One year after becoming the first U.S. city to earn LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, D.C. is continuing to build on its green reputation with a strong push from its Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), Destination DC. This past week I spoke with Elliott Ferguson, Destination DC’s CEO and President, to learn more about why groups seeking destinations with green venues are choosing Washington, D.C.
Ferguson told me there are at least 15 LEED certified hotels in D.C. “A number of hotels are waiting to be LEED certified,” he said. There are 41 hotels within walking distance of the convention center, many of which are LEED certified or have green initiatives in place. The convention center is currently pursuing LEED certification. “They have a very ambitious sustainability program,” Ferguson said.
At Washington.org, a section of the site is dedicated to green meetings in Washington, D.C. There, one can access a guide to LEED certified hotels and venues, sustainable spaces for events, sustainable catering companies, and eco-friendly tours. The hotels and venues page features seven either LEED certified or soon to be certified properties. With each hotel there are highlights of its green initiatives. For example, the POD DC features refillable water stations throughout the hotel, a vegetated roof area for hosting events and smart LED lighting and air-conditioning. Once it opens, Eaton Workshop will feature natural and organic mattresses, bathroom amenities that are 100 percent natural, and rooftop features such as an herb garden and wind turbine.
“We do focus on knowing what hotels are LEED certified,” Ferguson said. “The customer wants to know the level of social responsibility.”
“When I started this role in January, I made it a priority of mine to create a sustainable section for the meetings portion of our website, so meeting planners could reference and explore all of the sustainable initiatives throughout the nation’s capital,” added Rebecca Doser, Media Relations Manager, Trade, Destination DC.
All City Buildings Powered by Renewable Energy
Positioning Washington, D.C. as a green meetings destination makes sense given the city’s strong commitment to sustainability. The District was selected for a 2017 C40 Cities4Tomorrow award for its Climate Ready DC plan, which establishes a long-term commitment to climate resiliency that will impact the city’s transportation, buildings, neighborhood design, and policy structure. Clean Energy DC is the District’s plan to achieve the Sustainable DC target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2032. Mayor Bowser’s administration is in the process of outlining “Sustainable DC 2.0” by hosting open houses, community conversations and focus groups to understand how the community wants the Department of Energy and Environment to shape the District’s plan update. According to Ferguson, 100 percent of city buildings are powered by renewable energy.
Since becoming the first LEED Platinum city, two other U.S. cities have earned the designation—Phoenix and Arlington, Va. Becoming a LEED Platinum city is not easy. It focuses on outcomes from ongoing sustainability efforts across an array of metrics, including energy, water, waste, transportation, and human experience (which includes education, prosperity, equity and health & safety). LEED for Cities projects benchmark and track performance using Arc, a state-of-the-art digital platform that uses data to provide greater transparency into sustainability efforts and helps cities make more informed decisions.
Congrats to Washington, D.C., its DMO and the many other organizations and businesses involved for putting together a broad-based array of initiatives that are making D.C. a greener place to visit and live.
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