Two major packages of legislation directly supporting Sustainable DC have been signed into law. The Sustainable DC Act of 2012 was signed into January 2013 and the Sustainable DC Act of 2014 was signed July 2014. Together, the acts remove obstacles and provide incentives to further the goals and actions in Sustainable DC as well as codify several important subtitles such as launching an environmental literacy program and banning expanded polystyrene (commonly referred to as foam).
The seven subtitles that make up the Sustainable DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2014 will help achieve the vision to make the District of Columbia, in one generation, the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the United States. Coupled with an omnibus Mayor’s Order, this legislation will ensure the District moves further, faster on the path to improve the quality of life and economic opportunity for all District residents. The components of this legislation work together to address challenges laid out in the Sustainable DC Plan: growing jobs and the economy, improving health and wellness, ensuring equity and diversity, and protecting our climate and the environment.
JOBS & ECONOMY
The “Aggregate Benchmarking Data Access” and “Benchmarking Data Transfer Improvement” Acts will support the District’s cutting-edge building benchmarking program by making data on energy and water use more accessible to building owners through direct electronic reporting by utilities. They further require transfer of utility records when a property changes ownership to ensure the new owner can track the building’s performance and make informed decisions about the cost of operating a building in addition to the price of the building.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
The “Radon Contractor Proficiency” Act will ensure, through new DOEE regulations, that contractors performing radon mitigation services meet professional certification standards to preserve the health and safety of homes in the District.
EQUITY & DIVERSITY
The “Transit Benefits Requirement” Act will reduce the cost of transit for employees across the city by requiring District employers with 20 or more employees to provide access to transit benefit programs, such as a pre-tax payroll deduction. To learn more about this new commuter benefit requirement, including access to webinars, toolkits, outreach materials, and more, click here.
The “Environmental Literacy Plan Adoption” Act creates a new program and staff within the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to further develop and implement the Environmental Literacy Plan first developed under the Healthy Schools Act. The Environmental Literacy Plan will bring environmental education, including meaningful outdoor experiences, to District youth. To learn more about the plan, click here.
CLIMATE & THE ENVIRONMENT
The “Anacostia Pollution Prevention” Act prohibits the sale, use, or provision of polystyrene containers for food services and encourages the use of compostable or recyclable containers after January 1, 2016. This provision also requires food service providers to use compostable or recyclable food service products after January 1, 2017. Through regulation, the Mayor would define the range of compostable and recyclable materials that could be used for food services. Reducing the use of expanded polystyrene (commonly referred to as foam), which cannot be recycled or composted, will help clean the Anacostia and other waterways of foam trash. To learn more about the foam ban, click here.
The “Sustainable Urban Agriculture Apiculture” Act will allow the Mayor to define through regulations, rather than statute, standards for beekeeping in the District to reflect the needs of local beekeepers and an effective level of agency oversight.
The “Urban Forest Protection” Act will increase the quality of the District’s tree canopy by requiring payment to immediately offset the destruction or removal of a tree. This change will allow the District Government to plant replacement trees on public space throughout the city to more rapidly replace lost trees and help achieve the citywide 40% tree canopy goal.
To clarify regulations and enable some actions in the Sustainable DC Plan, the Sustainable DC Act of 2012 into law in January 2013. One of the key pieces of the Sustainable DC Act is the Property Assessed Clean Energy financing program, which provides an incentive for large building energy efficiency retrofits. The Sustainable DC Act also provided measures to help clean the Anacostia River, promote urban agriculture through beekeeping, protect children’s health, and assist low income and elderly households with making homes energy efficient and comfortable.
The “Energy Efficiency Financing Amendment Act of 2012” increases access to private capital in order to promote energy efficiency and related job creation. This amendment clarifies and refines the existing authority to allow roll-out of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) pilot program, a $30 million energy retrofit pilot backed by private capital and the first installment in achieving the $250 million program already authorized by the DC Council.
The “Conservation and Protection of Natural Resources Incentive Clarification Amendment Act of 2012” exempts from computation as District gross taxable income incentives received through DOEE RiverSmart programs that encourage the conservation and protection of natural resources. Residents receiving DOEE green incentives need clarity that rebates, grants, subsidies, in-kind services, and other such incentives received for activities that conserve and protect natural resources are excluded from the computation of a taxpayer’s District gross income.
The “Renewable Energy Incentive Program Amendment Act of 2012” allows DOEE to continue a successful program that has provided rebates to District residents and businesses for the installation of renewable energy generating systems in the District. The proposed program increases the use and awareness of renewable-energy-generation technologies by District residents, businesses and institutions, and contributes to environmental and economic benefits.
The “Clean and Affordable Energy Benchmarking Amendment Act of 2012” establishes, as a fundable Clean and Affordable Energy Act (CAEA) program, the building benchmarking program required by the CAEA and now under development by DOEE. This program, one of the first of its type in the nation, requires disclosure of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager scores for all private buildings over 50,000 square feet. The program will roll out in January 2013, and includes extensive data management, enforcement, and industry education support.
The “Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fertilizer Amendment Act of 2012” reduces the use of fertilizers that can pollute the District’s waterways, accelerating the growth of algae and damaging aquatic ecosystems, fisheries, and water quality. 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.
The “Sustainable Urban Agriculture Apiculture Act of 2012” promotes the raising of honeybees, which are beneficial to home garden vegetable and fruit production in the District. Currently, honeybee hives are only permitted under very limited conditions, despite being allowed in equally dense cities such as New York City and Chicago.
The “Child-occupied Facility Healthy Air Amendment Act of 2012” prohibits the proximate location of child-occupied facilities and dry-cleaning facilities that use perchloroethlyene or n-propyl bromide as a cleaning agent for clothes or other fabrics.