How DC Can Rise to the Challenges of Climate Change

by Nena Perry-Brown

How DC Can Rise to the Challenges of Climate Change: Figure 1
A map showing DC’s sea levels in 2100 due to Antarctic glacial melting

The District is not immune from the effects of climate change and a panel on Tuesday night discussed how the city is responding to mounting environmental concerns.

The panel, moderated by former Ward 6 councilmember Tommy Wells, offered a reality check on climate change, its likely impact in the District and what is being done to prevent the worst from happening. The overall takeaway for the evening was that different cities and localities need to partner together to come up with bold and creative solutions to diminish the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable people and neighborhoods.

Wells noted that DC’s location — situated between two tidal rivers and on top of a tectonic plate — means that the city is gradually sinking even as sea levels rise. Even though the city is currently implementing its Sustainable DC plan, involving several benchmarks and timelines aimed at reducing emissions, additional steps need to be taken in order to prepare the city for the inevitable effects of climate change.

Washington Post Deputy Weather Editor Angela Fritz pointed out that Antarctic glacial melting alone could raise DC-area sea levels by two meters by the year 2100. In light of such sobering information, the city is drafting a climate adaptation plan which will assess and address its infrastructure and neighborhood vulnerability, as well as identify what lies within the floodplains.

DC’s former head of the Office of Planning Harriet Tregoning, now with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, offered a perspective on the nationwide and local responses to climate change. There were 208 declared disasters in the U.S. between 2011 and 2013, and while most funding goes toward restoring impacted areas, Tregoning’s office set aside $1 billion at the end of 2013 for the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC). The contest offered an opportunity for disaster-affected localities to develop solutions to not only rebuild, but to do so in such a way that future vulnerabilities are mitigated against. HUD announced the winners of the contest this past January.

How DC Can Rise to the Challenges of Climate Change: Figure 2
A winning NDRC design for a New York City park that will mitigate rising sea levels

Another area of concern is the disproportionate impact of extreme weather and environmental instability on poorer households. Tregoning pointed out that the benefits of renewable energy have largely been inequitable thus far, and poor people pay more for utilities.

Wells explained that up to 10 percent of the city can support solar panels, but the challenge is to figure out how to maximize the benefits of solar power for low-income residents. Towards that end, the city is spending $25 million over 24 months to invest in solar energy, and solar panels will be installed on DC government buildings (which already receive 30 percent of their energy from a Pennsylvania wind farm).

Ultimately, the takeaway from the evening was that cities need to experiment and find solutions that can address impending climate change, the need for improved and expanded transit, and underemployment. While Tregoning jokingly asked, “don’t you think the monuments would be beautiful by gondola?”, the fact remains that these are the kinds of bold proposals that can become effective solutions.

See other articles related to: planning, hud, climate change

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/how_dc_can_rise_to_the_challenges_of_climate_change/11130

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »