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Chapter 4 - DDOT Sustainability Plan

Sustainability Plan - burlap sack with the word 'sustainable' printed on it, in green

DDOT’s mission is to “Develop and maintain a cohesive, sustainable transportation system that delivers safe, affordable and convenient ways to move people and goods — while protecting and enhancing the natural, environmental and cultural resources of the District.” For DDOT, sustainable transportation is a transportation system that provides its users with various mode choices in a balanced manner without compromising their safety, accessibility, and mobility while supporting the economy, promoting livability and protecting the environment.

  • Improving DDOT Operations and Project Development
  • Improving Mode Choices, Accessibility and Mobility
  • Structure of the Sustainability Plan

Purpose of the DDOT Sustainability Plan

The DDOT Sustainability Plan is based on the DDOT mission and Action Agenda. The purpose of the DDOT Sustainability Plan is to ensure that DDOT incorporates sustainable practices in all its activities. This plan serves as a guide for decision-making at DDOT so that the District of Columbia remains a safe, multi-modal and healthy city for present and future generations.

Review and Monitoring

This Sustainability Plan represents an important step in embedding sustainability in all DDOT activities. As discussed throughout this plan, sustainability is built upon three elements: Environment, Social Structure and Economy. In order to incorporate these three elements of sustainability into its activities, DDOT has identified eight priority areas, which will enable the agency to ensure that the District of Columbia remains a healthy and prosperous city.

The eight priority areas are:

  1. Promoting Transportation and Land Use Linkage
  2. Improving Mode Choices, Accessibility and Mobility
  3. Effective Cost Assessments in Decision-Making
  4. Supporting Economy
  5. Improving DDOT Operations and Project Development Process
  6. Protecting the Environment and Conserving Resources
  7. Climate Change Adaptation
  8. Promoting Livability and Safety

Each of the above priorities are accompanied by certain goals and recommended actions. Each action also has a specific measure and target that includes a timeframe for achieving the target. These measures and targets will be expounded upon later in this chapter.

Training and Communications

The DDOT Sustainability Coordinator will be responsible for ensuring that sustainability-related training needs have been identified for all DDOT personnel. DDOT senior management will assure that sufficient support and resources are available to DDOT sustainability efforts. A training program will be set up to facilitate implementation of this procedure. Elements of this training program will include:

  • Training materials describing activities, requirements, responsibilities and supporting information for each sustainability goal
  • The personnel receiving training
  • The schedule for initial and follow-up training

DDOT’s Sustainability Coordinator will be responsible for coordinating internal sustainability-related communications. DDOT’s sustainability-related internal communications will be used to ensure that employees are aware of the following:

  • The Environmental Policy
  • DDOT’s Sustainability Plan
  • The relevance of sustainability to employees’ job functions
  • Sustainability related procedures, processes and tools associated with employees’ work activities

Sustainability-related information will be maintained by the DDOT Sustainability Coordinator and will include DDOT’s Environmental Policy; DDOT Sustainability Plan; Sustainability Goals, Measures & Targets; and reports

Priority 1: Promoting Transportation and Land Use Linkage

Land use plays an important role in the way transportation systems are designed and used. Our ability to develop and utilize land efficiently is essential to achieving sustainable urban development. Sustainable transportation systems cannot be achieved without linking efficient land use with transportation systems. DDOT plans and designs its transportation systems for the long term (50-100 years). Therefore, the effects of existing and future transportation systems on land use development patterns must be taken into account in the design and planning process. This ensures that new transportation facilities effectively serve present and future generations.

Integrating land use and transportation planning requires interagency collaboration. For example, among others, DDOT works closely with the DC Office of Planning (DCOP). DCOP is responsible for land use planning for most of the District.  Because the District of Columbia is already in a built-out environment, most of the development in the city is infill. Nonetheless, it is critical to continue to work closely with land use plans to ensure that preferred land use management practices, such as transit-oriented development and pedestrian-friendly designs, are used to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of the transportation system.

The “Great Streets” initiative is an excellent example of DDOT’s ongoing efforts to bring together transportation improvements and land use strategies through interagency collaboration. The program applies a multidisciplinary approach to corridor improvement. The “Great Streets” initiative includes public realm investments, land use plans, public safety strategies and economic development assistance. It is a multi-agency effort that includes (among others) DDOT, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). The program revitalizes major urban corridors by improving transportation options, increasing streetscape attractiveness and attracting businesses and residents to the area. It also provides environmental benefits through smarter and more efficient use of land resources.

In order to promote sustainability, it is important for DDOT to continue working with other agencies to strengthen the link between transportation and land use as new development takes place. Strategic actions to improve transportation and land use linkages include:

  • Partnering with developers to ensure private sector implementation of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies.
  • Encouraging good urban design that promotes walkability and enhances pedestrian comfort and safety.
  • Changing minimum parking requirements to maximum parking requirements in appropriate areas of the city where transit resources are rich.

Goals, Actions, Measures, and Targets

Goal

Action

Measure Target
1 - Encourage development projects that promote and support non-auto mobility. Partner with developers to ensure private sector implementation of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies. Percentage of new developments undergoing zoning review that generate TDM plans. Increase by 15% annually.
2 - Incorporate land use in transportation decision-making. Improve use of land use data in transportation planning. Percentage of projects that use land use data. 100% planning projects.
2 - Incorporate land use in transportation decision-making. Improve use of land use data in transportation planning. Update land use data from DCOP and COG to be used in DDOT planning. At least once every year.

Priority 2: Improving Mode Choices, Accessibility and Mobility

The accessibility and mobility of all modes of transportation are both important elements of a sustainable transportation system. Multimodal transportation systems consist of all modes of transportation, including walking, biking, transit, automobiles, rail and water transportation. A sustainable transportation system balances all modes of transportation and considers inter-modal as well as intra-modal connectivity when systems are being developed.

The inability to easily and quickly add new transportation infrastructure coupled with the growth in passenger and freight travel has led to the need for transportation system managers and operators to pay more attention to managing demands (FHWA 2009). Improving mode choices, accessibility and mobility are essential for a sustainable transportation system. One of the important ways to achieve this is to implement Travel Demand Management (TDM) strategies and policies. TDM reduces travel demand and is more critical for transportation operations than strategies that increase capacity (supply) of facilities. To improve mobility and accessibility DDOT has focused on providing multimodal transportation options and implementing TDM strategies. Providing more transit, pedestrian and biking options are important elements of DDOT activities that improve modal choices and increase the mobility and accessibility of the transportation system as a whole. Examples of ongoing DDOT efforts include:

  • Expanding and increasing transit services, such as designing and constructing a streetcar system and a water-taxi system.
  • Developing multimodal transportation projects that consider roadway, pedestrians, bicyclists and transit improvements.
  • Implementing TDM strategies, such as car sharing, carpool, vanpool, transit subsidies and parking management programs.

DDOT will continue to enhance multimodal transportation options and implement effective TDM strategies to support non-auto mobility, promote the use of alternative transportation, better manage travel demand and reduce travel time.

Goals, Actions, Measures, and Targets

Goal Action Measure Target
1 - Expand and enhance transit services. Improve and expand Circulator bus service. Percentage of bus stop requests addressed. 95% of bus stop requests addressed within 15 days.
2 - Improve multimodal connectivity. Improve and expand Circulator bus service. Average monthly Circulator ridership. Increase 5% per year.
2 - Improve multimodal connectivity. Develop multimodal transportation projects Percentage of projects that consider roadway, pedestrians, bicyclists and transit improvements. 100% of projects.

Priority 3: Effective Cost Assessments in Decision Making

Effective cost assessments in decision-making plays an important role in sustainable transportation systems. Life-cycle cost is one of the most important cost assessment tools available. Life cycle cost includes the full range of costs assignable to an asset (such as a transportation system) or a process (such as industrial manufacturing) over its entire life cycle. Broadly, life-cycle cost is what it costs to plan, design, construct, operate and maintain a facility such as a building, a roadway or a trolley system. This is often referred to as “cradle-to-grave”. Investment plans regarding transportation systems must consider all costs and potential impacts associated with the investments over the entire life cycle of the transportation infrastructure project. 3D Bar Graph - Replacement Cost of DDOT Infrastructure in Billion $, Highways = approximately 2.5 billion, Streets = approximately 2.5 billion, bridges = approximately 30 billion.

The figure above shows the estimated cost associated with replacing various types of transportation infrastructure owned by DDOT (in billions dollars). Maintaining the transportation infrastructure in good condition not only makes the infrastructure last longer, but it also helps in keeping replacement costs down. Use of effective cost assessments and life cycle assessments will help DDOT meet its sustainability goals. The type of materials used, the costs incurred to construct and maintain this infrastructure and the life cycle cost assessment will ensure that DDOT projects use sustainable materials. This will keep DDOT’s infrastructure in excellent shape in economic climates when financial resources fluctuate.

DDOT has adopted the following practices based on a life-cycle assessment approach to reduce the life-cycle costs of transportation projects:

  • Using durable and easily maintained materials in new construction to minimize maintenance and repair costs.
  • Whenever possible, reducing, recycling and reusing construction materials without compromising construction safety standards.
  • Properly maintaining and preserving transportation infrastructure to prolong the lifetime of assets.
  • Ensuring projects are completed on time and on budget.
  • Avoiding disproportionately high distributing costs to minority and low-income populations.

DDOT will continue to integrate the life-cycle analysis approach into project development processes and will adopt measures to reduce costs and improve economic efficiency.

Goals, Actions, Measures, and Targets

Goal Action Measure Target
1 - Maximize life span of new construction. Use durable and easily maintained materials in new construction. Percentage of asphalt reused in street resurfacing. Increase by 5% annually.
2 - Maintain infrastructure in a state of good repair. Improve the quality of asset and incorporate asset conditions in decision-making. Number of lane-miles of roadway with lower PCI rating reconstructed. 15 lane-miles annually.
3 - Reduce project life-cycle costs. Reuse construction materials whenever possible. Percentage of construction material reused in projects. 5% annually.

Priority 4: Supporting the Economy

A robust economy is essential for maintaining and improving quality of life, communities and society. Sustainable transportation solutions improve economic vitality with cost-effective infrastructure that minimizes adverse impacts on the environment.

DDOT has spearheaded a number of transportation projects and practices that support sustainable economic growth, including:

  • Enhancing transit services and increasing mode choice to provide outstanding access to goods and services.
  • Providing safe and reliable transportation systems to support transit-accessible employment and recreation centers.
  • Minimizing construction impacts on local businesses and communities by tailoring construction phasing to the needs of local communities and obtaining local input early in projects.
  • Implementing transportation improvement projects that are consistent with the District’s planned growth and economic development patterns.
  • Improving streetscapes to accommodate and promote retail activity.
  • Investing in infrastructure to strengthen local retail and employment districts.
  • Creating great open spaces with improved lighting to increase community use and stimulate growth.
  • Supporting the creation of mixed-use districts within walking distance of residential areas.

DDOT will continue to develop and implement transportation projects that stimulate economic development while sustaining environmental and social health.

Goals, Actions, Measures, and Targets

Goal Action Measure Target
1 - Build great streetscapes to promote economic vitality. Implement the Great Streets program and incorporate the Great Streets principles into all streetscape projects. Number of miles of streetscape improved. Increase 2 miles per year.
1 - Build great streetscapes to promote economic vitality. Implement the Great Streets program and incorporate the Great Streets principles into all streetscape projects. Increase in usable open/green space. 0.3% annually.
2 - Target infrastructure investments to strengthen local retail and employment districts. Design high-quality, distinctive public spaces that attract visitors. Percentage increase in sales tax in streetscape areas within a year of construction. 1%

Priority 5: Improving DDOT Operations and Project Development

DDOT performs various functions that include roadway operation, streetlight maintenance, public space permitting and transportation infrastructure maintenance and construction. Improving the DDOT operations and the transportation project development process will help DDOT achieve sustainability. In pursuing sustainability, DDOT is committed to developing transportation projects and conducting operations in a manner that protects the environment for present and future generations.  DDOT combines sustainability in its operations and project development based on the following principles:

  • Undertaking the best project options to minimize negative impacts on the environment.
  • Embracing environmentally just and sustainable practices in daily decision-making processes.

Considering all appropriate economic, environmental and social concerns in the operations of the agency.

To put environmental sustainability into action, DDOT implemented an Environmental Management System (EMS) to ensure environmental considerations are incorporated into our daily operations and project development processes. The DDOT EMS was built on the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” model using the ISO 14001 structure. This structure leads to the continual improvement of performance and efficiency by developing procedures that integrate environmental considerations into ongoing decision-making processes and operations. DDOT EMS requires all DDOT projects to undergo environmental review at every phase of the project development process, including planning, designing, construction and maintenance. Commitments and proposed mitigation measures for transportation projects are tracked so that they are carried out through design and construction. At the end of the year, the results of these reviews are documented in a report along with corrective actions and recommendations.

DDOT EMS also includes DDOT operations to ensure resources are used more efficiently. Detailed information on DDOT EMS can be obtained from the DDOT EMS manual. The implementation of the EMS will help DDOT protect the environment, prevent pollution, use resources more efficiently, improve environmental performance, enhance compliance, reduce risks, increase efficiency and reduce costs. Implementing EMS ultimately makes DDOT a more sustainable agency as a whole. 

Goals, Actions, Measures, and Targets

Goal Action Measure Target
1 - Identify environmental resources and requirements for new projects in a timely manner. Review environmental evaluation form to identify environmental resources and requirements for projects. Percentage of evaluation form reviews completed (based on the obligation plan or TIP). 100 % annually
2 - Identify and preserve historic resources. Identify historic resources and initiate historic preservation coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) early in planning process. Provide Sec 106 training to DDOT staff. Once every two years.
2 - Identify and preserve historic resources. Identify historic resources and initiate historic preservation coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) early in planning process. Number of projects in which historic resources are identified in planning process 100% annually
2 - Identify and preserve historic resources. Identify historic resources and initiate historic preservation coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) early in planning process. Initiate coordination with SHPO early in the planning process for projects with potential to effect historic resources. 100% annually
3 - Incorporate environmental features in transportation projects. Increase environmentally-focused projects and address environmental considerations in project planning and development process. Number of environmentally-focused projects. 5 projects per year.
3 - Incorporate environmental features in transportation projects. Increase environmentally-focused projects and address environmental considerations in project planning and development process. Number of environmental components. At least 1 component per project annually.
4 - Reduce resource consumption in DDOT operations. Reduce consumption of office supplies, paper and electronic equipment. Quantity of paper. Reduce paper use by 5% every year.
4 - Reduce resource consumption in DDOT operations. Reduce consumption of office supplies, paper and electronic equipment. Quantity of office supplies (toner, folders, pens, etc). Reduce supply use by 5% every year.
4 - Reduce resource consumption in DDOT operations. Reduce consumption of office supplies, paper and electronic equipment. Quantity of new electronic equipment. Reduce the number of individual printers.

Priority 6: Protecting the Environment and Conserving Resources

Sustainable transportation provides access to safe transportation options. Sustainable options are consistent with human and ecosystem health and are equitable among all generations. Integrating these considerations into transportation planning is essential to achieve transportation sustainability.

Environmental considerations can be classified in three parts: the natural environment, the physical environment and the human environment.

Natural Environment: The natural environment generally refers to the ecosystem. It includes all living and nonliving things that occur naturally on the earth without human intervention (such as vegetation, wildlife, soil, air and water).

Physical Environment: The physical or built environment consists of areas and components influenced by human activities such as cultural and historic recourses and recreation areas.

Human Environment: The human environment consists of issues and concerns directly affecting human well-being (such as human health, environmental justice and civil rights).

Sustainable transportation practices minimize negative impacts on the natural environment and protect and preserve native habitat and biodiversity. They support historical and cultural preservation, reduce air and water pollution and enhance transportation safety. Sustainable practices avoid disproportionately high or adverse human health and environmental effects on minority and low-income populations and promote equity within and between generations.

Energy and resources are finite. They must be managed responsibly to meet our needs and the needs of future generations. It is important to manage energy and resources so that they are used responsibly and can be replenished or replaced in a sustainable manner.  The transportation sector uses more than 10% of total energy consumed in the District. Reducing consumption of transportation-related energy can reduce air pollution and energy costs. Doing so can result in positive environmental and economic impacts: both key elements of sustainability.

As a steward of the environment, DDOT is committed to developing transportation projects and conducting operations in a manner that protects and enhances the District’s natural, physical and human environment. Examples of DDOT’s ongoing efforts include:

  • Improving the health, diversity and expanse of the District tree canopy and encouraging community involvement in the protection of street trees.
  • Integrating historic preservation into transportation enhancement projects, where applicable.
  • Increasing the use of low-impact development design features in transportation projects to enhance storm water retention capacity and protect local waterways from pollution. An example is using permeable materials for paved surfaces in the right-of-way.

Enhancing transportation systems and promoting the use of alternative transportation to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.

  • Improving infrastructure and street designs to provide safe accommodation for all streets users.
  • Encouraging minority and low-income populations to participate in DDOT-hosted public meetings and events.

Goals, Actions, Measures, and Targets

Goal  Action Measure Target
1 - Reduce air pollution. Promote and implement transportation projects that reduce air emissions. Reduction (in lbs) of pollution due to DDOT projects. Reduce 5 % annually.
2 - Minimize the environmental impacts of transportation infrastructure. Implement Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program. Number of vehicles taken off the road through CMAQ Program. 700 vehicles per year.
2 - Minimize the environmental impacts of transportation infrastructure. Use low-impact development approach to manage storm water runoff. Treat storm water runoff and reduce runoff volume for impervious surface in the right-of-way using low-impact development. 5% annually.
3 - Increase knowledge of and correct application of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws and processes by DDOT managers. Train DDOT managers on EEO laws and process. Percentage of managers trained in EEO laws and process, including reasonable accommodation process. 100%
4 - Avoid disproportionately high or adverse impacts on environmental justice populations. Avoid displacing minority and/or low-income individuals or businesses as part of a right-of-way acquisition process. Percentage of individuals or businesses displaced as part of a right-of-way acquisition process that are minority and/or low-income or minority-owned. 100%
5 - Reduce impacts on historic resources. Work with SHPO to develop a list of projects that can be used as mitigation for any adverse effects that may result from DDOT projects. Develop the list of projects By the end of FY2011.
5 - Reduce impacts on historic resources. Work with SHPO to develop a list of projects that can be used as mitigation for any adverse effects that may result from DDOT projects. Update the list. Annually
5 - Reduce impacts on historic resources. Work with SHPO to develop a list of projects that can be used as mitigation for any adverse effects that may result from DDOT projects. Implement the projects. At least one project every year.
6 - Reduce energy use. Reduce power consumption of office equipment. Office equipment turned off at the end of the day. 100% off after work.
6 - Reduce energy use. Reduce power consumption of office equipment. Power savings associated with equipment turned off. Increase 5% annually.
6 - Reduce energy use. Reduce power consumption of office equipment. Carbon emissions reduction associated with power savings. Decrease emissions 5% annually.
7 - Increase reuse and recycling. Increase use of recycled paper and recycled products in office operations. Percentage of recycled content of paper. Increase the recycled content of paper by 30%.
7 - Increase reuse and recycling. Increase use of recycled paper and recycled products in office operations. Number of recycled products. Increase 5 % annually.
7 - Increase reuse and recycling. Increase material reuse and recycling in projects. Percentage of material recovered and reused/recycled. Increase the use of recycled products by 5%.
7 - Increase reuse and recycling. Increase material reuse and recycling in projects. Recycle urban wood from street trees and convert into available product. 5% annually.