Washington, DC is the first U.S. city to join the BreatheLife network, building on a long history of environmental action and leadership.
Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the partnership on September 22, saying, “As Mayor of our nation’s capital, I have a special obligation to protect our environment for generations to come and to create policies and programs that reflect the values of the residents I serve. In just two and a half years, we have launched Climate Ready DC, entered into one of the largest municipal onsite solar projects in the U.S., and completed the largest wind power purchase agreement deal of its kind ever entered into by an American city. Today, I am proud to build on this progress by officially announcing the District’s designation as a BreatheLife city.”
The District’s core strategy for cleaner air is outlined in the Clean Energy DC plan, a follow up to Climate Ready DC. Clean Energy DC is an ambitious vision for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2032 and 80 percent by 2080. The bold plan positions the District as a global leader in fighting climate change; it also offers a roadmap to cleaner air and healthier citizens.
While the vision is bold, the plan for achieving it is pragmatic and action-oriented. The Clean Energy DC Plan identifies three major areas of focus in reducing emissions and pollution: buildings, transportation and energy supply.
The 55-point plan outlines targets and actions for these three areas. These actions include:
Implementing a net-zero energy building code, and advancing this goal through financial incentives, education and training
Retrofitting 1 in 5 existing buildings, reducing their energy use by around 30 percent and reducing overall GHG emissions by 6.6 percent
Encouraging private vehicle owners and ride-share fleets to shift toward energy-efficient and zero-emission vehicles
Building out the electric vehicle infrastructure with more charging stations and improved accessibility
Developing neighborhood-scale strategies for adding solar
Modernizing and updating the electricity system and power grid to include a larger portion of renewable energy
For more than 20 years, the District has been working to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) health-based standards for six major air pollutants. With leadership from DC’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), DC has achieved EPA-recommended levels for five of the pollutants and is close to reaching the standard for the sixth pollutant, ground-level ozone.
“We’re excited about joining the BreatheLife campaign because it will increase the District’s ability to exchange ideas and strategies on air pollution and climate change with cities throughout the world,” says Tommy Wells, DOEE Director.