DDOE Director Christophe Tulou, a holdover from the Adrian M. Fenty administration, oversees 300 environmental professionals in four administrations, 13 divisions and 14 branches set up to protect the District’s natural resources.
Mr. Tulou arrived from the Pew Environmental Trust in May 2010 after a long career that has earned him a national reputation in environmental, energy, natural resource and climate policy.
A former secretary for Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and a former staff director to a subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs, Mr. Tulou inherited DDOE after water and air quality divisions were carved from the Department of Health and merged in 2006 with energy divisions from the Department of Public Works.
The combination of expertise and authority under one roof allows him to be more mission-focused, Mr. Tulou said.
“The more consolidated these functions are, the easier for others to collaborate with you,” he said, noting partner agencies such as the Public Works Department, the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority, the D.C. Department of Transportation, and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
Mr. Tulou is the rare official who embraces the District’s quasi-state status, preferring no middleman between local and federal authorities. “You don’t have to beg and plead with state officials,” he said of the process of working within a multijurisdictional region. “It’s more efficient, quick and predictable.”
D.C. government is not often described in such terms.
Yet Mr. Tulou revels in his position on Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s “Green Cabinet,” which has the task of advancing Mr. Gray’s “Sustainable D.C.” environmental plan, which he will formally announce Tuesday.
There are signs that the District is well-positioned to be a leader in the sustainability movement.
In 2011, the U.S. Green Building Council rated the District the top city in the nation in per capita certified “green” buildings for cities of more than 200,000 people, and first in the nation among states in square feet of certified “green” buildings per capita.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rated the District the top city in per capita Energy Star-rated buildings, the No. 2 city in total number of Energy Star buildings and the top city in green power usage.
According to the Trust for Public Land, D.C. rates second among U.S. cities for “green space,” defined by urban parkland as a percentage of a city’s total acreage, and in acres of parkland per capita for high-density cities.
“We are involved in everything from regulation to major public works to bugs and bunnies,” Mr. Tulou said.
The agency has a $100 million annual budget and 300 employees, including biologists, toxicologists, engineers and nurses.