Editor’s note: We’re proud that Groundswell itself is a part of current efforts to use D.C.’s successes as an example for other cities. Read on to see how we’re contributing directly to a green D.C.

Washington, D.C. is way more than Frank Underwood, Happy Hours, and free museums.

As proof? D.C. is taking concrete actions to own its impact in the fight against climate change. And that means that the District is making real progress towards a healthier future for everyone.

Here’s why residents of the nation’s capital should feel proud—and why other cities should take note:

Tourists Sightseeing City1. We’ve got a plan.

In February of 2013, Mayor Vincent Gray released a plan to make D.C. the greenest, healthiest, and most livable city in the nation. The Sustainable D.C. Plan targets 4 problem areas: Jobs & Economy, Health & Wellness, Equity & Diversity, and Climate & Environment.

Track the city’s progress here.


2. We know how to travel in style.

More than half of D.C. residents travel to work the low carbon way. DC is currently in second place behind New York in the use of biking, walking, and public transit (54.6%) for daily commuting. Silver medal—not too shabby, D.C., not too shabby.

Couple with lightbulb.

3. Our (energy) diet is clean, and getting cleaner.

Did you know that 100% of D.C.’s city government’s electricity is sourced from renewable energy?

According to the EPA, D.C. is the largest municipal government in the country that runs 100% of its offices and facilities’ electricity needs on renewable energy. #cleandiet.

And even better: one goal of the city’s initiatives are to cut citywide energy usage by 50% by 2032. This includes requiring building energy audits, setting energy performance standards, investing in renewable energy and efficiency upgrades, and instituting major educational campaigns. It’s an aggressive target, but an awesome one, too.


4. We’re stealing Katy Perry’s thunder.

Sorry Katy Perry, we don’t know what plastic bags drifting through the wind (wanting to start again) feels like…

The District charges five cents for each disposable paper or plastic carryout bag, which then goes towards The Anacostia River Protection and Clean Up Fund. As a result, 80% of residents report a reduction in plastic bag use, as well as now carrying a reusable bag when they shop.

And that’s not all. This past year, D.C. passed a bill to ban all plastic foam (aka Styrofoam) containers by 2016.

Why are these steps so important? The EPA found that Americans throw away 25 billion (yes, that says billion) Styrofoam cups per year. Hundreds of years from now, every Styrofoam product you’ve ever thrown away will still be sitting in a landfill, unchanged. So by decreasing our dependence on plastic foam, we’re keeping D.C. cleaner for future generations.


5. We’re schooling everybody on how to be green (literally)

This past year, the District launched the D.C. Green Schools Challenge to bring students, teachers, and facilities managers on board with energy efficiency. Through the program, students are gaining real-world experience and leadership skills, so they can help shape a better future!

The winner of the past challenge, Langley Elementary, reduced their electricity usage by a whopping 30% in just three weeks! Overall, the 28 participating schools saved over 76,000 kWh of energy during the competition!

Capitol Hill, Washington

6. D.C. renters aren’t waiting around—we’re taking matters into our own hands.

Yes, that means more than just recycling and using less energy—renters in the District have other ways of showing they care about climate change and environmental justice.

Anyone who pays a PEPCO bill can support renewable wind power with the click of a few buttons. Many already have, and just this month, over 500 D.C. residents are uniting together to buy affordable wind power as a group. By choosing wind over coal or natural gas, renters (and homeowners) can reduce their carbon emissions by 99%. Seriously—99%!

D.C. renters are taking advantage of an opportunity that’s live right nowJoin Groundswell’s group if you want to learn more about how you can own your impact and take concrete actions in the fight of our generation.