D.C. acknowledged nine local businesses, schools and individuals on Thursday night for their innovative spirit and demonstrated commitment to sustainability. The 2013 Sustainability Awards took place in the Great Hall and Mezzanine of the National Museum of Women in the Arts located in a historic building four blocks from the White House.
Over 200 people attended, including the award recipients, staffers from various D.C. agencies, and several federal and local officials.
D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton set the tone for the event when she said: “Government will not solve the sustainability crisis. It’s up to the people.”
Mayor Vincent C. Gray echoed a similar theme later in the evening.
The Sustainability Awards celebrate the winners of an annual competition that recognizes outstanding achievements in sustainability by D.C. businesses, schools, institutions and other organizations. It also serves as a marker for the city’s progress in making itself the greenest city in the country.
This year’s awards went to the youth-development organization Brainfood; the research hospital Children’s National Medical Center; Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Robert A. Jordan; real estate information company CoStar Group, Inc.; preservation groups Dumbarton House and the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America; home-based-garden consultant Meredith Shepherd and her company Love & Carrots; education institution Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School; real estate developer The Tower Companies; and energy retailer Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc.
“Without a doubt, sustainability is a highest level of priority for me,” Mayor Gray said.
In April 2012, Mayor Gray released a Sustainability Vision. That statement set broad sustainability goals to make D.C. the greenest, healthiest and most livable city by 2032. On February 20, 2013, after numerous rounds of citizen input, the Mayor issued an implementation plan.
Notwithstanding, or maybe because of, these recent statements, the Mayor spent surprisingly little time explaining how D.C. will proceed during the next year to ensure the city makes progress towards its broad sustainability goals.
He cited several recent achievements, such as a public-private partnership to build greenhouses in Ward 8. He alluded to the city’s commitment to take 143 actions pursuant to the sustainability implementation plan by April 2014. But he did not discuss them.
He mentioned only one concrete future action, revision of the city’s building code, an initiative the city undertook last year to make the code greener. The updated code is pending approval by the City Council, the Mayor said.
“D.C. is doing its part,” the Mayor said. But the “government acting alone would never be able to reach the goals [of the Sustainability Vision].” It will take private sector and community action, he said.