds, do permanent damage to the case for investing in clean energy in the U.S.?, asked Luce. Browner said the U.S. has been making investments in energy and technology for more than 100 years, including long-term investments in the oil industry and nuclear power. “If we want a different future, we need to use the appropriate incentives.” She added that 100 years of pro-oil tax policies “have been enough.” Incentives, in the form of a national renewable energy standard, could lead to “huge investments” in cleaner energy. Connaughton basically argued that Solyndra was an “unfortunate, sad lesson” but it doesn’t change the overall program of government investment in clean energy.

For Hawkins, the government played its role. “Governments don’t give loan guarantees to companies that have no risk. If there was less risk, the private sector would do it.” He said Solyndra, which set its business model on rising prices for solar panels, was the “victim of progress in the solar industry.” Prices came down dramatically, which is good for the solar industry and consumers, but “bad for them.” McCurdy thought it was the “dynamic of the stimulus funds,” which had to “push lots of money out the door fast.” The result: some projects “fail, spectacularly.”

What Can Happen in the Near Term?

Connaughton says Congress was already questioning the value of big investments in clean energy before Solyndra failed. He wants mandates that are “performance-based,” meaning incentives that can enable the market’s competitive forces to do their stuff.

“Waxman-Markey (the 2010 comprehensive climate change and energy legislation) got too big, there were too many add-ons.” Interestingly, he added that cap and trade was “originally a Republican idea,” but in this instance got swamped by excessive add-ons so the legislation lost its shape. He sees “phased-in standards” organized by sector as the way to go, then a process of “national simplication” to align the sector standards into a bigger picture.

He used a range of examples to show how “market structures have had impact on energy efficiency.” Browner seemed to agree in part, but added that what’s really key is “incentives, investments, and creating demand so the private sector can make the changes needed. ”

Hawkins reminded everyone that some Republicans are set on limiting the powers of the E.P.A. to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. “We can’t dismantle these tools that exist” while hoping to make progress through standards and other approaches.

Interestingly, none of the panelists mentioned two of the most important recent stories that should figure in this conversation. The world’s population recently hit 7 billion, which means a complete “rethink of climate approaches” is needed, says National Geographic. According to its Newswatch site, climate change, population, and food production are all deeply linked: “Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University, famous for his book The Population Bomb, said people will have trouble feeding themselves as climate change worsens. But it’s a catch-22, he said, because we need to expand agriculture, but as it’s practiced today, it is also one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.”

Also, according to The Guardian, World Energy Outlook 2011, a recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report, was very negative on the prospect of the global energy system changing enough to effectively combat climate change. The report said that “the world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be ‘lost for ever.'”

Image credit: Biomass power plant, Cadillac, Michigan / We Are Michigan

Becoming Greenest: Recommendations for a More Sustainable Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. leadership has requested input from a range of organizations as it develops a new “unified vision” and “comprehensive framework” for a more sustainable Washington, D.C. The end goal: to connect sustainability with economic development and become the number-one, most sustainable city in North America. Washington, D.C. is currently ranked eighth in a recent Economist Intelligence Unit report sponsored by Siemens.

As part of this process, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) polled members from its Potomac, Northern Virginia, and Southern Maryland chapters and incorporated their input into a set of bold recommendations in the priority areas identified by the city government. Because the categories of recommendations will be evaluated by different D.C. agencies, recommendations are repeated when appropriate and relevant. Among them:

Energy: Reuse brownfields as solar energy farms. Through revised building codes and local tax incentives, expand use of smart tree placement and green roofs and walls. Reduce building energy use through green infrastructure. Incentivize the use of rooftop solar panels. Read research and recommendations >

Climate Change / Mitigation: Reduce total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by expanding urban park land, further improving bike and pedestrian infrastructure, incentivizing the growth in the number of bicycle and pedestrian commuters, creating highly walkable pedestrian-only areas, and introducing new innovative forms of public space such as parklets and underpass parks. Read research and recommendations >

Climate Change / Adaptation: Increase coverage of street trees for shade and expand use of green and cool (white) roofs in order to adapt to higher average temperatures along with more varied temperature fluctuations within the District. Improve building and landscape water efficiency measures. Develop resiliency plans for Washington, D.C.’s plant and animal life within parks and green spaces, including the introduction of wildlife migration corridors and heat and drought-tolerant plants. Read research and recommendations >

Water: Develop a comprehensive green infrastructure plan that leverages existing grey infrastructure. Use Sustainable Site Initiative™ (SITES™) guidelines to improve water efficiency measures, require the use of appropriate plant species in public and residential landscapes, and enable rainwater capture and filtered or treated greywater (and even blackwater) reuse for landscape irrigation. For stormwater management, require the use of green roofs for new buildings exceeding a minimum size. In addition, approve the use of rainwater cisterns for irrigation of green roofs and other green infrastructure. Improve the permeability of the District’s park surfaces and their ability to capture and store water. Create multi-use infrastructure, or rain gardens or bio-retention systems in District parks, turning them into green infrastructure and water treatment systems. Increase the use of bioswales near transportation systems, and add in permanent green street corridors and green alleys. Continue to expand urban tree canopy and preserve larger trees to manage stormwater runoff. Spread use of tree boxes and permeable pavements for stormwater capture. As part of a public education campaign, parks and public green space should follow the highest water efficiency standards. Read research and recommendations >

Transportation: Expand bike and pedestrian infrastructure. Create safe bicycle infrastructure. Connect the Metro system with bike infrastructure and bikeshare stations. Require secure bike parking within office and residential buildings. Incentivize the growth in the number of bicycle and pedestrian commuters. Create highly walkable pedestrian-only areas, and introduce new innovative forms of public space such as parklets and underpass parks. Read research and recommendations >

Waste: Set clear, ambitious targets and deadlines for achieving zero waste in the District and measure progress against targets. Ensure all building materials are reused in new buildings (if the materials are non-hazardous). Use Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES®) guidelines for park maintenance and eliminate grounds waste generated from Washington, D.C., parks through composting. Read research and recommendations >

Built Environment: Invest in turning more brownfields into parks. Apply bio-remediation and other safe environmental remediation technologies during park development. Develop an Internet-accessible inventory of all brownfields in the city to enable easier remediation and redevelopment of derelict sites by local developers. Create a certification program for remediated brownfields to facilitate faster reuse. Invest in retrofitting older school buildings to make them LEED Platinum and also integrate green school redesign activities into school curricula. Ensure all schools apply Safe Routes to Schools design guidelines. Read research and recommendations >

Nature: Develop a biodiversity and environmental education action plan based on the concept of biophilia. Recreate wetlands along riverfront edges and reintroduce native wildlife. Reduce the mortality rate of trees and extend their lifespan by enabling them to grow in larger tree pits with structural soils and under permeable pavements. Use appropriate trees grown locally for urban forestry campaigns. Experiment with growing trees in park nurseries. Read research and recommendations >

Food: Develop a comprehensive urban agriculture plan. Evaluate all available empty lots (including brownfield sites) as potential opportunities for commercial and community urban agriculture. Develop new codes enabling local food production. As a priority, target food desert communities with high numbers of brownfields. Allow local residential food production. Develop new soil testing and clean-up requirements for growing food in former brownfield sites. Allow and also increase tax incentives for rooftop food production. Read research and recommendations >

Green Economy: Invest in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvement projects to boost job growth. Use green infrastructure systems, including green roofs, to increase number of local, non-exportable green jobs. Launch a comprehensive green jobs program, training chronically unemployed and former convicts in brownfield remediation, green roof installation, and other tasks. Launch a national campaign in an effort to lure the best green talent to the District. Read research and recommendations >

Governance: Organize watershed councils at the local level and appoint ward-level sustainability advocates to help implement and align SustainableDC initiatives. Use Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) guidelines as a management tool for achieving high-performing landscapes across the district. Read research and recommendations >

Go to the report Web site and explore the recommendations in detail, or download the PDF version of the report.

Also, be sure to add your comments below on how D.C. can become greenest.

Image credit: ASLA 2011 Professional Design Honor Award. Monumental Core Framework Plan, Washington, D.C. AECOM, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the U. S. Commission of Fine Arts, Washington, D.C.