It's Springtime in DowntownDC!

Monday, March 14, 2016

By Scott Pomeroy

Springtime has arrived in downtown as temperatures rise, flowers begin to bloom and leaves emerge in the parks, tree boxes and green roofs that make up DowntownDC's growing green infrastructure, and the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID), with partners, is preparing beautification and greening efforts Downtown this season.  

Through partnerships with the District government, the National Park Service and building and property owners, the DowntownDC BID participates in several beautification projects. This spring, yellow lilies will adorn the New York Avenue medians, the BID's ambassadors will be hanging flower baskets in public spaces including McPherson Square park and in front of select buildings, and the BID will be working with partners and contractors to maintain and improve green spaces in Freedom Plaza, Pershing Park, Franklin Park and Herald Square. Flower baskets highlight buildings that have agreed to provide care and watering for these plants. 

But green infrastructure isn’t just beautiful flowers, it plays a major role as a natural balance for our urban ecosystem. Rain gardens help to keep pollutants out of our waterways and trees serve as natural air conditioners, providing shade and filtering out pollutants.

On March 23, at the 2016 Kick-off event for the Smarter DC Challenge, The Future of Water: Sustainability Stewardship and Leadership,  George Hawkins, the visionary CEO of DC Water will be discussing the recent federal court ruling that permits DC Water to choose not to invest in a retention tunnel to address the combined sewer overflow issues facing the Potomac River and Rock Creek. Instead, DC Water can invest in new, healthier green infrastructure approaches such as green roofs, porous pavement and rain gardens that can earn storm water credits under the new Department of Energy and Environment ( DOEE) program and benefit everyone in the District.

Joining Hawkins will be Bill Updike, Chief, Green Building & Climate Branch, DOEE, who will be outlining the opportunities, strategies and solutions you can leverage at your building to more sustainably manage and conserve water in your workplace and how you can earn points as a participant in the Smarter DC Challenge.

The event, being held at Georgetown University’s Continuing Education Center in DowntownDC, will also celebrate and congratulate the leaders of the Smarter DC Challenge. These organizations are leading the way in making the District the most sustainable city in the United States as called for by the Sustainable DC Plan. Year two of the Challenge will be focusing on office buildings and office-based organizations and the hospitality sector–hotels, restaurants, caterers and more. Come out to the event and learn how your organization earn points and participate in activities that will make the District healthier and more sustainable.

Register here for The Future of Water: Sustainability Stewardship and Leadership. 

Other healthy and sustainable springtime activities you can participate in include:

  • Join a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) at your office that will deliver directly to your workplace, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions by sourcing local food. Or, you can join as an individual and pickup your fresh fruits and vegetables at the FRESHFARM Farmers Markets in DowntownDC when they open on:

-April 2– every Thursday from 3pm-7pm in Penn Quarter

-April 9– every Thursday from 11am-2pm near the White House 

-May 5– every Tuesday from 11am-2pm at CityCenterDC

  • Volunteer for the 28th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup from March 26 – May 8. Coordinated by the Alice Ferguson Foundation, last year, over 20,000 volunteers removed over 1 million pounds of trash from the Potomac River Watershed. There are hundreds of locations from which to choose throughout MD, DC, VA, WV and PA areas. Visit:
  • Register to adopt a street tree and become a Canopy Keeper. New trees planted near your property need your assistance to survive.  View this season's planting map. Residents and businesses are responsible for maintaining newly planted trees. The District Department of Transportation's Urban Forestry Administration can help by delivering a free slow-drip watering device. Submit the Canopy Keeper Application by selecting the “submit” button found at the bottom of the form.