City of Alexandria, VA
City’s 20th Annual Alexandria Earth Day a Success!
More than 2800 residents, students, families, business owners, and exhibitors attended the City of Alexandria’s 20th annual Alexandria Earth Day and Arbor Day celebration at Ben Brenman Park on Saturday, April 20, making it one of the City’s most successful Earth Day events to date!
Sponsored by the City’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities (RPCA), the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES), and the Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission (EPC), this year’s theme was "Water: Every Drop Counts,” highlighted by the third annual Upcycling Showcase. The showcase featured students from Alexandria City Public Schools, who modeled fashions created from upcycled materials. The showcase also highlighted music, dance, literature and visual arts produced by the students.
Exhibitors included City agencies and organizations dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Exhibitors provided environmental educational activities for the whole family. On display at the event were a hybrid Trolley and DASH bus, an electric car fueled by energy generated from the Covanta Energy-from-Waste facility, and other green vehicles. Additional activities included the Annual Earth Day Tree Sale and the Arbor Day tree planting. Live music was performed by the earth-conscious band Woven Green.
Alexandria Renew Enterprises and the Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission awarded Danielle Fidler with the Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award. The award is named in honor of the late Ellen Pickering and her lifelong dedication to City preservation and conservation. A tree was also planted in Fidler’s honor.
For additional information on the Alexandria Earth Day event, visit http://alexearthday.org/.
25th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup
The 25th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup was a success! On Saturday, April 6th, the City's Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES), Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ) and Solid Waste Division, in conjunction with the Alice Ferguson Foundation, hosted two cleanup sites in Alexandria at Four Mile Run Park:
- End of 3700 Commonwealth Avenue
- 4131 Mt. Vernon Avenue (on the right before crossing Four Mile Run)
Thanks to the more than 100 volunteers who came out to participate in the event, 115 bags of trash and more than 650 pounds of loose bulk trash were collected and removed from Four Mile Run! Residents, families, scouts, students and local businesses all joined forces and came out to support the event. Some of the many interesting items found include: four bicycle tires; a car battery; a mattress liner; a rug; one aluminum crutch; and several wooden boards and metal poles.
The Alice Ferguson Foundation created the watershed-wide cleanup in 1989 and has overseen the collection of well over 5 million pounds of trash. Last year, 14,616 volunteers at 660 sites in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., collected 262 tons of trash, including 1,566 tires, 185,300 recyclable bottles, 31,450 plastic bags, and 37,600 cigarette butts. You can visit the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup site to find out more information about the 2013 results once all of the data is reported and posted.
Scouts stand in front of a pile of trash bags collected from the Four Mile Run, Mt. Vernon Avenue site. One scout found a Frisbee on the stream banks and took it home.
Father and son hard at work to help clean the banks of Four Mile Run at the Mt. Vernon Avenue site.
Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission and Alexandria Renew Enterprises Seek Nominees for the Fifth Annual Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award
Award Honors Legacy of Distinguished Alexandria Environmental Steward
For Immediate Release: February 12, 2013
The City of Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission and Alexandria Renew Enterprises (formerly the Alexandria Sanitation Authority) are seeking nominees for the fifth annual Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award. The award honors and recognizes those who demonstrate a commitment to protecting the natural environment and keeping the City "green."
The award will be presented during the Alexandria Earth Day 2013 celebration at Ben Brenman Park (4800 Brenman Park Dr.) on Saturday, April 20, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. A tree will also be planted in honor of the recipient of this year's Award. The event will include numerous educational exhibits, demonstrations, hands-on activities for children, a tree sale and more to emphasize this year's theme: Water: Every Drop Counts!
The Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award is named in honor of Frances Ellen Pickering, a former Board member of the Alexandria Sanitation Authority, who was dedicated to preservation and conservation in the City throughout her life. She helped create the Mount Vernon Trail between Alexandria and Washington. Mrs. Pickering was committed to preserving and enhancing the City's waterfront and urged the adoption of the City's Open Space Plan, lobbying to preserve Founder's Park and protect it from high-rise development. She also implemented the planting of 1,000 citizen-donated cherry trees during her tenure as Chair of the Alexandria Beautification Commission.
Mrs. Pickering served on a number of City boards and commissions, and was elected to City Council as an independent for one term between 1976 and 1979.
Qualifications: Residents, groups, clubs, organizations or corporations may be nominated. To be eligible, nominees must live with the City of Alexandria, and corporations, organizations and other groups must operate within the City of Alexandria. The actions of the nominees must have a direct impact on protecting the natural environment and natural resources within the City of Alexandria.
Selection: Selection will be made by a special committee composed of representatives from Alexandria Renew Enterprises, the Environmental Policy Commission, and members of Mrs. Pickering's family.
Applicable Topics: Subject matter applicable to the award criteria include natural resource preservation, energy conservation, education outreach regarding environmental sustainability, water preservation, water conservation, waste reduction and/or materials reuse/recycling, and promotion of clean air.
Those making nominations may also refer to the Alexandria's Eco-City Charter, adopted in 2008, and the Environmental Action Plan 2030, adopted in in 2009. Both documents define the guiding principles of environmental sustainability. Visit the Eco-City Alexandria page for more information.
Submissions must include the following:
- The nominee's name, address, and telephone number, or the key individual to contact if the nominee is not an individual.
- The name, address, and telephone number of the person nominating the candidate must be included.
- A brief description (not to exceed one page) of the nominee's accomplishments and qualifications for the Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award.
Nominations may be submitted in several ways:
The Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission
Alexandria City Hall
T&ES, Office of Environmental Quality
301 King Street, Room 3000
Alexandria, VA 22314
Nominations must be received by March 22 (extended by one week).
City's Top Ten Environmental Achievements of 2012
Accomplishments include the permanent closure of the GenOn power plant, highest-ever solid waste recycling rate of 48.4%,new hybrid trolleys and buses operated by DASH, launch of Capital Bikeshare's eight bikeshare stations in Old Town, installation of solar photovoltaic panels at Beatley Library, Witter Fields and ARenew, continuing success of the Green Building Policy, sustainable construction practices at ARenew, development of 20 environmental indicators to measure Eco-City progress, construction of several bicycle and pedestrian trails and City's receipt of the highest level of recognition (Platinum Level) by the Virginia Municipal League (VML) as part of its Green Government Challenge.
Alexandria Significantly Improves Air Quality and Protects Public Health with Power Plant Closure
Monday, October 1, 2012, marks a significant milestone for the City of Alexandria and its residents which is the permanent closure of the GenOn Potomac River Generating Station (PRGS). For several years this facility has been the single largest source of air pollutants in Northern Virginia. Its closure is a culmination of intense and unwavering efforts by the residents and the City Government for more than a decade. From the City's perspective, operation of the PRGS had been a serious public health issue. In response to citizens' concern, the City Council adopted a resolution in 2004 stating the City's policy to clean up PRGS in the short term and close it down permanently in the long term.
The City then participated in the State regulatory process which resulted in the issuance of a comprehensive permit for this plant in 2008 having tight emission limits that conform to all National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The same year, the City and GenOn also reached a Settlement Agreement requiring GenOn to spend $34 million on improved stack gas and fugitive fine particulate matter controls in addition to the $35 million the company spent on its stack merge project aimed at mitigating air quality issues in the plant vicinity. Subsequently and before the City and GenOn committed to installing the improved baghouse technology at this facility, the two parties reached an agreement on August 29, 2011 to permanently close the company's PRGS facility by October 1, 2012, in exchange for the return of about $32 million to the company.
This plant closure is consistent with the Eco-City Alexandria's Environmental Action Plan and benefits both Alexandria residents and those living in the Washington Metropolitan areas. An additional benefit is the drastic reduction in the emissions of greenhouse gas which is believed to be the major contributor to the current climate change issue.
"This plant closure is a testament to the City's commitment to environmental stewardship, public health protection, and the Eco-City Alexandria initiative" said Alexandria´s Mayor William D. Euille.
For a timeline of key milestones of the Alexandria community efforts to close down PRGS, please click here.
On September 27, 2012, GenOn notified the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) that it will no longer operate any of the coal-fired boilers or generate electricity at the Potomac River Generating Station as of 00:00 on October 1, 2012. GenOn will work with VDEQ in making a mutual determination that PRGS is permanently shut down on or before December 31, 2012. As a result of this determination, all air permits issued to PRGS by VDEQ will be revoked.
City of Alexandria Achieves VML Platinum Level Certification for the Fifth consecutive Year
For the fifth straight year, the City of Alexandria earned Platinum level certification, the highest level of recognition by the Virginia Municipal League's (VML) Green Government Challenge. The City received innovation points for its various environmental initiatives such as the following:
- Negotiated agreement with GenOn to close the company's Potomac River Generating Station facility
- Introduced free trolley services for King Street and Old Town using five hybrid trolleys
- Initiated program to retrofit all City's traffic lights with LED technology and achieved 50% replacement in 2012
- Joined the Capital Bikeshare network and installed eight bike stations in Old Town area
- Initiated program to replace existing bus shelters with solar-powered designs
- Developed 20 environmental indicators to measure progress of the City's Eco-City Alexandria initiative.
This certification by VML reaffirms the City's long term commitment to the Eco-City Alexandria initiative, and achieving environmental sustainability throughout the City.On July 31, 2012 the City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Library will begin installation of solar panels at the Beatley Central Library at 5005 Duke Street. Made possible by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Grant from the US Department of Energy, the solar panel project is the first on a City building and supports the vision of the City's Eco-City Charter and Environmental Action Plan goals.
On July 3, 2012, GenOn confirmed that the retirement date for the Potomac River Generating Station (PRGS) facility will be October 1, 2012. This date was agreed upon by the City and GenOn as part of the Amendment to Project Schedule and Agreement signed by both parties on August 29, 2011. For more details, click on the following link:
- It is open to all residents of Alexandria and everyone is encouraged to start a discussion or report a fact on any environmental subject relevant to the city or of interest to the residents of the city. The EPC does reserve the right to moderate the forum but only if the debates get beyond the Commission's guidelines. The aim is for the forum to add to the richness of community life in Eco-City Alexandria. Click here to enter the forum and start a discussion.
City of Alexandria Achieves 48% Recycling Rate
The City of Alexandria has achieved its highest recycling rate ever! The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has approved the City's 2011 Recycling Rate Report that documents a municipal solid waste recycling rate of 48.4 percent. This is a seven percent increase over last year's reported 41.4 percent recycling rate, and 20 percentage points higher than the City's 2009 recycling rate as certified by the Virginia DEQ. The City's recycling rate has been continuously improving over the past several years due in part to a significant reduction in the overall waste generated combined with improvements to the City's recycling services which include larger carts for single stream recycling and the addition of alley recycling pickup services. This improved recycling rate puts us another step closer to achieving the City's long-term Eco-City Alexandria goals while saving the City a considerable amount of money in avoided waste disposal costs.
- The Green Building Resource Center (GBRC) is one of the City's latest Eco-City Alexandria initiatives, offering citizens and business owners information on how to reduce energy and water consumption and operating costs by offering practical solutions to design, build and maintain their spaces in an eco-friendly manner. We welcome all citizens to visit the Green Building Resource Center periodically for new technical articles, event updates, and local case studies.
Under the direction of and with strong commitment from the Mayor and Members of City Council, the City of Alexandria, in partnership with its Environmental Policy Commission (EPC), Virginia Tech and the community, embarked on a new initiative – Eco-City Alexandria – early in 2007 which culminated in the Council's adoption of the Eco-City Charter, the first of its kind in the Commonwealth, in 2008, as well as the Environmental Action Plan 2030 (EAP) in 2009. Since then, the City and its residents have collectively completed numerous actions aimed at fostering the goals of the Eco-City. This report is the first attempt to quantitatively measure the progress that the residents and the City government have accomplished in leading Alexandria further towards environmental sustainability. These quantitative measures are in the form of 20 environmental indicators developed by the EPC in consultation with City staff.
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.
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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