By adopting the Eco-City Charter in 2008 and the Environmental Action Plan (EAP) a year later, the City of Alexandria began its journey to become a more sustainable and healthier community. At the time, Alexandria was one of the first local governments in the United States to formally adopt an Eco-City Charter premised on principles of ecological sustainability. Developed through a transparent community process under the leadership of the Environmental Policy Commission (EPC) and the Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ), the Charter’s ten core principles are designed to serve as the overarching sustainability guide for policymakers, city staff, and local residents.
Since 2009, the mayor, members of the council, and city staff have been invited to speak about Eco-City Alexandria at statewide, regional and local conferences. The City has also won several environmental awards along with special recognition as a platinum level green local government (one of only nine municipalities) for 7 straight years by the Virginia Municipal League as part of their Go Green Virginia certification effort. In 2014, MyLife.com, a social aggregation site, ranked Alexandria the number one mid-sized green city among 189 other cities.
The EAP serves as the City’s everyday work plan to implement and achieve the vision and principles set forth in the Charter. The EAP consistent of 48 goals, 50 preliminary targets and 353 actions steps that span 20+ years. Over the course of the past 6 years city officials and staff, primarily led by OEQ and EPC, have accomplished many of the EAP’s short-term action steps despite fiscal and staffing constraints. For example, in 2010 OEQ and EPC shared its first annual EAP 2030 progress report and in 2012 established a set of 20 environmental indicators—one of the many action steps called for in the EAP 2030. Below we discuss a few EAP highlights by following the Action Plan’s 10 categories (which are based on the Eco-City Charter’s 10 sustainability principles).
By the Numbers—Highlights from OEQ’s 2014 Eco-City Progress Report
|Air Quality||four orange quality air days||zero red days for 2014 and 2013|
|City Government Green House Gas Emissions||35.6% reduction from 2006-14||Per capita reduction by 27.9% 2005-14|
|DASH ridership||9.2% increase since 2012|
|Installation of Stormwater BMPs||19.4% increase 2013&2014|
|Respiratory health complaints||56.6% reduction|
|Solid waste recycling rate||48.8% in 2013|
|City Electricity use||19% offset with renewable sources|
Click here for the full section of Accomplishments and Actions within the report.
 “Green Government Challenge,” Go Green Virginia, accessed July, 2015. http://www.gogreenva.org/?/green_government_challenge
 Many of the examples in this section are derived from OEQ’s 2014 Annual Eco-City/EAP Report as discussed in a city manager memorandum dated April 8th, 2015 from Mark B. Jinks, Acting City Manager, File #14-3835 and presented and accepted by the Mayor and City Council at their meeting on April 14th, 2015.