Eco City Alexandria-EAP 2015

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Links to Full Reports

Work Elements

Virginia Tech performed the following work during the first half of 2015 as part of the Environmental Action Plan update.

Scan of Existing City Efforts

VT participated in a series of individual and group meetings with City staff and EPC members to better understand recent City and community successes in achieving some of the EAP’s action steps. VT professor and students previewed upcoming work plans related to EAP goals and action steps and discussed how City officials and staff currently use the EAP (and Eco-City Charter) in making program and policy decisions. Several students also met with local sustainability organizations, such as the Alexandria Emerging Technology Center (AETC), a new green intermediary, and interviewed sustainability staff from other cities, such as the City of Charlottesville, VA; Dubuque, IA; the City of Santa Monica, CA; Evanston, IL; the City of Norfolk, VA and Richmond, VA.

Policy Brief Development

VT graduate students developed eight sustainability policy briefs that focused on topics covering multiple sustainability principles that have become pressing priorities confronting other cities and communities within the urban sustainability field. The policy briefs briefly discuss existing Alexandria City polices, plans, and programs, but also and equally important, offer the EPC and OEQ relevant examples from other communities that Alexandria could learn and adapt from. Students scanned current EAP policy and program actions and identified model practices from other cities within eight areas of focus.  Students presented their policy briefs at three EPC meetings hosted at Virginia Tech.

SWOT Analysis and Sustainability Gap Analysis:

As part of this final report, VT prepared a SWOT analysis that examines the Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats related to the EAP and the broader Eco-City Alexandria Initiative. This final report also discusses the feasibility of a sustainability gap analysis, curating the top ideas from the final student policy briefs recommendations, and offering suggestions about the format, process and content for updating the EAP.

Sustainability Impact Assessment:

Conducting a sustainability impact assessment would provide a new long-range tool that can determine how existing or proposed policy or program interventions might positively or negatively impact the city’s goals to become a healthier, sustainable and just community. When measured against baseline data such an assessment process could help the city more accurately set and achieve many of the longer range targets set forth in the current EAP.

Alexandria’s Planning Foundations 

Most of Alexandria’s recent planning efforts have focused on updating a few elements of its comprehensive plan (called the Master Plan) and revising its extensive network of Small Area Plans (SAP).  This section of the report analyzes Alexandria’s planning framework and offers several ideas and recommendations for potential actions the OEQ and EPC could take in collaboration with the City’s Planning Department and Planning Commission in order to leverage the core principles of sustainability that is found in the Charter and EAP.

Recommendations

The report pulls and synthesizes the more than 100 recommendations found in eight student policy briefs. Some of the recommendations are specific ideas the EPC and OEQ should consider for its 2016 update of the Environmental Action Plan (EAP) while others involve fundamental changes related to the broader Eco City Initiative.  Several of the recommendations are reframed from the student papers so they more closely align with Alexandria’s existing and especially future dynamics. The transformative recommendations are classified according to three criteria:  1) Cross Cutting Priorities; 2) Type of Action; and 3) Priority Level.

High Priority Actions

Transformative Recommendations