Southwest Ecodistrict Update

As we reported last July, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) has big plans for the almost 110-acre, 15-block section of Southwest Washington, D.C., that is home to the Departments of Energy, Education, and Housing and Urban Development, as well as offices of the Federal Aviation Administration, GSA and U.S. Postal Services. At its most recent monthly meeting (on January 10), the NCPC formally accepted the final plan, titled The SW Ecodistrict: A Vision Plan for a More Sustainable Future, which provides a framework to transform the area, over the next 20 years, into a national showcase of sustainable urban development that also will connect the National Mall with the Southwest Waterfront.

The plan, explains NCPC Chairman L. Preston Bryant, Jr., in his introduction, is “a roadmap for creating a highly sustainable mixed use neighborhood, national and cultural destination, and downtown workplace to meet the needs of the next generation of federal workers, city residents and visitors.” He adds that it also “demonstrates how precinct-scale planning for environmental systems achieves significantly better outcomes than individual building-scale strategies.”

As reported last week (January 19) in The Southwester, NCPC staff, along with federal and District agencies and other stakeholders, are currently moving forward on studies to implement SW Ecodistrict plan strategies. The District Department of Transporation, for example, will initiate a technical planning study of the area focused on multimodal transportation and more detailed design and engineering analyses. Other studies are exploring the technical and financial feasibility of establishing an areawide sustainable stormwater system and examining the costs and benefits of the proposed development scenario.

Achieving the plan’s sustainability goals and mixed-use vision will require partnerships among all of the SW Ecodistrict’s stakeholders. One step in that process began last month, when GSA issued an RFI asking for ideas about how to redevelop the 22-acre area known as Federal Center South, which contains five federal buildings—and sits entirely within the SW Ecodistrict.

Map courtesy of National Capital Planning Commission