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New EPA Study Evaluates Flood Loss Benefits of Green Infrastructure
The EPA has released a new study that estimates the benefits of small storm retention practices - green infrastructure - for managing stormwater from new and redevelopment. Findings from the study, Flood Loss Avoidance Benefits of Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Management, revealed that over time, green infrastructure strategies can save hundreds of millions of dollars in flood losses when applied to new and redevelopment only. However, if retrofitting is utilized, the study found that the avoided losses would be even more significant.
This information provides additional incentives for using permeable pavements, as numerous studies have already shown the cost benefits of green infrastructure.
FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION
MAP 21 - Capital Investment Program
by Josh Cohen - Next City
"In September 2015, the Federal Transit Administration announced that nearly $20 million in grants were awarded to transportation agencies, cities and regional governments around the U.S. The pilot program is meant to encourage residential and commercial transit-oriented development in order to maximize investments and bolster ridership for new lines."
"MAP-21, the 2012 federal transportation package provides $10 million each year for municipalities and agencies doing planning work on a transportation project that’s also seeking funding from the federal Capital Investment Grants program. Last year would’ve been the first year of grants, but none were given, hence the nearly $20 million announced this month."
The Capital Investment Grant program is a discretionary grant program unlike most others in government. Instead of an annual call for applications and selection of awardees by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the law requires that projects seeking CIG funding complete a series of steps over several years to be eligible for funding.
Sustainable Sites Initiative Aquired by Green Business Certification, Inc.
Originally co-established by the American Society of Landscape Architects and the University of Texas at Austin, the Sustainable Sites Initiative - the nation's first voluntary rating system for sustainable landscapes has been acquired by Green Business Certification, Inc., the certification body for the LEED green building program from USGBC. They are advocating for sustainable design with federal and state policy makers and agencies to encourage sustainable design practices. The ASLA acknowledged the importance of stormwater management by working with their membership to provide the EPA with nearly 500 case studies on projects that have successfully and sustainably managed stormwater with green infrastructure and low-impact development approaches. The case studies demonstrated that most projects were less costly than traditional gray infrastructure and would save communities millions of dollars each year, as well as improve water quality.
The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES®) is an interdisciplinary effort to transform land development and management practices towards regenerative outcomes. With that goal in mind, the SITES program has focused on developing a comprehensive, voluntary rating system for sustainable landscapes. Official recognition (or certification) of sustainable practices and landscape performance is based on objective and rigorous planning, design, construction, and maintenance criteria that has been developed through extensive research and input by a diverse group of technical experts, stakeholder organizations and the general public.
The Promise of Permeable Pavement
by Jeanna Henry - Healthy Waters for EPA's Mid-Atlantic Region
Permeable pavement products can be used together with other green infrastructure.
When it rains, or as snow and ice melt, I frequently notice streams of water running off of my lawn, onto the street, into the storm sewer, and ultimately to a local waterway. I’ve also noticed an increase in flooded roadways and neighborhoods in my area even after a moderate to heavy rain. Unfortunately, stormwater is not just a localized issue, it is a problem across the country. As the saying goes: when it rains, it pours.
Flooding results in economic costs, human health impacts, and environmental damage in its wake. A major factor in more frequent flooding events is the increasing cover of impervious surfaces, such as roadways, parking lots and rooftops. Since these hard surfaces do not allow stormwater to naturally seep into the ground, most rainfall turns into runoff. With continuing development and growth, what options are available to minimize the effects of impervious surfaces? A more sustainable solution is to replace or substitute conventional pavements with permeable pavements – a green infrastructure tool.
EPA Green Infrastructure Collaborative
On October 8, 2014, EPA’s Green Infrastructure Program and the White House Council on Environmental Quality launched a broad collaborative of external stakeholders to advance green infrastructure implementation. The Green Infrastructure Collaborative will leverage efforts from the federal family, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and academia to advance green infrastructure as a means of supporting water quality and community development goals. As part of the announcement, EPA released a Statement of Support outlining specific commitments from Collaborative members to advance cooperation and coordination around green infrastructure initiatives.
The Collaborative will build capacity for green infrastructure by providing a platform for national stakeholders to:
- Leverage joint efforts to promote the multiple community benefits of green infrastructure;
- Share and build knowledge around emerging green infrastructure technologies and policy issues; and
- Facilitate shared inquiry into the best ways to encourage adoption of green infrastructure technologies at the local level.
The Green Infrastructure Collaborative consists of more than 20 organizations committed to advancing the adoption of green infrastructure as a means of supporting water quality and community development goals. This broad group of signatories includes academia, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector including the American Society of Civil Engineers, the National Resources Defense Council, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Low Impact Development Center.
The Collaborative will build on the Green Infrastructure Partnership launched in 2007 by EPA and its founding partner organizations.
For more information on the Collaborative, visit: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/gi_partners.cfm
American Society of Landscape Architects Announces New Online Guide to Green Infrastructure
The American Society of Landscape Architects new online guide explains the many advantages of green infrastructure that provide proven benefits for communities. The guide notes that green infrastructure occurs at all scales, and while it's often associated with green stormwater management systems, there is much more.
The guide includes sections on park systems and urban forests, wetlands, wildlife corridors and spaces, cities, green streets and sustainable transportation. It envisions green infrastructure as a "centerpiece of smart regional and metropolitan planning, ensuring communities have a livable environment, with clean air and water, for generations to come." At the site-scale, smart communities are encouraged to use green infrastructure "for transportation systems (green streets), and green roofs, which can can bring the benefits of nature to the built environment."
The site includes hundreds of free research studies, news articles, and case studies, organized by green infrastructure scale, from the smallest to the broadest.
Learn more: http://www.asla.org/greeninfrastructure.aspx
EPA UPDATES SWMM
The U.S. EPA SWMM (Stormwater Management Model) Program is a free, dynamic hydrology-hydraulic-water quality simulation model. It is used for single event or long-term (continuous) simulation of runoff quantity and quality from primarily urban areas. The runoff component operates on a collection of sub-catchment areas that receive precipitation and generate runoff and pollutant loads. It is in use around the world.
As of May 2014, SWMM Version 5.1.006 has recently been extended to model the hydrologic performance of specific types of low impact development (LID) controls. The LID controls that the user can choose include the following seven green infrastructure practices:
The updated model allows engineers and planners to accurately represent any combination of LID controls within a study area to determine their effectiveness in managing stormwater and combined sewer overflows.
For more information and to download the program:
Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s Envision Rating System
By Rebecca Morris and Dave Briglio - Stormwater Magazine
A Rating System for the Sustainability of Infrastructure: Envision
“The purpose of Envision is to initiate a system change . . . to transform the way infrastructure is designed, built, and operated.” –William Bertera, Executive Director, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, 2012
The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) was established in 2010 as a not-for-profit organization by the American Council of Engineering Companies, American Public Works Association, and American Society of Civil Engineering. ISI was founded to create a consistent framework to evaluate the sustainability of civil infrastructure as well as the extent to which infrastructure contributes to the condition of sustainability. ISI collaborated with the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University’s School of Design. This partnership ultimately led to the development and release of the Envision Rating System in 2012—a system of categories, subcategories, and credits designed to quantify the sustainability of an infrastructure project. The intent of the Envision Rating System process is to assist the project owner in raising the bar or optimizing the sustainability of a project during the planning and preliminary design phases by offering metrics to which the project owner can benchmark.
The initial release of the Envision Rating System addressed the Design and Planning and Construction stages. Subsequent phase ratings are scheduled to follow for the Operations and Maintenance and the Deconstruction and Decommissioning phases of a project. Read more.
Research at NC State Confirms Permeable Pavement Works in Clay Soils
From the Winter 2016 edition of Interlock Design Magazine
Many design professionals cite clay soils as a barrier to utilizing permeable pavements due to their limited infiltration capabilities. A recent study at North Carolina State University has demonstrated that permeable interlocking concrete pavements are effective in improving stormwater runoff hydrology and water quality, even in the case of low infiltration clay soils.
The study monitored a permeable paver site located at a Durham, NC city park sited over soils with an infiltration rate of approximately 0.01 in./hr from March 2014 to April 2015.
Results indicated 22% volume reduction via subgrade infiltration and peak flows were significantly reduced by a median of 84%. The site also had exceptional pollutant removal efficiency with a reduction of total suspended solids (99%), total nitrogen (68%), and total phosphorous (96%).
EPA's Green Infrastructure Technical Assistance Summary Offers Tools, Strategies, and Lessons Learned
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released Tools, Strategies and Lesson Learned from EPA Green Infrastructure Technical Assistant Projects, a new report that summarizes an array of tools and resources from EPA’s green infrastructure technical assistance program for communities looking for solutions to their unique challenges.
The report offers practical, successful solutions to inspire city managers, community leaders, and engaged citizens looking to design their community space for better health, abundant water resources, and improved quality of life. Green infrastructure is an adaptable and multifunctional approach to stormwater management and climate resiliency with many benefits for communities:
• Improves water quality and conserves water
• Strengthens the local economy
• Enhances community and infrastructure resilency
Water Environment Federation Establishes the WEF Stormwater Institute
by Lori Harrison - Water Environment Federation
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) has announced the establishment of the WEF Stormwater Institute, a new venture to address the growing issue of stormwater and urban runoff. The institute will be housed within WEF to leverage the organization’s existing leadership, breadth of membership, and varied partnerships with federal, state, and local entities responsible for managing stormwater issues. The WEF Stormwater Institute will serve as a center for excellence and a resource for stormwater practitioners and regulator communities. Stormwater is the only growing source of water pollution in many watersheds throughout North America. As urban areas grow and more severe weather occurs, the issue of stormwater management will only increase in importance.
The growing issue of stormwater pollution coupled with regulatory pressure has created a need for national leadership that the WEF Stormwater Institute aims to provide. The institute will have a strong initial focus on the development of technical tools, professional training, and networking opportunities for stormwater practitioners worldwide. Many existing stormwater initiatives within WEF will be brought under the umbrella of the institute, and new programs in key areas such as green infrastructure will be developed.
Global Green Seeking Applications for 2015 Sustainable Neighborhood Assessments
Global Green is seeking applications from local governments and tribal entities for the 2015 Sustainable Neighborhood Assessments. The assistance is based on the LEED for Neighborhood Development standard, which provides a nationally recognized method for creating neighborhoods that are walkable, bikeable, resource-efficient, and equitable.
The US EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program is providing a grant to Global Green for this assistance. The estimated value of the technical assistance is approximately $20,000 per community. Six awards will be made through this selection process. Good candidates are communities that have expressed an interest in integrating sustainability as part of community revitalization efforts and that can identify a neighborhood that features a "catalytic project." Examples from previous communities include affordable housing development or renovation, public housing redevelopment through Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, urban design and green infrastructure upgrades related to combined sewer overflow mitigation, light rail or bus rapid transit stations, new urban parks, eco district formation, and modifications to increase resilience to extreme weather events.
Submissions are due July 17, 2015.
The application can be downloaded at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/y8kktsl9bvogyat/2015_SNA_Application.docx?dl=0
For more information please contact Krista Frank at: email@example.com or 310-581-2700 x107.
EPA Releases Integrated Green Stormwater Infrastructure Guide
EPA has released "Community Based Public-Private Partnerships (CBP3) and Alternative Market-Based Tools for Integrated Green Stormwater Infrastructure: A Guide for Local Governments." This guide identifies tools to help communities address water quality challenges through faster, cheaper, and greener methods. Experts from a variety of sectors provided input on topics such as public infrastructure financing, green infrastructure design and delivery, economic development, renewable energy and military housing. It introduces the CBP3 approach as a means of implementing green infrastructure to meet a variety of regulatory and community needs. The guide is intended for a variety of audiences, including lawyers, finance specialists, P3 experts, public officials, economic developers, stormwater and green infrastructure practitioners and managers, decision makers and regulators.
Download the report here.
EPA - Enhancing Sustainable Communities with Green Infrastructure
A new report released by U.S. EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities titled, Enhancing Sustainable Communities With Green Infrastructure: A guide to help communities better manage stormwater while achieving other environmental, public health, social, and economic benefits, aims to help local governments, water utilities, nonprofit organizations, neighborhood groups, and other stakeholders integrate green infrastructure strategies into plans that can transform their communities.
Many communities that want to use green infrastructure approaches face technical, regulatory, financial, and institutional obstacles that limit widespread implementation. This report serves as a guide to develop a plan that can overcome these obstacles for neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions of all sizes. It also can help stakeholders create a vision for how green infrastructure can enhance their communities beyond reducing stormwater runoff, and directs readers to other resources that provide more detailed information that can be tailored to communities’ particular climate, goals, and circumstances.
New Department of Energy Regulation Sets Green-building Standards for Federal Agencies
A new regulation by the Department of Energy dictates which private-sector green building certifications can be used in federal buildings to meet energy-efficiency standards. Under the rule, federal agencies "must choose a system that verifies enhanced energy and water efficiency," said the DOE. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design's Silver level may be used, and in some instances, the Green Globes program may be substituted. The rule takes effect on Nov. 13, 2014.
EPA Helping Five State Capitals Develop Green Infrastructure
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will provide technical assistance to help five capital cities develop green infrastructure that will contribute to greener, more vibrant neighborhoods and increase resiliency from the impacts of our changing climate.
EPA will work with each city to provide design assistance that will make improvements in specific neighborhoods. Each project will focus on incorporating green infrastructure by using vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage stormwater. Green infrastructure can help cities realize numerous benefits for people and the environment. EPA will provide assistance for the following projects:
- Austin, Texas, will receive assistance to create design options to improve pedestrian and bike connections in the South Central Waterfront area, and to incorporate green infrastructure that reduces stormwater runoff and localized flooding, improves water quality, and increases shade.
- Carson City, Nev., will receive assistance to improve William Street, a former state highway that connects to the city’s downtown. The project will help the city explore how to incorporate green infrastructure through the use of native plants, and to enhance the neighborhood’s economic vitality.
- Columbus, Ohio, will receive assistance to develop design options for the Milo-Grogan neighborhood that use green infrastructure to improve stormwater quality, reduce flooding risks, and encourage walking and cycling.
- Pierre, S.D., will receive assistance to redesign its historic main street, South Pierre, in a way that uses green infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff and improve resiliency to extreme climate conditions.
- Richmond, Va., will receive assistance to design options for more parks and open spaces, and to incorporate green infrastructure to better manage stormwater runoff on Jefferson Avenue, a street which serves as the gateway to some of Richmond’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods.
The Greening America’s Capitals program aims to help communities consider ways to incorporate sustainable design strategies that yield multiple environmental, economic, and social benefits into their planning and development. EPA implements this program in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a program that helps communities create more housing and transportation choices that result in better environmental outcomes for communities.
More information on Greening America’s Capitals:
View design options for several Greening America’s Capital cities on Flickr:
More information on green infrastructure:
EPA Funding Supports Urban Waterways
The EPA announced on July 17, 2014 that it is awarded a total of $2.1 million to 37 organizations in 17 states and Puerto Rico to help protect and restore urban waters, improve water quality, and support community revitalization. EPA is awarding grants ranging from $40,000 to $60,000 for projects taking place in areas that align with the 18 designated Urban Waters Federal Partnership locations. All funded projects work to advance environmental justice in their communities and focus on one of the following three categories: community greening and green infrastructure, communities and water quality data, and integration of water quality and community development in planning. Read more here.
The Urban Waters Federal Partnership established seven Urban Waters Pilot locations in June of 2011, with the goal of working closely with local partners to restore urban waterways. Cleaning up and restoring local water resources is essential to protecting Americans’ health and improving their overall quality of life. Revitalizing urban waterways will also reconnect citizens to open spaces, and will have a positive economic impact on local businesses, tourism and property values, as well as spur private investment and job creation in these communities.
Progress in the original 7 urban waters locations is detailed in the Partnership in Action Report.