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Sustainable DC Act

On January 16th, 2013, Mayor Vincent C. Gray signed the Sustainable DC Act of 2012 in preparation of the release of his full sustainability plan, Sustainable DC. The law, first submitted to District Council just before Earth Day 2012, benefits the District across all three legs of sustainability: economy, equity, and the environment. When first proposed, the Sustainable DC Act consisted of nine components with sustainability impact and all nine proposals were adopted by Council. Two proposals became law as part of the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Support Act of 2012 and the remaining nine were signed into law today.

“As we finalize the District’s 20-year sustainability plan, Sustainable DC, this legislation puts the legal framework in place to begin work on several areas of the plan immediately upon its release in early February,” Mayor Gray said. “Together, with the $4.5 million in funding for implementation I made available earlier this year, the pieces are quickly coming together to make the District of Columbia the healthier, greenest, most livable city in the nation.”

The seven subtitles of the act cover energy efficiency, renewable energy, water quality, urban agriculture, and children’s health.

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 DDOE RiverSmart programs that encourage the conservation and protection of natural resources. Residents receiving DDOE 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 DDOE 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 DDOE. 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.

- The Sustainable DC Act of 2012 [PDF]