National Capital Region

Washington, D.C.

Grant Type: 2011 Regional Planning Preferred Sustainability Status Holder

Grant Amount: NA

Lead Organization: Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments


The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) is an independent nonprofit association that brings area leaders together to address major regional issues in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia. MWCOG’s membership is comprised of 300 elected officials from 22 local governments, the Maryland and Virginia state legislatures, and US Congress. The region has a population of almost five million with an estimated 1.6 million moving to the area by 2040. The region ranked 13 of 15 in terms of growth among major metro areas in 2011.

While federal government spending was once the driving force of the region’s economy, today the combination   of decreased federal spending and ongoing budget uncertainty is pushing metropolitan Washington dangerously close to a fiscal cliff. The region has several advantages, including an educated workforce, entrepreneurial climate, international connections, vibrant, transit-oriented activity centers, and access to the federal government.


MWCOG Climate, Energy and Environment Policy Committee (CEEPC) was created by MWCOG’s Board in 2009 as its principal policy adviser on climate change and other environmental issues. Membership on the CEEPC includes representatives from MWCOG’s 22 member governments, state agencies, state legislatures, the Air and Climate Public Advisory Committee, federal agencies, utilities, environmental organizations, business organizations, and academics.

MWCOG’s Climate and Energy Program provides a roadmap and tools to communities seeking more sustainable options for growth and development and to help prepare the region for the risks ahead. The action plan sets goals and identifies implementation action for regional GHG emissions, built environment and infrastructure, renewable energy, transportation, land use, sustainability, resiliency and outreach. COG coordinates and trained regional leaders to assist with moving the region toward implementation.

A sample of initiatives includes:

  • 2010-2013: Climate impacts and adaptation project with EPA technical assistance.
  • 2013-2014: Building a climate resilient region project with NASA technical assistance.
  • 2010-present: Energy planning initiative that reported district energy potential in the region and support- ing microgrid
  • 2012-present: Energy assurance planning coordination that is leading to three 2015 energy security table- top training
  • 2010-present: Regional coordination of bulk solar procurement and community solarize programs.
  • 2014-present: Providing support and training for EcoDistrict and Smart Cities initiatives across the region.

Due to regional interest and need MWCOG is looking to expand efforts to further support the cross sector of cli- mate and economic resiliency.


  • A 2005 regional inventory shows the National Capital Region’s emission levels at 74 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. With expected population and job growth, the region’s man-made emission levels could increase 35% by
  • Average annual temperature and sea level in the Potomac River will continue to rise as will the increase of extreme
  • Changes in the number of hot days and cold days may affect energy usage patterns, health, plant and animal habitats and infrastructure


  • Creation of a regional innovation cluster of business incubators from across the region that includes Bethesda Green, the Port Towns EcoDistrict, an Emerging Technology Center in Alexandria, and several others. The work is being done by the Livability Project – a consulting firm with a mission to “build livable communi- ties based on the understanding that the environment, economy and community are all  ”
  • EcoDistricts are a new model of public-private partnership that emphasize innovation and deployment of district – scale best practices to create neighborhoods of the future – resilient, vibrant, resource efficient, and just. The National Capital Region has more than six communities in various stages of developing EcoDistricts, including the Port Towns EcoDistrict, the Southwest DC EcoDistrict (which will be heavily implemented by the new BID) and potentially Bethesda (where Bethesda Green’s green incubator would be a core project).
  • The Prince George’s County Redevelopment Authority’s (RDA) mission is the creation of a diverse and vibrant economy and living environment. The RDA has had several successes related to sustainable development including:
    • LEED Silver requirements for new
    • Working with Enterprise Community Partners, the RDA developed green rehabilitation standards for all neighborhood stabilization single family home rehabilitation. Since 2012, twenty three formerly vacant and abandoned homes have been acquired and rehabilitated under this new standard. As a result, homes rehabbed under the green standard are expected to be up to 30% more energy efficient than tradition construction
    • The RDA in partnership with a small, local developer, is building the county’s first net zero energy home to be completed in November
    • They are working on a large scale redevelopment project (20+ acres) incorporating principles from the EcoDistrict Protocol and the Sustainable Sites Initiative in order to promote neighborhood scaled and shared sustainable development practices.