Projects and Outcomes
A substantial cornerstone of NVRC’s international work has been the 20-year partnership with its regional counterpart in Stuttgart, Germany. From large-scale green infrastructure planning, to solar mapping, NVRC’s sustainable development programs have been touched by the exceptionally innovative work from the Stuttgart region. In June 2019, the NVRC and its partners renewed their cooperation for an additional five years.
2008 U.S. - E.U. Conference on Climate Change by Regional Councils
Between April 9-12, 2008, NVRC co-hosted the first “U.S. – European Conference of Metropolitan Regional Councils on Climate Change. “ The conference was the first gathering of US and European regional councils to meet on the topic of climate change. The conference offered a forum for the exchange and adoption of mutually beneficial climate change programs and policies.
Community Energy Planning
One of the most concrete examples of the adoption and implementation of energy and climate mitigation innovations from abroad has been NVRC’s community energy planning programs. From NVRC’s “Solarize NOVA” programs to the Arlington County’s Community Energy Plan, sustainable energy and climate mitigation efforts of the region have been transformed through the application of lessons from Germany, Denmark, France, Canada and other countries.
Trans-Atlantic Urban Climate Dialogue (TUCD)
From 2011 to 2014, NVRC, with support from the German Federal Ministry of Economy and the Free University of Berlin, organized a series of workshops and peer-to-peer technical and policy exchanges to Germany’s Ruhr Valley, Stuttgart, and the City of Guelph, Ontario. One of the goals was to expand and strengthen the implementation of community energy planning across the Northern Virginia region.
Formalizing Cooperation Between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Federal Republic of Germany on Climate
NVRC’s leadership in cross-national learning is reflected in the full-support and participation by leadership at the state level. In 2008, NVRC co-launched the Transatlantic Climate Bridge and co-authored the bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth of Virginia and German Federal Republic of Germany, signed by Governor Kaine. This success was followed in 2012, when NVRC co-authored the Cooperative Agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Commonwealth of Virginia on sustainable transportation and climate planning.
Resiliency and Climate Adaptation
Applying climate adaptation and resiliency policies from leading countries such as the Netherlands, is another key component of NVRC’s international programs. In 2012, the NVRC supported a technical expert from the region of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to assess the suitable adoption of climate resiliency programs from the Netherlands to Northern Virginia. In 2013, NVRC co-hosted a one-day technical workshop at the Royal Dutch Embassy to introduce elected officials and policymakers of the region to the findings of the report and to explore potentially feasible and cost-effective implementation options.
Green Infrastructure and Watershed Restoration
Among the first innovations NVRC worked to transfer and apply from overseas were multiple green infrastructure practices – especially the concepts of low-impact stormwater management and “green” rooftops from regions such as Germany’s Ruhr Valley and Stuttgart. For over 20 years, the Northern Virginia region has been seen as a national leader with the construction of “green” roofs and implementation of low-impact development stormwater practices or impermeable surface stormwater fees.
In Northern Virginia, issue of food waste and provision of surplus food is a priority. In 2016, NVRC, the Danish Embassy Capital Area Foodbank, organized a workshop to discuss transfers of innovative food waste mitigation programs from cities such as Copenhagen and the ways that such innovations might be applied to the Washington DC region
NVRC’s success with the adoption of international innovations has recently extended beyond the urban environmental sector and into the area of workforce training. Germany is recognized as the global benchmark for its “Dual-system” of harmonized accreditation practices and paid-apprenticeships. In partnership with its regional US and German-based business partners, as well as the Northern Virginia Community College (the fourth largest community college system in the United States), NVRC has helped the region to explore the transfer and adoption of Germany’s workforce training programs.
Water Treatment Infrastructure Lessons From Austria
NVRC’s work to transfer and apply technical and policy innovations from overseas has also included assisting regional utilities. In May 2016, NVRC partnered with Alexandria Renew and the Embassy of Austria on a workshop to explore the regional replication of Alexandria Renew’s adoptions of nitrate extraction technologies from Austrian wastewater treatment systems.