Building Blocks for Green Infrastructure
By: Sarah Koenig
On March 7, 2016, over 60 people attended our Livability Solutions Green Infrastructure Workshop, co-hosted with One Northside. Attendees spanned a variety of sectors, including representatives of non-profits and public agencies, academics, citizens and more. Workshop topics included some of the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s green infrastructure tools, including:
- Green Valuation Guide: a tool to help quantify the co-benefits of green infrastructure, including improved air quality, reduced cost of water treatment, reduced energy use and more.
- Green Portfolio Standard: a planning tool to help cost-effectively scale up green infrastructure in urban areas.
In order to provide a local lens for these national tools, local speakers included:
- Megan Ziegler, who highlighted PWSA’s green infrastructure priorities and current grant program.
- Tim Nuttle and Brad Hazelwood (Civil and Environmental Consultants), who presented a current plan to transform Sampsonia Way in the Northside into a green alley, complete with green infrastructure and artistic components, which will aim to connect residents with water.
In addition to learning about the national and local topics above, attendees worked in groups to identify 1) near-term actions for advancing green infrastructure, 2) challenges and 3) opportunities for implementing green infrastructure in Pittsburgh’s Northside. Although each group was asked to view the questions through a specific lens (implementation, funding, co-benefits, partnerships or education), common themes emerged from the brainstorming. Some of these common themes included:
- Education and outreach: The critical missing foundational piece for all regional activities is education.
- Partnerships: Build off of existing partnerships and ensure cross-sector collaboration.
- Branding: This is a critical part of messaging – we need a good name to get buy in.
- Innovative financing: Alternative options for financing, including a stormwater utility or fee, will be essential for advancing green infrastructure.
We were ecstatic to have the opportunity to bring together such a diverse group of stakeholders to learn about national tools for advancing green infrastructure and digging into the details of how to advance it locally.
About Livability Solutions:
Livability Solutions is a coalition of 10 non-profit organizations that works with communities to achieve their livability, sustainability, placemaking and smart growth goals. The Livability Solutions program is managed by the Project for Public Spaces with funding from US EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities under its Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program.