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Archive for April, 2014


Electronic Waste & Economic Development in DC

Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 11:57:46 AM EST

By Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

DCEN Invites All Metro-Based Environmentalists and Others to a Brown-Bag Discussion, Strategy Session & Networking Opportunity!

E-WASTE Brown Bag Graphic w No Background

Dealing with electronic waste is becoming a big challenge locally AND globally:

“In the United States, 3 million tons of e-waste (computers, printers, phones, cameras, televisions, refrigerators, etc.) is produced every year. Globally, e-waste generation is growing by 40 million tons per year. This is equivalent to filling around 15,000 football fields six feet deep with waste! As unimaginable huge as this figure already is, it is increasing at an alarming rate.”Sophie Vos, “Electronic Waste Disposal”, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment

On May 1st at Noon, join the DC Environmental Network for a special briefing and strategy session on how we can use electronic waste (e-scrap) in the District to create jobs and expand economic opportunities. Panelists and participants will discuss these possibilities at the offices of the DC Environmental Network, 1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor.

Sign me up! I want to help strategize about how the District could be a leader on electronic waste issues.


Last year around 137 tons of e-scrap was dropped off at District Department of Public Works (DPW) Fort Totten drop off site. It is estimated that there is over 1000 tons of e-scrap generated in the District annually. The Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) has suggested that this material, if managed properly, could add greatly to the local economy in terms of revenue, jobs training and well-paying careers for District residents.

e-waste-photoA number of local jurisdictions across the country are benefiting financially from programs that pull out the value of e-scrap by sale of unprocessed materials; deconstruction and sale of metals; sale of refurbished computers; and other creative programs. Some of the more creative e-scrap initiatives have resulted in the creation of good jobs with benefits.

Currently the DC Council is considering a bill, the “Waste Management Modernization Act of 2014” to overhaul some of the city’s various waste policies.

This bill was introduced by Councilmember’s Cheh & McDuffie and co-sponsored by Councilmember’s Mendelson, Bonds & Graham.

Among a number of things this legislation calls for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) or requiring industry to take responsibility for their products and packages post-consumer use. Although this may be better than nothing, the District may be giving up the opportunity to maximize the economic value of e-scrap in the District.

ILSR is recommending that that the Committee on Transportation and the Environment eliminate the section of the waste management bill that calls for industry to take responsibility for e-scrap.

Instead, ILSR recommends the section call for a 6-month evaluation of EPR approaches available to the city, with specific recommendations. The legislation should establish an advisory committee representing community, youth (and other) employment, environmental, industry and government regulators to review policies in other jurisdictions and recommend policies for the District. ILSR also recommends an economic impact assessment should be required for any policy to determine which approach to e-scrap EPR maximizes economic development.

The DC Environmental Network supports this approach and believes the current waste modernization legislation is a good tool to thoughtfully move this proposal.

This approach could help the District move forward in a visionary and substantive manner consistent with the meaning of true sustainability.

RSVP here and help us map out a visionary new program in the District.

All are welcome.



Mayor Gray’s Sustainable DC Earth Day Event!

Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 10:09:15 AM EST


By Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

DDOE SDC One Year Report 2014 No Background

DC Environmental Network:

On September 23rd, 2011, almost three years ago, the DC Environmental Network held the first of many forums, conference calls and strategy sessions to advocate for and assist in the direction and design of Mayor Gray’s Sustainable DC initiative. Former District Department of the Environment (DDOE) Director Christophe Tulou and Former Office of Planning (OP) Director Harriet Tregoning shared Mayor Gray’s plan to make sustainability a cornerstone of District efforts.

On Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22nd, Mayor Gray will be presenting a special first year progress report on the implementation stage of Sustainable DC. This event will be held at the Langley Education Campus, 101 T Street NE, from 6:00 PM until 8:30 PM.

Let us know you are coming! We want to make sure there is a good turnout!

There are many reasons why the DC environmental community should participate in this Earth Day event:

  • DSC_0032-001b5NEW MAYOR IN 2015: Mayor Gray will not be Mayor in 2015 and it is not clear that the current candidates for this office will support a sustainability plan for the District. The environmental community needs a strong showing at this first year progress report and other sustainability focused events over the next 8 months to make it clear to decision makers that we want to make real progress on Sustainable DC now and after the Gray Administration leaves office.
  • LOT’S OF WORK TO DO: Our work has just begun. We all need to work hard to accelerate progress to clean up our rivers; reduce carbon emissions; develop a meaningful zero waste plan that does not include incineration; and continue to pressure our elected officials to promote sustainability principles with every decision that is made.
  • SUPPORT OUR COLLEAGUES: A number of our colleagues in the environmental community will be making pitches on how you can get involved in their good work. These groups include the Anacostia Watershed Society, Capital Area Food Bank, Casey Trees, DC SUN, DC Sustainable Energy Utility, Groundwork Anacostia DC, Neighborhood Farm Initiative and Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

Let us know you are coming! We want to make sure there is a good turnout!

The DC Environmental Network will soon be announcing additional opportunities to discuss and strategize how to both strengthen and continue to move sustainability efforts forward in DC.

Happy Earth Day and hope to see you next Tuesday at 6:00 PM!

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network


Joint DCEN, DDOE, DCFPI Budget Briefing!

Sun Apr 06, 2014 at 06:52:13 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

The DC Environmental Network (DCEN), DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) and District Department of the Environment (DDOE) invite you to a special DDOE budget briefing.

DDOE Budget Briefing w No Background

On April 8th, from 1:30 PM until 3:00 PM, join the DC Environmental Network (DCEN) for a briefing on the District Department of the Environment’s fiscal year 2015 budget that was submitted by Mayor Vincent Gray to the DC Council on April 3rd.

Participants will have an opportunity to learn about their priority programs and use the information to prepare for the DC Council DDOE budget hearing scheduled for April 11th.

This DDOE, DCEN, DCFPI sponsored budget briefing will  be held at the offices of the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), 1200 First Street NE, Fifth Floor.

RSVP HERE to let us know you are coming!


Every spring, the Mayor submits the proposed budget and financial plan and Council committees review the request for each of the agencies under their purview.  Agencies are questioned about their budget and public hearings are held to receive testimony from the agencies, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, other organizations, the advocacy community, and private citizens.  Each committee’s chairperson then prepares a budget report that is presented to the full committee for markup and approval.  The reports include recommendations for funding and personnel levels for each agency, policy proposals, and any appropriation language changes.  The reports also identify additional budget needs, legislation required to implement the committee’s recommendations, and any other budget-related analysis that the committees deem appropriate.

You can see a general overview of the process here:

What does DDOE do?

[DDOE WEBSITE] “The District Department of the Environment (DDOE) is the leading authority on energy and environmental issues affecting the District of Columbia. Using a combination of regulations, outreach, education, and incentives, our agency administers programs and services to fulfill our mission. We work collaboratively with other government agencies, residents, businesses, and institutions to promote environmentally responsible behavior that will lead to a more sustainable urban environment.

DDOE has about 300 engineers, biologists, toxicologists, geologists, technicians, inspectors, environmental specialists, policy analysts, administrators, public outreach specialists, and support staff. Among their many responsibilities are issuing permits, monitoring environmental conditions, providing funding and technical assistance, assessing environmental risks, developing policies, inspecting facilities, enforcing environmental regulations, working with other entities to solve every-day environmental issues, and informing and educating the public on local environmental trends and their benefits.

The DDOE team promotes public and environmental health by implementing and enforcing District and Federal laws and regulations. We recognize that strong and healthy communities are central to the District’s economic prosperity, and work daily to protect the environment in which its people live, work and play.

DDOE Mission:

The mission of the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) is to improve the quality of life for the residents and natural inhabitants of the nation’s capital by protecting and restoring the environment, conserving our natural resources, mitigating pollution, and educating the public on ways to secure a sustainable future.”

RSVP HERE to let us know you are coming!

All are welcome.


Energy Benchmarking & Climate Change

Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 10:18:21 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

DCEN Invites All Metro-Based Environmentalists and to a Brown-Bag Discussion & Networking Opportunity!

Benchmarking Brown Bag TITLE GRAPHIC w No Background

On April 9th at Noon, join the DC Environmental Network for a special climate education opportunity. By far the largest share of the District’s community wide Green House Gas (GHG) emissions (74%) is attributed to building energy use. Building benchmarking, or tracking a building’s energy performance, is a critical part of developing a meaningful plan for reducing carbon emissions.

Join us to learn more about this important part of the climate puzzle and what you can do to help. This briefing will be held on April 9th, 12:00-1:30 PM, at the offices of DCEN/Global Green USA, 1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor, Washington, DC.

Our Panelists:

Taresa Lawrence, Deputy Director for the Energy Administration in the District Department of the Environment (DDOE)
Cliff Majersik, Executive Director of the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT)
Sam Brooks, Associate Director of the Energy Division for the Department of the General Services (DC DGS)
Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network (Moderator)

All are welcome to come learn more about the connection between benchmarking and curbing carbon emissions in the District of Columbia. RSVP Here!


Building benchmarking is the process of tracking a building’s energy and water performance and comparing that current performance to its historical performance, a group of peer buildings’ performance, or a national average.  It’s the foundation of a successful energy management strategy—as the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Nine cities and two states, including Washington, DC, require their large commercial buildings to benchmark and disclose their energy performance—these laws affect 51,000 buildings and 5.8 billion square feet nationwide. They aim to catalyze markets and inform decision makers by making energy data more transparent. DC itself has a policy that covers 1800 buildings and just over half of the total building square footage in the District. The District Department of the Environment (DDOE) has released a rich data set of the first year of private building results earlier this year.  The upcoming panel will focus on the District’s benchmarking law and how it’s making the city, building owners, and other stakeholders smarter about their energy use.

US Benchmark Comparison MAP

Figure 1. Displayed above is a geographical representation of the current existing benchmarking policies. The 2 states and 9 cities that require private building benchmarking are: California, Washington, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis, Chicago, DC, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.

US Benchmark ComparisonFigure 2. This table provides greater detail on the specifics of the private building benchmarking policies of the 2 states and 9 cities. The building sector coverage, type of disclosure, and first reporting date are a few of key fields in this table.

To benchmark, building owners need 12 consecutive months of whole-building utility data—this is often difficult to get, especially in separately metered buildings. The panel will also highlight barriers to benchmarking and recent efforts by the utilities and City Council to improve the benchmarking law and make it easier for building owners to comply.

Opportunity to Take Action to Combat Global Warming:

The City Council will be holding a roundtable on the current benchmarking law and regulation to discuss the current state of compliance and what market transformation potential is already being realized after two years of reporting. We encourage those who wish to support this impactful law or learn more about the information that this law makes available to attend the City Council’s roundtable on April 3rd. You can sign up by emailing The roundtable notice can be found here.

All are welcome to come learn more about the connection between benchmarking and curbing carbon emissions in the District of Columbia. RSVP Here!


Delivering Effective Climate Communications!

Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 10:13:21 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

On April 9th, Join DCEN for an Interactive Presentation by Scientist-Turned-Filmmaker Randy Olson on Developing and Delivering Effective Communications.

DSC_0044bThe DC Environmental Network is a participant in the DC Climate and Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP) focused on educating the community about climate change. CUSP will, through a constellation of partners, help people address the short-term and long-term impacts of climate change on the District by working to reduce the city’s overall greenhouse gas emissions and preparing the city to adapt to direct and indirect changes that will likely impact District residents.

The National Geographic Society, who spearhead this initiative, have put together a special interactive presentation that will help us develop better climate focused communications skills.

Scientist-turned-filmmaker, Randy Olson, will share an interactive presentation entitled, The CONNECTION Storymaker Model for Broad Communication. This presentation is scheduled for April 9th, 8:30-10:30 AM at the offices of the National Geographic Society, Gilbert H. Grosvenor Auditorium, 1600 M Street, NW.

All are welcome. RSVP Here!


Randy Olson, a marine biologist-turned-filmmaker and author of Don’t be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style, will be speaking at National Geographic about how to effectively develop and deliver effective communications for campaigns.

Randy Olson was a humble, mild-mannered professor of marine biology at the University of New Hampshire. But then his brain sort of turned inside out and he shifted from scientist to artist. It happened in his first year as a professor. He hit a point where he realized that after fifteen years of telling stories OF science he had grown more interested in telling stories ABOUT science. Despite his Harvard Ph.D., four years of post-doctoral research in Australia and Florida, and years of diving around the world from the Great Barrier Reef to Antarctica, he tossed it all in, resigned from his tenured professorship and moved to Hollywood to explore film as a medium for communicating science.

Olson invitation_2

Today he is an INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER and no longer considers himself a scientist, but is now fluent in the two languages of science and cinema. In addition to writing and directing his own feature films about major issues in science, he has worked with a variety of clients to assist them with the use of visual media in communicating science to the general public. Through his writings he has both related his journey, and continues his exploration into the role of storytelling in the mass communication of science.

All are welcome! RSVP Here!