Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding the RiverSmart Homes program:
- Where in the District is the RiverSmart Homes program offered?
- Am I eligible for the RiverSmart Homes program?
- Is becoming a RiverSmart Home going to cost me money?
- How and when do I make a copayment for my RiverSmart Home feature?
- How does payment work for becoming a RiverSmart Home?
- Does becoming a RiverSmart Home impact my property tax assessment?
- How long does it take to become a RiverSmart Home?
- What is the process of becoming a RiverSmart Home?
- How can landscape firms or landscape designers get involved in RiverSmart Homes?
- Can homeowners use their own landscaper?
- What do I have to do after becoming a RiverSmart Home?
Where in the District is the RiverSmart Homes program offered?
The program is open to all of the District of Columbia.
Am I eligible for the RiverSmart Homes program?
If you own a home in the District, either as a resident or as a landlord, you are eligible to become a RiverSmart Home. Tenants must have their landlord’s consent to participate in the program. Homes that have already participated in the program may not be eligible for additional funding.
Note: Large property complexes such as apartments, condominiums, and offices are currently not eligible for the RiverSmart Homes program. Please visit RiverSmart Communities for program offerings for these types of large properties.
Is becoming a RiverSmart Home going to cost me money?
Homeowners make a copayment for each RiverSmart Homes feature installed on their properties. DOEE subsidizes the rest of the cost. The copayments are as follows:
Rain barrels = $50 or $70 per rain barrel, depending on barrel type (limit two)
Rain gardens = $75 per 50 sq. ft. of rain garden (limit two*)
BayScaping = $100 per 120 sq. ft. of BayScaping (limit two*)
*Properties that qualify are limited to a total of two landscaping features (i.e. rain garden and BayScaping) per property.
Permeable pavers and/or re-vegetation = DOEE provides $10/sq. ft. rebate for removing and replacing vegetation with permeable pavers and/or a $5/sq. ft. rebate for removing and replacing impervious surface with vegetation.
Shade trees are free! There is no copayment and no limit on # of trees per property.
How and when do I make a copayment for my RiverSmart Home feature?
Homeowners make copayments directly to the contractor installing their RiverSmart Home feature (shade trees, rain barrels, BayScaping, and rain gardens). The timeline for these copayments will vary by feature.
Note: Permeable pavers and re-vegetation are rebate only, so the homeowner pays the full cost of installation out of pocket and receives a rebate after the project is completed. For more information visit the Landscaping Rebate Program page.
Does becoming a RiverSmart Home impact my property tax assessment?
How long does it take to become a RiverSmart Home?
After an audit of your property (see below for audit details) is completed, contractors should complete work on your property within 6-8 months.
What is the process of becoming a RiverSmart Home?
Enroll in the RiverSmart Homes program either by calling DOEE at (202) 535-2252 or filling out the online application. See Steps to Become a RiverSmart Homeowner for more details.
How can landscaping firms or landscape designers get involved in RiverSmart Homes?
Landscapers must attend a one-day training to become eligible to install the RiverSmart landscapes (BayScapes and rain gardens). This free training is held each fall and spring and will include a classroom session in the morning with a hands-on component in the afternoon. Topics will include goals and purpose of RiverSmart Homes, design and placement of gardens, and administrative requirements. In the afternoon, participants will assist in a rain garden installation at a RiverSmart Homes site. Please email Arielle Conti to enroll in the next landscaper’s training.
Can homeowners use their own landscaper?
Yes. If homeowners have a landscaper they are currently working with and would like to use her/him to install a RiverSmart feature, the landscaper will need to attend the one-day training offered each fall and spring (see above). Please email Arielle Conti to enroll in the next landscaper’s training.
What do I have to do after becoming a RiverSmart Home?
RiverSmart homeowners are required to maintain their features while they own the property. Maintenance duties will vary depending on the type of installation but usually entail seasonal watering, weeding, mulching, and pruning. Landscaping practices only include plants and trees native to the Chesapeake Bay region, which means less watering and no fertilizer are necessary. Rain barrels will need to be emptied after major rain events and the filters cleared monthly. Permeable pavers will need to be swept or vacuumed regularly to prevent dirt from accumulating between the gaps and clogging.