Destination DC Hosts Sustainability Summit Showcasing Partnerships and Leaders

“We recognise our need to do more when it comes to sustainability, so the summit is a step in the right direction on what we can do as destination stewards,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II president and CEO.
15th Mar, 2024

Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC, announced the inaugural Sustainability Summit, an impactful event that highlights the power of federal and local partnerships.

The collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) and the local hospitality community explores avenues to make Washington, DC's tourism and events industry more sustainable. The Summit highlights the city’s dedication to sustainability and its key initiatives, including the 2040 zero waste commitment and the forthcoming Sustainable DC 3.0 Plan.

“We recognise our need to do more when it comes to sustainability, so the summit is a step in the right direction as we focus on what we can do collectively as destination stewards,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II president and CEO. “Destination DC’s Sustainability District is an opportunity for collaborative learning, fostering economic and social opportunities for small businesses and the local community, reinforcing our collective responsibility to build a sustainable and vibrant future for our nation's capital.”

Ferguson moderated the event held at the Capital Turnaround, a sustainable venue that revived the historic Navy Yard Car Barn in DC’s Barracks Row neighborhood. The summit represented local and federal stakeholders and customers and featured a keynote address and panel. Speakers shared information about steering DC's tourism and events industry towards a more sustainable path:

  • Vicki Arroyo, Associate Administrator for Policy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (keynote);
  • Amy Hissrich, CAE, Vice President, International Affairs, ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership;
  • Richard Jackson, Director, DOEE;
  • Shelby Luzzi, Senior Manager, Sustainability, Destination DC;
  • Brian Pasco, Senior Manager for National and Long Distance Advertising, Amtrak (case study for sustainable travel) 

“Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, EPA is directing billions of dollars to communities across the U.S. to become more climate resilient,” said Vicki Arroyo, EPA Associate Administrator for Policy. “Washington, DC is already a recognised leader on climate-related planning and action. I’m delighted to join this Destination DC conversation on how the tourism industry can build on these initiatives, taking climate-smart actions to support residents and visitors alike.”


District Sustainability Awards

Keith Anderson, the District’s Deputy Mayor for Operations and Infrastructure, presented the DOEE’s District Sustainability Awards recognising the following DDC member businesses, organisations and individuals for their achievements:

  • Rocklands BBQ – A 30-year District family restaurant that supports other DC food vendors by showcasing local products (beer, sweets and sauces). The restaurant has installed a solar array and composts at all locations. Rocklands coordinates fundraising events for the community, averaging $20,000 a year in donations. Notably, they are committed to responsible sourcing and serve local blue catfish, a species that is invasive to the Potomac River and the greater Chesapeake Bay watershed.
  • The Catholic University of America – Clean Energy DC Award
    In 2009, CUA installed 2,600 solar panels and in 2022, enlarged the array through a partnership with Standard Solar. Catholic University’s West Campus solar array will be one of the largest in the region. The community solar project will provide locally generated, clean energy to District households, small businesses, nonprofits and seniors in Ward 5.
  • Oyster Oyster – The restaurant focuses on supporting organic farms with closed loop packaging solutions and has omitted all single-use cans, bottles, and plastics from their menu. They have pioneered a circular economy process, in collaboration with a local ceramics studio, to crush their glass wine bottles and repurpose them into custom plates. Owner and chef Rob Rubba is the co-founder of “Bakers Against Racism.”
  • The Festival Center – The renovated energy-efficient center offers affordable office and kitchen space for area nonprofits. The center collaborates with more than 25 advocacy organisations, of which 90% are Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) led.
  • SiStained8 – Founded by Najwa Womack, a Ward 7 woman- and minority-owned small business that offers creative community compost education. SiStained8 works with youth, adult, and senior programs to advocate for aerobic composting and responsible waste management practices.
  • Ana Mayer, Zoe Fisher and Maia Riggs – The three students mobilised students across the District to advocate for the State Board of Education to pass a resolution for a Green New Deal of Schools. Mss. Mayer, Fish and Riggs were nominated for their exemplary environmental leadership.

“The 2024 Sustainability Awards and our partnership with Destination DC highlight the vital, but often overlooked, link between sustainability, tourism and economic growth,” said Richard Jackson, Director, DOEE. “This partnership also represents our commitment to ensure the District continues to be the most healthy, green and livable city for residents and visitors. Congratulations to the winners.”

DDC launched the Sustainability District initiative in 2023. The programme is DC's gateway for working with businesses and destination suppliers throughout the hospitality industry committed to promoting a more sustainable place to live, visit and meet. Currently there are 27 members.

The event also marked the beginning of DDC's 2024 Global Destination Sustainability-Index performance efforts, aiming to surpass last year's achievements while retaining the top spot in the U.S. DDC is developing a destination-specific sustainability strategy with GDS-Movement for FY2026.

About Destination DC: Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, is a private, non-profit membership organization committed to marketing the area as a premier global convention, tourism and special events destination with a special emphasis on the arts, cultural and historic communities.

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