GREEN Ambassadors

Solar power for residences, apartments, and condos. Green buildings. Rain barrels and the forecast and mitigation strategies for likely climate-change impacts. These are just a few of the topics that DC’s advisory neighborhood commissions (ANCs) address. Now, thanks to a program offered by the DC Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE), commissioners will receive technical assistance on these complex issues through an Environmental Ambassador (AEA) program. The goal is to provide the tools for understanding and influencing environment-related strategies on development projects brought before the ANCs. Each commission has been asked to designate an ambassador for this training.

An initial AEA meeting held in May focused on “Climate Ready DC,” the city’s climate adaptation plan and how ANCs and their constituents can comment on it. For the last two years DOEE has been working with a team of technical experts to assess the risks that climate change poses and identify potential solutions. In addition to briefing commissioners on the identified risks to the District's infrastructure, public facilities, and neighborhoods, the team is seeking feedback on the recommended actions to build resilience.

Feedback will be incorporated into a climate-change adaptation plan that DOEE will release for public comment this summer. Future trainings will include topics such as DOEE’s Stormwater Credit Trading Program, climate-change resilience, clean energy, DC’s Green Building Code, and green incentives offered by the DC government. The sessions will also give the commissioners an opportunity to learn about and provide feedback on new policies, plans, and programs under development.

ANC commissioners need to be knowledgeable about a wide array of topics. As DC’s most local form of government, the ANCs have a tremendous amount of neighborhood responsibility and influence. Through the AEA program DOEE hopes that these trained ambassadors can be leaders on environmental and sustainability issues. 

The ambassadors will also be neighborhood advocates for the District’s Sustainable DC Plan (www.sustainabledc.org/), initiated under Mayor Vincent Gray’s administration and embraced by Mayor Bowser. The plan sets out ambitious but realistic goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve the livelihoods of all District residents by 2032.

DOEE Director Tommy Wells notes, “Having served as an ANC commissioner for three terms, I know you can be faced with complex problems and must make decisions with the best information you have. The goal of this program is to increase the commissions’ confidence and competence when development has an environmental impact."

Catherine Plume is a lifelong environmentalist, a 20-year DC resident, a writer, and a blogger for the DC Recycler, www.DCRecycler.blogspot.com; Twitter @DC_Recycler.


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