(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Mayor Vincent C. Gray today announced the winners of the second annual Sustainable DC Innovation Challenge, a grant competition among District agencies to test forward-thinking sustainability initiatives. Four District agencies and other partnering agencies were on hand to accept funding for seven innovative projects.
This year, the Sustainable DC Innovation Challenge – part of the Mayor’s overall Sustainable DC initiative to make the District the nation’s greenest, healthiest, most sustainable city – awarded $2.35 million to cutting-edge projects that will help to reduce stormwater runoff, provide community greenhouse space, build “aquaponic” farms (where fish and plants are raised together), restore Oxon Run, and incubate new, local food businesses. The projects will also demonstrate how communities throughout the city can become directly involved in sustainability efforts.
“These Sustainable DC Innovation Challenge grants demonstrate that a dollar invested in sustainability can return multiple benefits for the city,” Mayor Gray said. “By building outdoor classrooms, urban farms and greenhouses, and green infrastructure for stormwater control we can help educate the next generation, increase access to healthy foods, expand job training and business opportunities, and ensure protection of our natural resources.”
The winners of the 2014 Sustainable DC Innovation Challenge and a description of their projects are:
- The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) was awarded $330,000 to build an outdoor classroom on the campus of the Hardy Middle School/Fillmore Arts Center in Ward 2. The classroom will support environmental and health education with hands-on examples of renewable energy, stormwater management, native-species planting, nutrition and urban agriculture. This permanent, 11,000-square-foot public facility will be constructed using sustainable materials and will serve as a model for other school-construction projects across the District.
- The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) was awarded $519,500 to establish and operate at least three aquaponic demonstration projects in Wards 3, 5, and 7 to breed fish and serve as a base for job-skills and entrepreneurship training for low-skilled and semi-skilled District residents. When combined with a small greenhouse, each facility is expected to generate 500 pounds of fish and 5,000 pounds of produce annually. UDC was also awarded $280,000 to establish a business-incubator kitchen in Ward 8 for food and nutrition education and job-skills and entrepreneurship training. This project includes a food truck to ensure healthy food reaches neighborhoods citywide. Additionally, UDC received $121,500 to construct a native plant nursery in Ward 5 to grow plants for habitat restoration following invasive plant management. The site will also serve as a host facility for education, outreach, and local green-jobs training. “This is a unique opportunity to see our sustainability education and research transform District neighborhoods,” said UDC Interim President Dr. James E. Lyons, Sr.
- The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) received $400,000 to install rain gardens and other low-impact development features to reduce stormwater pollution from streets surrounding Oxon Run Park in Ward 8. This stormwater runoff currently flows untreated into Oxon Run. These permanent stormwater-management facilities complement DDOT’s ongoing work to improve recreational trails along Oxon Run. “Oxon Run is a precious stream resource for the District,” said DDOT Director Terry Bellamy. “By improving green infrastructure upstream, we move one step closer to having fishable, swimmable rivers in the District of Columbia.”
- The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) was awarded $200,000 to rebuild two long-neglected DPR greenhouses in Wards 4 and 7 so that the community can have access to healthy food. The facilities will include publicly available greenhouse space and seedling production, cooperative management programming with non-profit organizations, and training opportunities (particularly for youth). “The imperative to ‘Be Green’ is at the core of DPR's mission,” said DPR Interim Director Dr. Sharia Shanklin. “This cooperative greenhouse initiative and partnerships with community non-profits will provide excellent opportunities for hands-on training in urban agriculture.” DPR was also awarded $492,000 to install a new “splash park” in Ward 7 that will capture rain water for reuse in the water feature and for irrigation of adjacent playing fields.
By taking immediate action to promote local economic development, community equity and opportunity, and environmental protection, the 2014 Sustainable DC Innovation Challenge projects will substantially advance the goals of the Sustainable DC Plan. For more information on the Sustainable DC Innovation Challenge, visit www.sustainabledc.org.
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