What is an Eco-City?
Eco-Cities are places where people can live healthier and economically productive lives while reducing their impact on the environment. They work to harmonize existing policies, regional realities, and economic and business markets with their natural resources and environmental assets. Eco-Cities strive to engage all citizens in collaborative and transparent decision making, while being mindful of social equity concerns.
- City Receives Highest Certification for Virginia Municipal League’s Go Green Government Challenge
On Tuesday, October 15, the City was recognized by the Virginia Municipal League (VML) with platinum-level certification for being a green and sustainable government. The Go Green Government Challenge, a VML initiative, encourages local governments to implement specific environmental policies and practical actions that reduce carbon emissions generated by both the local government and the broader community. VML’s platinum-level certification, the highest level for local governments, is awarded to those scoring more than 175 out of 200 possible points. This is the sixth consecutive year that VML has recognized the City at this highest level. The City was given maximum innovation points for 1) its efforts in permanently closing the local coal-fired power plant, 2) achieving the highest-ever solid waste recycling rate of 48.4%, 3) establishing a Capital Bikeshare program in Alexandria and installing eight stations in Old Town, 4) purchasing new hybrid DASH buses and trolleys, 5) installing a 42-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at Beatley Central Library, and 6) retrofitting traffic lights with LED technology.
- The City Received Five-Year Renewal of Its Combined Sewer System Permit
The City of Alexandria has received a 5 year renewal of its permit to operate Combined Sewer System. In 2011, the City applied to Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) for its Virginia Pollution Discharge Elimination Permit, which regulates discharges from the City’s Combined Sewer System (CSS). The City’s Combined Sewer System, a legacy infrastructure built in 19th and early 20th century, is a combination of storm and sanitary sewer systems serving approximately 540 acres in Old Town.
As part of the City’s Eco-City Alexandria initiative, and in coordination with VDEQ, this new permit ensures regulatory requirements are met and the environment is protected. Under the permit negotiated by the City with VDEQ, the City will be updating its Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) over the next three years, and implementing several additional projects to improve water quality in Hunting Creek, Potomac River, and Chesapeake Bay. The LTCP to be developed will identify the strategy, projects, schedule, additional infrastructure investments and long-term impacts on the community and will be implemented no later than 2035. In addition to developing the LTCP, the permit also requires the City to implement several important construction projects within the five year permit cycle. These projects are needed to improve the system and to continue to reduce the impacts.
The City plans to start planning and implementation of several new and expanded initiatives required under the new CSS permit, including the following:
- Update the LTCP within three years from the issuance of the permit.
- Construction projects to improve sewer system performance, and improve water quality.
- Develop and implement green infrastructure pilot projects within the CSS.
- Continue implementing CSS Area Reduction Plan that requires developers to separate sewers in the CSS as redevelopment occurs.
For more information on combined sewer system, please visit the City's website: http://www.alexandriava.gov/Sewers
What is Eco-City Alexandria?
Early in 2007, under the Mayor and City Council's direction, the City of Alexandria partnered with Virginia Tech's Department of Urban Affairs and Planning located in Alexandria to develop a new and holistic strategic environmental planning process called Eco-City Alexandria. The ultimate goal was to create an Eco-City Charter and Environmental Action Plan to guide Alexandria toward environmental sustainability. The Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission, a Council-appointed volunteering group of 13 citizens with expertise and interest in the environmental field, is the project's principal advisor along with representatives from Alexandria City Council and City Staff. The Director of the City's Office of Environmental Quality serves as the City's project manager.
In 2007, the Eco-City Alexandria team conducted an inventory of existing City programs to create "Eco-City Alexandria: A Green-Ventory of City Environmental Policies, Plans and Programs". In addition, Virginia Tech examined best practices from across the country and abroad to create a Compendium of Model Programs and Practices.
In 2008, the project team focused on the development of an Eco-City Charter. An extensive public outreach campaign was devised to ensure that the Charter reflects the wishes and priorities of the citizens. A successful Eco-City Café was held to obtain public inputs required for the development of a draft Charter. This draft Charter was then released for public comment at the following annual Alexandria Earth Day. A very successful Eco-City Summit was then held to get additional public feedback on the draft Charter. The keynote speaker for this summit was Mayor Bob Harvey of the City of Waitakere, New Zealand, a pioneer of Eco-City and sustainability. The Eco-City Charter, one of the first of its kind in the country, was unanimously adopted by City Council in June 2008. This Charter encompasses the core values and ten guiding principles which is the basis for the Environmental Action Plan.
The Environmental Action Plan 2030 (EAP 2030) was adopted by City Council in June 2009 and follows the guiding principles outlined in the Eco-City Charter. It serves as a road map for City leaders and residents to implement the Eco-City Charter. The EAP 2030 outlines 48 goals, 50 targets and 353 actions for the next 20 years to lead the City towards environmental sustainability.
What is Sustainability?
Sustainability is progress that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The central goal of sustainability is to provide the best outcomes for the human and natural worlds.
A sustainable community is an environmentally, economically, and socially healthy place where people can live, work and play for decades to come:
- Ecological sustainability ensures that all parts of the natural and built environments work together as a single ecological system.
- Economic sustainability ensures a healthy economy that supports and sustains people and the environment in which they live over the long-term.
- Social sustainability ensures that a community meets residents' basic health and social needs and has the resiliency to prevent and/or address problems in the future.
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