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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
U.S. DOT Announces 2014 TIGER Grant Recipients
By the American Society of Landscape Architects
This spring, the Department of Transportation (DOT) released a Notice of Funding Availability of $600 million for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program to be awarded on a competitive basis.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently announced projects to be awarded a portion of the $600 million in funds – 72 transportation projects in 46 states and the District of Columbia. The department received nearly 800 applications from 49 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
The TIGER 2014 grant program will target projects that support reliable, safe, and affordable transportation options that improve connections for both urban and rural communities, making it easier for residents to reach work, school, and other ladders of opportunity.
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.
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.
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 that it is awarding 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.
The Sustainable Sites Rating System
By Margaret Buranen - Stormwater Magazine
Developments and projects that involve landscaping have a new rating system by which they can merit credits for sustainable measures. The revised version of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SSI) rating system—known as SITES v2—was released in fall 2013. The new rating system is a joint endeavor of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the US Botanic Garden, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas. It is the culmination of several years of work.
Since June 2010, as part of the Sustainable Sites Initiative, pilot projects have been testing the 2009 rating system created by leading sustainability experts, scientists, and design professionals. The diverse projects represent various types, sizes, and locations as well as budgets. The 2009 rating system includes 15 prerequisites and 51 additional, flexible credits to choose from that add up to 250 points. The credits address areas such as soil restoration, use of recycled materials, and land maintenance approaches. Certification levels include one through four stars, which are awarded to projects that achieve 40, 50, 60, or 80% of the 250 points.
Speaking before the official release of version 2 of the SITES rating system, Elizabeth Guthrie, manager of ASLA’s Professional Practices Program and ASLA liaison to SSI, says that the new version would “streamline the certification process yet still capture the rigor of stormwater management. It will include the management of precipitation onsite as a baseline requisite and encourage projects to go beyond for additional points.” Read more.