by Susanna Parker

Mayor Gray Releases Sustainable DC PlanBGnews_logo

First announced in 2011, DC Mayor Vincent Gray’s ambitious Sustainable DC Plan was released late last week. Over the past two years, DC government, with cooperation and help from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, has been researching sustainability challenges and solutions, consulting with green building and infrastructure experts, and seeking feedback from citizens. The result is the 129-page Sustainable DC Plan, which Mayor Gray says will turn the District into the “healthiest, greenest, and most livable city” in the United States.

Implementation of the plan will occur over the next 20 years. Some parts will occur sooner – Gray wants to push for legislation to accelerate urban agriculture and farming, and the annual planting of 8,600 trees is scheduled to begin this year. Green space is a big focus of the plan – Gray is calling for eight parks to be constructed in areas with limited green spaces, and he envisions more connections between parks, walking trails & biking trails, and public transportation. Other aspects of the plan include energy efficient buildings that contribute electricity back into the grid, more electric vehicle charging stations, and the expansion of the Capital Bikeshare program.

For more information, and to read the entire Sustainable DC Plan, see the dcist article here.

The Sequester’s Effect on the Environment

While Congress avoided the fiscal cliff in January, the sequester (a package of across the board spending cuts) is set to take place this Friday, and will effectively recreate the first half of the recently dodged fiscal cliff. In an article on The Huffington Post, Mother Nature Network’s Russell McLendon discusses the possible environmental effects these budget cuts could have.

The first threat would be to the nation’s food safety; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that if these budget cuts occur, Food Safety and Inspection Service would be forced to send their employees on a 15-day furlough, which would effectively shut down the country’s meat processing. Another big impact would be felt by the National Park Service, which would see a $110 million loss if the sequester goes through. This would have impacts nationwide, as parks would open later in the season, temporary and seasonal employee positions would be cut, and a hiring freeze would be implemented. Scientific research could suffer as well – the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation have said they would be unable to issue the same amount of research grants and awards as in past years, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs. Finally, FEMA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the FDA would all have to make large budget cuts, resulting in less public health safety programs and lowered disaster response.

For more information on the impacts of the sequester, please read the full Huffington Post article here.

Upcoming Green Events

  • NonProfit Energy Alliance Workshop, Feb. 27, 9:00 am – 10:30 am at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Second Floor, Bethesda.

Pepco Commercial & Industrial Program, DC Sustainable Energy Utility, and Bethesda Green are working together to host a workshop for participants of the NonProfit Energy Alliance. Participants and other non-profit organizations are encouraged to attend and learn about utility incentive programs that provide cash money for energy efficiency improvements. Attendees will learn about the programs available, savings realized by other organizations, and how to take advantage of these programs. For more information, and to RSVP, please visit the event website.

  • GreenWheaton’s Green Drinks Happy Hour, Feb. 28, 5:00 pm, The Limerick Pub, 11301 Elkin Street, Wheaton

Join GreenWheaton for socializing and networking at their monthly Green Drinks Happy Hour. Learn more about their work toward an environmentally friendly Wheaton, and meet other sustainability-minded Montgomery County residents!

  • Grow Your Health – Film Screening & Wellness Festival, Sunday March 10, 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Woodson High School Auditorium, 9525 Main Street, Fairfax, Virginia

Presented by the Northern Virginia Whole Foods Nutrition Meetup Group, this afternoon event will feature local food, health, and wellness exhibits, a screening of the movie “In Organic We Trust” classes on gardening, a local food panel discussion, and lunch by Fields of Athenry Farm-to-Table Kitchen. The event is $10 in advance, $15 at the door. For more information, and to purchase tickets, please visit

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.