In 2008, the Alexandria City Council approved an "Eco-City" charter with the goal of guiding the city and its residents toward "sustainability".

The term "Eco-City" was first coined by Richard Register in his 1987 book Ecocity Berkeley: building cities for a healthy future. An "Eco-City" is typically defined as one in which inhabitants are dedicated to the minimal consumption of energy, water and food as well as minimal production of air and water pollution.

Alexandria, however, defined sustainability instead as meeting the city's present needs while preserving its historic character and ensuring the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.