The Washington D.C. government has recently began incorporating Social Media 2.0 into its public outreach. Agencies have Facebook pages, some are on Twitter and officials have even taken to participating in online chats with the public.
I was very excited to learn that Councilmember Mary Cheh was conducting one of these online chats last Friday. Cheh is the chairperson of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment and very interested in the operation of the D.C. Green Building Act of 2006. You may recall that I spoke at a D.C. Public Hearing on Green Building that was convened by Councilmember Cheh. During the hearing, Cheh demanded accountability from those responsible for implementing the Act.
After reading the chat, I am optimistic about the future of green building regulations in the District:
1:37 [Comment From SG]
How can the DC government incentivize "green roofs" for private citizens to make it extremely cost-effective for average citizens and businesses to install?
1:41 Mary Cheh: We are moving to do just that. The RiverSmart program, by DDOE, provides grants for mitigation of storm water outflow at residential properties. It could be used for green roofs. Anyone interested should check out the DDOE website at ddoe.dc.gov. Unfortunately, at the moment, for our businesses, we don’t have much by way of incentives and we are relying more on a stick approach, which will make it more expensive for businesses if they fail to deal with water runoff. DDOE has a Business Outreach specialist who can offer advice on strategies for green roofs and other environmental initiatives.
Cheh’s comment that it is "unfortunate" that there are not more incentives for green roofs has me optimistic that Cheh also supports further incentives for green building development. The problem Cheh faces, of course, is that Washington, D.C. has very limited funds for incentive programs.
So here’s my proposed plan: the D.C. Feebate. Modeled after the Portland Feebate, D.C. could set up a separate green building fund. If a project fails to achieve LEED certification or equivalent, the project pays a fee into the city fund. If a project achieves LEED Certified or Silver certification, nothing happens. Here’s the kicker: if a project achieves LEED Gold or Platinum, the project will get a rebate back from the fund.
What do you think?