Washington, D.C. - Climate Ready DC

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Challenges

Working across district government, the private sector and the federal government proved to be a challenge. As of right now, the plan has been integrated into the operations of more than a dozen district agencies which have been identified as leads for implementing actions in the plan. A plan with such a wide scope requires the cooperation and engagement of many different departments, so putting the plan into action means constant communication and approval across the board. Though this was an initial challenge, it actually strengthens the plan to take so many perspectives into account given that doing so develops a high-level accountability structure.

Actions

The plan is led by the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) and is made up of 77 actions. During the planning process, the project team was sure to take a holistic approach when identifying climate hazards and risks. Climate change is projected to bring extreme weather conditions to D.C., increasing the risk for flooding and spikes in temperature –– in order to assess which risks should be considered the most pressing, the initiative has developed a range of scenarios in the short-, medium-, and long-term. Each action within the plan is, as a result, very pointed; to further specify how different actions should be classified, the plan is divided into four sections. In organizing actions into the categories of utilities and transportation infrastructure; buildings and development; neighborhoods and communities; and governance, the Climate Ready D.C. plan shows how even large cities can establish detailed plans of action.

Projected Outcomes

The Climate Ready D.C. project has four long-term goals. First, to improve transportation and utility infrastructure to develop resiliency to extreme heat, flooding, and severe weather. Second, to upgrade existing buildings and construct new, climate-resilient buildings. Third, to make D.C.’s neighborhoods more prepared both socially and economically to build stronger communities. And fourth, to establish policies, structures and monitoring procedures to ensure successful implementation. These subdivisions again demonstrate the holistic nature of the plan and prove its potential for long-term impact. Incentivising solar, energy efficiency measures, and green infrastructure also secures D.C. in the long term; sustainably-minded capital projects built now will continue to benefit residents into the future and has the potential to change building standards in D.C.

 

The plan also advocates for what they call ‘nature-based solutions’ such as tree plantings, living shorelines, and green infrastructure, setting an example of hands on sustainability measures. With a plan like this, planning with climate action in mind becomes a business as usual practice across departments.