Eco-City Studio

News & Events

Eco-City Open House II

On Monday May 11, 2009 the City of Alexandria and its Environmental Policy Commission, with assistance from Virginia Tech faculty and students, hosted the second Environmental Action Plan Open House at the Charles Houston Recreation Center. This event provided a venue for the public to comment on the Final Draft of the Environmental Action Plan and offer feedback particularly on its implementation section which addresses the roles and responsibilities the City and the community need to take in order to make Alexandria a true Eco-City.

The Open House featured remarks by Vice Mayor Pepper and special keynote speaker --Dr. Alfredo Sfeir-Younis, from Chile. Considered a World Sustainability Leader,Dr. Alfredo Sfeir-Younis, discussed issues concerning individual action in the development of Eco-Cities, highlighting the importance of civic responsibility, awareness and education.

Key discussion topics at the event included: ways in which the City should support Eco-City Alexandria, the role citizens should take in order to support the Environmental Action Plan and thoughts and ideas on how the Eco-City Alexandria project should be funded. In addition, the event presented an opportunity for members of the community to make a civic commitment by filing out an Eco-City Volunteer Card.

EPC Retreat

On April 17 and 18, Virginia Tech hosted the Environmental Action Plan Retreat at the Virginia Tech campus on Prince St. The purpose of the retreat was to review the work of each EPC working team; refine goals, compile mid- and long-range actions and merge them together with the Phase One plan; and to finalize the implementation section of the Environmental Action Plan

Eco-City Café II

On Thursday, March 19, 2009 the City of Alexandria and Virginia Tech hosted the second Eco-City Café at the Lee Center.

This event was an opportunity for interested residents, businesspersons, and representatives from the different organizations that exist in Alexandria to share their thoughts and engage in a discussion with EPC members, City staff and members of City Council on what they envision a green Alexandria look like in 2030.

The ideas, thoughts and concerns highlighted by the community at the Cafe helped guide Phase Two of the Environmental Action Plan

Eco-City Environmental Action Plan Open House

On November 17, 2008, the City of Alexandria, the Environmental Policy Commission, and Virginia Tech collaboratively hosted an open house. The purpose of this open house was to give the public (youth and adult individuals, businesses, organizations and associations) the opportunity to learn about the Environmental Action Plan and offer comments about the development of the plan.

  • WHEN: Monday Evening, November 17, 2008
  • WHERE: Lee Center, Parks and Recreation Center, 1108 Jefferson St., Alexandria, VA 22314
  • Click here for more information.


Eco-City Alexandria Blog

In October, the Eco-City Studio launched a new blog to enable and support a healthy conversation between members of the Alexandria community and the Environmental Policy Commission. The Eco-City Alexandria Blog is a place where the Alexandria community (residents, employees, businesses, organizations, associations and city government) can share ideas about how to make the City of Alexandria, Virginia an ecologically sustainable city. The blog administrators and authors (the Eco-Studio and Environmental Policy Commission members) encourage not just feedback, but active participation. They want to know your ideas and thoughts about the Eco-City Charter and the development of the Environmental Action Plan. They want to know about projects, programs, policies, best practices and other initiatives you’ve run across related to ecological sustainability (environmental, economic & social sustainability). They want to know what you do, as individuals, businesses or organizations, to be more sustainable or environmentally responsible.

Share your ideas, comments and questions! Your input is very valuable. Click here to get started.


Eco-City Charter Public Hearing & Adoption

On Saturday, June 14, 2008 the Alexandria City Council voted 7-0 to adopt the City’s and the Region’s first Eco-City Charter. Mayor Euille, Vice Mayor Pepper, and Councilmember Krupicka led the accolades for city staff, the Environmental Policy Commission (EPC) and Virginia’ Tech’s Department of Urban Affairs and Planning. For more information click here.

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Eco-City Summit

On Saturday, May 10, 2008 the City of Alexandria and its Environmental Policy Commission, with assistance from Virginia Tech faculty and students, hosted the region’s first Eco-City Summit at T.C. Williams High School. This event provided a venue for the public to comment on the EPC’s Draft Eco-City Charter and offer feedback on priority areas for the upcoming Environmental Action Plan. More than 150 people, adults and youth, provided input and feedback on numerous environmental and sustainability issues. Real time voting, provided by Place Matters from Denver, CO, enabled participants to fully engage in the public forum process and see, first-hand the results of their input and feedback.

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The Summit featured a pioneer in community sustainability as the keynote speaker -- Mayor Robert “Bob” Harvey from Waitakere, New Zealand. Through his engaging, charismatic style, Mayor Bob shared the journey of how citizens and local government worked together to make Waitakere the first Eco-City in New Zealand. (For more information on Mayor Bob, see his CV and an article about his work in New Zealand.)

Virginia Tech graduate students, with assistance from EDAW staff, facilitated two rounds of table-top discussion sessions. The morning session focused on the participants’ insights, reactions and suggested changes to each of the Charter principles. Using state-of-the-art key pad voting equipment, provided by Place Matters, participants were given the opportunity to vote on their level of support for each of the ten Charter principles. Over 90% of the voting participants supported the overall Charter (strongly agreed or somewhat agreed). Principles on Energy and Green Buildings garnered the highest approval ratings of 94%. On average only 3 to 4% of the voters disagreed with any of the overall Charter or any of its specific principles.

The afternoon session gave the participants the opportunity to discuss community priorities for the environmental action plan. Tabletop discussions were organized based on one of three sustainability themes: 1) Classic Environmental Sustainability Issues: Air, Water & Solid Waste; 2) Planning for Sustainability: Land Use, Open Space, Green Buildings & Transportation; and 3) Emerging Sustainability Issues: Energy, Climate Change & Health. Two rounds of discussions gave participants the opportunity to offer feedback on priority areas and actions. At the end of the Summit, participants voted for their top three sustainability priorities for each of the three threads. Voting results were later  synthesized by Virginia Tech faculty and Place Matters.

        Classic Environmental Sustainability Issues

        1. Expand recycling options
        2. Reuse grey water
        3. Develop comprehensive stormwater plan

        Planning for Sustainability

        1. Improve bike Infrastructure
        2. Provide tax incentives and education for green buildings
        3. Improve urban forestry

        Emerging Sustainability Issues

        1. Provide technical assistance and incentives for homeowners for renewable energy sources
        2. Incubate green collar jobs
        3. Retrofit city buildings and facilities to make more energy efficient

      Summit participants were also asked to select three top “out of the box” ideas they would support. The top ideas were: 1) develop carbon neutrality plan for the city and establish metrics; 2) create a civic pride campaign; and 3) create citizen groups to monitor and enforce environmental issues.

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Eco-City Student Contest

The City of Alexandria held a contest for middle and high school students living in Alexandria or going to school in Alexandria. All entries were on display at the Eco-City Summit.

Using WORDS (in the form of a poem or short essay no more than 300 words), ART (drawing, painting, graphic design, or other artistic medium), or PHOTOGRAPHY (digital or 35mm photograph with a short description of the image) students were asked to answer one of the following questions:

  1. What does ecological, social and economic sustainability mean (or look like to you)?
  2. What would you do to make Alexandria a better place to live for people of all ages, races, ethnicities and income levels, while reducing its impact on the environment?

All participating students were invited to attend the Eco-City Summit and comment on the Draft Eco-City Charter. The entries were displayed and 1 finalist from each category was selected and invited to present his/her work to City Council members and the general public. Due to the large number of art entries and no photography entries, the art entries were divided into two categories: mixed media art and drawings.

For a copy of the student contest flyer, click here.

The first, second and third place entries for each category are as follows:

Mixed Media (Art)

  1. Joann Liu (TC Williams) | "Planting the Seeds"
  2. Maria Balfour/Janay Campbell (TC Williams) | "Do not pollute the waters"
  3. David Thorpe (TC Williams) | "Stop using Styrofoam"

Drawings (Art)

  1. Hallie Lenneman (TC Williams) | "Light bulb"
  2. Matthew Argao (TC Williams) | "If only it were that simple"
  3. David A. (TC Williams) | "Good Ideas Don’t Come That Often, So Conserve"

Written (Poem/Essay)

  1. Joseph Jackson (Minnie Howard) | "Going Green"
  2. Gifty Oteng (Minnie Howard) "If I had the will and power to create a healthier Alexandria"
  3. Paige Stasiewicz (TC Williams) | Untitled poem


Eco-City Cafe

On Saturday, March 8, 2008 the City of Alexandria and Virginia Tech hosted the Eco-City Café at George Washington Middle School.


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Small, centered image, 135 by 100 pixels

This event provided a venue for community representatives to offer their vision of sustainability and related principles and goals for the City of Alexandria. Modeled after the World Café concept used in Canada and Europe, this event featured a series of conversations among six to eight participants focused on three questions:

  1. When you hear the term “Eco-City Alexandria,” what images come to mind? What is your vision for the City in 2020?
  2. How should the leaders start to achieve this vision?
  3. The Environmental Policy Commission will draft and the city council will consider the adoption of the Eco-City Charter by June 2008. What major principles (e.g., themes, concepts or messages) do you want them to include in the Charter?

The event was kicked off by Vice Mayor Redella S. "Del" Pepper, Councilman Rob Krupicka, and Danielle Fidler, Chair of the Environmental Policy Commission. Additionally, several city departments showcased a number of current and planned efforts to create a sustainable City of Alexandria.

More than 120 people provided input and feedback on numerous environmental and sustainability issues. This feedback will be used to help develop the Eco-City Charter and the Environmental Action Plan.

To view pictures from the event, click here.


Formal Launch of Eco-City Alexandria

On January 22, 2008, the Alexandria City Council formally launched Eco-City Alexandria by accepting a special report prepared by UAP’s Eco-City Studio, A Green-ventory of the City’s Environmental Policies, Plans, and Programs. Professor Joe Schilling spoke on behalf of Virginia Tech and Director of Environmental Quality William Skrabak represented the City.  Mayor Euille and the City Council passed Resolution 2265 in favor of Eco-City Alexandria that will create the City’s first Eco-City Charter.