Tag Archives: sustainability

Climate & Energy, Environment, Transportation

Stat (Figure) of the Week: 18 Local Governments have Policies Related to Green Streets

On Wednesday, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) adopted a regional Green Streets Policy, which encourages efforts by area governments to improve the region’s water quality and environment by making roadways and streetscapes more sustainable. The policy notes a green street “uses trees, landscaping, and related environmental site design features to capture and […]

Climate & Energy, Economy

Leaders Work to Spur Investments in Building Energy Efficiency to Create Jobs & Fight Climate Change

Financing energy retrofits has been a major focus of area leaders on the Council of Governments’ climate and energy committee since retrofit projects create jobs, increase energy efficiency, and fight climate change. Retrofit projects have also been of great interest to former President Bill Clinton, which is why he joined AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other […]

Climate & Energy, Environment

Partnerships Bring Cleaner, More Efficient Engines to Local Businesses

Diesel engines, especially older ones, generate a lot of pollutants. That black smoke you see pumping out of trucks, buses, and boats produces major negative effects on human health, the environment, the climate, and exacerbate environmental injustice. To ameliorate these effects, Congress passed the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) in 2005. The legislation was reauthorized […]

Environment

Maryland Passes Landmark Forest Legislation

Steven Koehn, Director/State Forester at Maryland DNR Forest Service, Co-Chair American Forest Foundation (AFF) Woodlands Operating Committee and member, AFF Board of Trustees Maryland’s General Assembly recently passed the Forest Preservation Act of 2013, which now awaits the Governor’s signature. As a result of former iterations of this bill, the Department of Natural Resources and […]

Climate & Energy

Local, State Innovations Provide Way to Meet Climate Goals

As frustrating as Congress’ unwillingness to take serious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may be, additional legislation may not even be necessary to achieve the country’s climate mitigation goals. That was one of the key points stressed during a recent panel discussion with climate experts from the Georgetown Climate Center, Brookings and local elected […]

Land Use

Frederick County’s Activity Centers in the Spotlight

A recent article in the Frederick News Post highlights the County’s Activity Centers and discusses in great detail how concentrating growth and development in these mixed-use places will benefit Frederick’s economy, improve the County’s quality of life, and preserve its agriculture, all while accommodating more residents. With its population of 233,000 expected to grow to […]

Climate & Energy

Sustainable DC: A Major Advance in Moving the Region Forward

Laine Cidlowski, AICP, Urban Sustainability Planner, and Tanya Stern, Chief of Staff, DC Office of Planning On February 20, Mayor Vincent C. Gray released what is being lauded as one of the nation’s most ambitious plans to improve quality of life in the Washington Metro region. The Sustainable DC Plan establishes a bold vision to make […]

Coalition Work

The Region Forward Coalition: Looking Back and Moving Forward

2012 was busy for the Region Forward Coalition, with several key projects being completed, such as the first Region Forward Progress Report and an updated Activity Centers map outlining priority growth areas for the region. Completing the Region Forward “Baseline” Progress Report One of the first projects the Coalition undertook was the Baseline Progress Report. […]

Climate & Energy

Regional Investment in Energy Efficiency: Good for the Economy and the Environment

Nicole Steele, Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy & Julia Allman, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments It’s long been said that the cleanest, cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use. And consuming less energy doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort or holding back economic growth. On the contrary, when we improve our energy productivity we […]

Environment

Progress Versus Tiny Pollutants Shows Big Improvement in Region’s Air Quality

In 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said our region was not meeting its fine particle (PM 2.5) pollution standards. This meant pollution levels were too high and that area leaders, through COG’s Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee, needed to devise a plan to clean the air. Fast forward to 2013 and after a lot […]

Land Use

With the Region Nearing 7 Million People in 2040, Land Use & Transportation Coordination Matters More Than Ever

New forecasts released yesterday show metropolitan Washington’s population growing by more than 30% over the next few decades, reaching nearly seven million by 2040. How we handle that growth – at 1.6 million additional people, it’s like adding the city of Philadelphia to our region – is going to be critical in determining whether metropolitan […]

Energy

Scaling Up Electric Vehicles in Metropolitan Washington

Metropolitan Washington regularly finds itself at or near the top of a lot of lists. Some of these distinctions are good, such as being the most educated region in the country, and some of them are bad, such as being one of the most expensive places to live. Unfortunately, “most electric vehicles” is not a […]

Transportation

Alternatives to drive-alone commuting to see higher % increase in number of trips, commute share

Between now and 2040, the share of people in metropolitan Washington who drive alone to and from work each day is expected to fall while the share of people who choose to carpool, bicycle, or walk to work will increase, according to the results of the Transportation Planning Board’s latest travel forecasts. The share of people who take transit is expected to remain roughly the same.

In all, the TPB’s travel models predict more than a million more daily commute trips by 2040 based on anticipated growth between now and then. Projections from the Council of Governments say the region’s population will grow by 24% — to more than 6.4 million people — and that employment will grow by 36% — to almost 4.4 million jobs.

Most of the new commute trips that are expected — about 450,000 — will be made by solo drivers, according to the forecasts. Carpool trips will increase by about 240,000 per day, as will those by transit. Almost 80,000 of the new trips will be made by bicycle or on foot.

Today, 61% of all commute trips in the region are made by solo drivers. By 2040, that number is expected to fall to 57%.

The share of trips by carpool, on the other hand, will increase from 11% to 14%, while the share of trips by bicycle or on foot will increase from 4% to 5%. About 28% of trips to and from work in 2040 will be by transit, the same as today.

These shifts, although they appear to be slight, are an important reflection of emerging trends in how people are likely to choose how to get around the region in the future.

The TPB’s travel forecasting models take into account a wide range of assumptions about the relative availability and attractiveness of various travel options in predicting what modes people will choose.

Among other things, the models take into account trip costs and travel time, which include things like transit fares, fuel prieces, parking costs, and tolls, as well as time spent not only traveling but also parking one’s car, waiting for buses or trains, transferring between lines, or walking to one’s final destination.

Over the next thirty years, the relative availability and attractiveness of different travel modes are expected to change, and those changes are expected to vary throughout the region.

The TPB’s forecasts show that in the regional core, for example, which includes the District of Columbia, Arlington County, and the City of Alexandria, the share of people taking transit to and from work is expected to decrease slightly, from 58% to 56%. Meanwhile, the share of people bicycling or walking to work is forecast to rise from 13% to 15%. More housing planned within walking distance of job centers and improvements to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are expected to drive such shifts.

In the region’s inner suburban jurisdictions — Fairfax, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties — more than 400,000 more commute trips are expected by 2040, compared to today. The share of trips by solo drivers will fall from 63% to 61%, while small increases in the share of trips by transit, bicycling, and walking are expected. The travel models predict that the opening of the Silver Line in Virginia and the Purple Line in Maryland, along with the new mixed-use development they are likely to spur, will contribute to such shifts.

Farther out, in Frederick, Charles, Prince William, and Loudoun counties, new transit options like the Silver Line, increasing highway congestion, and new high-occupancy toll lanes are expected to encourage a greater share of people to commute by transit, carpooling, and bicycling and walking. The share of commute trips made by solo drivers is forecast to fall from 79% to 70% in these areas over the next 30 years, while the share of trips by carpool will increase from 15% to 20% and the share of trips by transit will increase from 5% to 9%.

As the region continues to grow, and as its transportation system continues to evolve, the modes of travel people choose to get to and from work will change based on the relative availability and attractiveness of various options. Planners and decision-makers can encourage further shifts by taking steps to make desired modes more available and more attractive to potential travelers.

The TPB Weekly Report is a regular feature on The Yardstick and is designed to provide brief, timely summaries of recent research, analysis, outreach, and planning by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB). Follow the TPB on Facebookand Twitter.

Land Use

Activity Centers: Where Metropolitan Washington is Growing

Regional leaders voted today to approve an updated set of Activity Centers for metropolitan Washington.* These 139 Centers include existing urban centers, traditional towns, transit hubs, as well as areas expecting future growth.

Scroll below the text to see an ABC 7 video clip and additional media coverage of the decision.

For example, Georgetown is a vibrant, walkable place already built-out with a strong mix of housing and businesses. Activity Centers also include locations as diverse as NoMa, Clarendon, downtown Frederick, and Silver Spring where major growth is expected to occur over the next several decades and where investments should be prioritized.

While the Centers vary in scale and type, the basic concept behind them is the same: concentrate development in areas that will have the planning and infrastructure in place to support it. By focusing growth in Activity Centers, the region will improve connections between housing and jobs, reduce environmental impact, and make a better use of limited funds.

The Centers will also promote development around area transit such as Silver Line Metro stations in Northern Virginia and Green Line Metro stations in Prince George’s County, Maryland. About two-thirds of Centers are or will be served by the region’s existing or future rail transit network.

The goal for this latest update was to make the Centers more broadly useful. To do so, more targeted and specific criteria were used to designate than in 2007, the last time the Council of Governments approved a set of Activity Centers. The criteria are primarily based on Region Forward, COG’s vision for a more accessible, sustainable, livable, and prosperous metropolitan Washington.

The Council of Governments views Activity Centers as the next generation of metropolitan Washington’s growth and development. The office park model of development, based on low-density sprawl, is obsolete. That is why leaders in the region are working to focus future growth – which is estimated to bring over a million more people to the region in the next few decades – in mixed-use Activity Centers.

The Activity Centers map update is a necessary step in the development of an upcoming Strategic Investment Plan currently underway by COG’s Region Forward Coalition. By pointing out the specific elements (i.e., sidewalks, ground-level retail, fresh food, parks) that each Center is lacking or could improve upon, the Investment Plan will help local governments determine how best to use limited resources.

The Activity Centers Strategic Investment Plan will be released later this year and is a key component of Economy Forward, COG’s plan to prepare metropolitan Washington for a future with reduced federal spending and employment.

*Post updated to reflect the Council’s vote to approve the Activity Centers and to include additional information.

ABC 7: ‘NOMA,’ Clarendon, Silver Spring to see huge growth, study says

DCist: Regional Group Outlines 139 Activity Centers Where Growth is Expected in Future

WTOP: Planners ID neighborhoods for targeted development

WAMU: Planners: Regional Job Growth Should Focus on Activity Centers

Environment

Report highlights region’s agriculture and challenges for the future

Known as home to the federal government, major defense contractors, biotech firms, and universities, it may come as a surprise that agriculture also plays a major role in metropolitan Washington’s land use and economy.

About 28% of the region’s land area is dedicated to agriculture and the industry contributes approximately $1 billion to the metropolitan Washington economy every year. Agricultural production is also quite varied, ranging from tomatoes and potatoes to beef and beans.

Despite its size and diversity, however, the region’s agriculture is not meeting local food demands. And with more than a million people expected to move to this already rapidly-growing region in the next few decades, the situation is likely only going to get worse without significant policy changes. That’s the message behind a new Council of Governments report, What Our Region Grows.

The report, still in draft form, highlights the region’s current agricultural production as well as the gaps between current production and what’s needed to meet local demand. We’ll cover the report in more detail once it’s finalized, but the draft version – complete with charts and graphs – makes for interesting reading during the holidays.