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Sustainable DC
Built Environment


Climate header

Projected number of heat emergency days. Baseline: 29 days. 2020: 50 days, 2050: 70 to 80 days, 2080: 75 to 105 days. 75% of the District's GHG emissions come from buildings. 1 metric ton of GHG emissions is equivalent of 2.451 miles driven by an average car. The District's GHG emissions are down 29% from the 2006 baseline.

The District is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. Climate change refers to long-term changes in global temperature, precipitation, wind patterns, and other aspects of climate. These global changes have serious consequences for individuals, neighborhoods, and the District as a whole. In the past few years, the District has seen record-breaking extreme weather (like heat waves and snowstorms), higher tides caused by rising sea level, heavy rains and flooding, and warmer average temperatures and two to three times as many dangerously hot days. The District Government is approaching climate change from two sides: adaptation and mitigation.  

Adaptation means taking action today to prepare people, homes, communities, businesses and infrastructure for the potential impacts of climate change, including extreme heat, increased precipitation, more dangerous storms and sea level rise. Learn more about how the District is preparing for the impacts of climate change. Mitigation refers to reducing the following greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs)—carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Learn more about the District’s climate change mitigation efforts.   

The District of Columbia Commission on Climate Change and Resiliency (DCCCCR) was established in 2016 to assess the impacts of the changing climate and potential impacts of adverse weather events; the District's ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change; and the status of the District's ability to prepare, plan for, absorb, recover from, and adapt to adverse events.  

Sustainable DC 2.0’s actions on climate have real-world benefits for the District at all levels:

  • Individual: Climate change impacts all residents, but the impacts for some are more severe, based on a number of factors: age, income level, geographic location, and other characteristics. The actions in Sustainable DC 2.0 focus on helping all residents adapt to climate change, especially those most at-risk economically and physically, and on empowering residents to reduce their emissions. 

  • Neighborhood: Climate change impacts parts of the District differently. Low-lying neighborhoods near the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers are more likely to be impacted by sea level rise and coastal flooding, while neighborhoods without green vegetation are more likely to be impacted by heat waves. Sustainable DC 2.0 focuses on improving the adaptive capacity of critical infrastructure in neighborhoods—transportation, energy, water, and telecommunications—so communities can bounce back quickly after extreme weather events. 

  • District: Sustainable DC 2.0 sets ambitious, overarching climate adaptation and mitigation priorities for the entire city, enabling the District to set a leading example on how to be resilient to a changing climate while reducing emissions.  

Sustainable DC Climate Goals:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all local sources to put us on track to eliminate emissions by 2050.* 

  • Advance physical adaptation and human preparedness to increase the District’s resilience to climate change. 

There's More


xvi: Department of Energy and Environment; xvii: Climate Ready DC; xviii: Environmental Protection Agency Greenhouse Gas Equivalency Calculator; xix: Climate Ready DC; all as cited in Sustainable DC 2.0

*The Sustainable DC 2.0 Plan lists 2050 but there has since been legislation moving this timeline up to 2045.