Washington, D.C. has an ambitious goal to become the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the United States by 2032. This vision is outlined in the Sustainable DC 2032 plan, which has goals ranging from job creation, to improving health, and combating climate change.
Some of the boldest infrastructure goals are related to energy and stormwater management. In less than two decades, the District aims to retrofit 100% of existing commercial and multi-family buildings to net-zero energy standards. And to relieve pressures on stormwater infrastructure, they plan to use 75% of the landscape to capture rainwater for filtration or reuse.
To realize their vision, the District has enacted innovative regulations. For example, the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) tightened stormwater regulations and created the first private market for trading stormwater retention credits. This program incentivizes owners to build green infrastructure, generate credits, and sell them on an open market to developers who can use them to comply with regulations.
These policies will reduce the District’s environmental footprint, raise quality of life for citizens, and make economic sense in a changing climate. Now it’s up to the engineering and business communities to deliver results while justifying the financial investment. So, how can the District translate their vision into making a sustainable city?
Washington, D.C.’s City Model
The Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID), the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), and Interface Engineering consultants envision a data-rich City Model, which captures all of the energy and water flows within the District, to help meet their goals. And they partnered with Autodesk’s Sustainability Solutions team to make it happen.
Bill Updike, Chief, Green Building & Climate Branch, DOEE explains, “We want to use the model to test multiple ‘what-if’ scenarios for policy changes, technology adoption, or behavior change. For example, how much energy will lighting retrofits save and which buildings should we target? How much stormwater runoff could we reduce if we implemented green infrastructure on the District scale?”
The District is looking for a “single source of truth” model that simulates the triple bottom line costs and benefits of infrastructure improvements. They want to share this model across agencies and eventually make it visible to the public. By measuring sustainability metrics within the model, DC can convince citizens of the value of planned green projects.
Autodesk’s InfraWorks 360 generated a model of the Downtown ecoDistrict that was used to:
- Detect which buildings are ready for retrofit and which systems to upgrade, using Rapid Energy Modeling
- Model green infrastructure at the site scale to calculate stormwater retention credits, and at the district scale to retain 100% stormwater, using Green Stormwater Infrastructure
- Calculate triple bottom line benefits of the National Mall Underground project, using AutoCASE
How does your city measure up?
Our partnership with the Downtown Business Improvement District helped Autodesk understand the challenges urban sustainability leaders face and guided development of the tools cities need to tackle them. Want to learn more about how your city can manage stormwater and make the business case for sustainability projects? Register today for a free webcast on November 3rd called Green Infrastructure and the Triple-Bottom-Line: New Tech for Sustainable City Design.
This article also appeared in the Sustainability Solutions community blog.