Student Policy Briefs

EcoCityAlexandria_LogoSmallCropped_wwords

Throughout the 2015 spring semester, graduate students in the Sustainability Policy and Planning Class, with guidance from Professor Schilling: 1) Reviewed and assessed the Environmental Action Plan (EAP) within the context of the overall Eco-City Initiative and Charter; 2) Identified examples of sustainability policies and programs from other cities relevant to Alexandria, and 3) Made short and longer range recommendations to help guide the Environmental Policy Commission (EPC) on the update of the EAP. Each student focused on one of the following topics:

Sustainability Policy Briefs Student Researcher
Climate Change Preparation, Adaptation and Mitigation Zach Krohmal
Urban Greening (Urban Forestry, Open Space, Green Infrastructure) Allen Grace
LEED-ND and EcoDistricts Brigita Stavreva
Community Energy Planning and Green Building Policy Judith Johnson
Transportation, Housing and Land Use Adam Watson
Financing Sustainability Alan Cunningham
Sustainability Tracking, Indicators and Report Cards Jimena Pinzón
Sustainability Coordination, Communication and Outreach Chuck Egli

The policy brief topics reflect priority issues in the field of urban sustainability that have emerged since the adoption of the EAP in 2009; they also have special relevance for addressing pressing city and community priorities and have the potential for helping the city, EPC, and its partners move the Eco-City agenda forward. Some of these topics directly address principles, goals and action steps from the existing EAP (e.g. urban greening), as well as new and overarching themes in the field of urban sustainability (e.g. Financing the EAP, Sustainability Coordination, Communication and Outreach, and Sustainability Tracking, Indicators, and Report Cards).

The students assessed the existing EAP by reviewing its long range and short term actions, the Eco-City Charter as well as other relevant City documents (e.g. the city council’s Strategic Plan, master plans, Small Area Plans). City documents were obtained from the City’s website. Students also held several conversations with EPC members and City staff by phone and via email.

After the assessment, students identified relevant examples Alexandria can adopt and provided short-, medium-, and long-term recommendations for the City and EPC to consider for the next iteration o the EAP. Students identified relevant programs and policies through web searches, phone interviews with other cities’ staff as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The students used as a baseline the Compendium of Model Sustainability Practices, prepared by Virginia Tech students in 2008, as well as recommendations provided by EPC members and other City staff.

The results of this class exercise are summarized in the on-line abstracts and complete student briefs. Each of the 8 policy briefs ranges in length from roughly 15 to 35 pages.

Students also presented the results of their policy briefs at the April 4, April 18, and May 4, 2015, EPC meetings that were hosted at the National Capital Region Campus of Virginia Tech, located off of Prince Street in Old Town, Alexandria. EPC members and OEQ staff provided valuable feedback to the students about the scope, scale and framing of their policy briefs and recommendations to ensure they were more relevant to the City of Alexandria.