Green Infrastructure

Green communities – ‘today’s expectations are tomorrow’s standards’ is a provincial government mantra in British Columbia. Since the built and natural environments are connected, design with nature to protect watershed function. The Green Communities Initiative provides a policy, regulatory and program framework for enabling local governments to create more compact, more sustainable and greener communities. Lead by example. Showcase innovation. Celebrate successes.

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What is “Green Infrastructure”? – Looking back to understand the origin, meaning and use of the term in British Columbia

“Two complementary strategies can ‘green’ a community and its infrastructure: first, preserving as much as possible of the natural green infrastructure; and secondly, promoting designs that soften the footprint of development,” wrote Susan Rutherford. “Green infrastructure design is engineering design that takes a ‘design with nature’ approach, to both mitigate the potential impacts of existing and future development and growth and to provide valuable services.”

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“The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia is the keeper of the GIP legacy,” observes Paul Ham, a Past-Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership

“I see my years of chairing the Green Infrastructure Partnership as helping to get the ball rolling and ideas disseminated, on green infrastructure, all of which has subsequently been taken up by others to a much greater degree of implementation and success. Our efforts a decade ago moved the state of-the-art of green infrastructure to a more mainstream level,” said Paul Ham.

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EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS, IS GAME-CHANGING: “With all the talk about integrating natural assets into asset management, the players forget that nature is a system. They focus too much on specific aspects of the system, rather than its interrelated functions,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair, when the Partnership for Water Sustainability released the latest in the Living Water Smart Series (October 19, 2021)

“Once communities make the mental transition to view ecological services as core local government services, the change in mind-set should lead to this question: how can we do things better? EAP interweaves financial, social, and ecological perspectives within a single number to establish the financial case for a stream corridor system. This aggregate number provides environmental planners with a starting point for a balanced conversation with engineers and accountants about the services that natural and constructed assets both provide. This alone is a game-changer,” stated Tim Pringle.

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IN MEMORIAM: “The University of Sheffield’s John Henneberry (1952-2021) was a source of inspiration for me when we were initially developing the methodology and metrics for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process. He identified the same methodological problems that we experienced in quantifying the financial value of ecological services. Natural systems do not dissect conveniently in order to be quantified and given financial value,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair (October 2021)

The range of issues John Henneberry (1952-2021) tackled was formidable. He worked alongside botanists, hydrologists, psychologists as well as economists, political scientists, geographers, planners and landscape architects, impressing all colleagues with his keenness to work with them and to grasp debates in other disciplines. He was especially good at motivating colleagues and bringing them together to work on socially relevant research. His approach was an inspiration to all. It was also why John was a great teacher and much admired by all his students.

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COMMUNICATING WITH PLAIN LANGUAGE IS A GUIDING PRINCIPLE: “What I am trying to discover in my thesis is what are the existing trends in urban stormwater policy within developed cities. One area I am particularly interested in is communication, or the lack thereof,” stated Charles Axelesson, PhD candidate, University of Venice

“A lot of fantastic studies are misinterpreted outside of scientific circles because the language, style and meaning of science writing is very different to non-specialists. With climate change studies, this can lead to a serious disconnect between climate change policy and the supporting research. With other stakeholders also invested in management, good policy is reliant on strong communication of everyone’s interests. I am trying to take these competing voices and understand how these groups’ visions of future stormwater management differ from each other,” stated Charles Axelsson.

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RESTORE THE BALANCE IN THE WATER BALANCE: Could ‘Sponge Cities’ Help Us Prepare For Our Flooded Future?

“Extreme weather, a changing climate, and impervious streets and roads have combined to create an urban disaster. All of this has seen cities begin to re-imagine their relationship with water. Rather than just designing systems that allow the water to drain away slowly and stably, they want to harvest and reuse it. This approach to urban design – where water is held in place to be called-upon when needed – is known as the ‘sponge city’, and it is rapidly growing in popularity,” stated Laurie Winkless.

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DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCE: “EAP bridges a gap. It provides local government with a methodology and metrics for integrating natural assets, notably stream corridor systems, into municipal infrastructure,” states Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process initiative, when explaining A Busy Reader’s Guide to Understanding EAP (August 2021)

“The EAP methodology and metrics recognize the importance of the stream system in the landscape. In connecting the dots, the EAP program supports local governments adopting an integrated approach to life-cycle maintenance and management, or M&M, of the drainage service. The integrated approach recognizes that constructed infrastructure and stream systems are inter-connected components of the drainage service. Effective M&M of stream systems requires local government commitment backed by line items in annual budgets,” stated Tim Pringle.

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “Through the building blocks approach that has defined the EAP program, we have reached a point where a number of hydra-like concepts have been tamed to become the Riparian Deficit,” stated Tim Pringle (August 2021)

“The EAP methodology focuses on the historical and current land use practices that have changed landscapes, modified hydrology, and have led to present-day community perceptions of the worth of the stream or creekshed and the ecological services it provides. A whole-system understanding is the starting point for developing meaningful metrics. When land development takes place, there is necessarily a riparian deficit. What is not measured at all, by anyone, is the ‘riparian deficit’ from the land use perspective. EAP measures the deficit. This is the most useful output,” stated Tim Pringle.

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DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCE: “The methodology and metrics for measuring the Riparian Deficit have been tested, refined and mainstreamed through a building blocks process that is founded on EAP demonstration applications,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC (August 2021)

“EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, bridges a gap. It provides local government with a methodology and metrics for integrating natural assets, notably stream corridor systems, into municipal infrastructure. EAP uses real numbers, not hypothetical assumptions, to establish the financial value of the stream corridor system. In a nutshell, the EAP methodology and metrics recognize the importance of the stream system in the landscape. EAP focuses on the historical and current land use practices that have changed landscapes and modified hydrology,” stated Kim Stephens.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “There has been much talk recently about including natural assets and green infrastructure in asset registers and asset management plans. However, to do this, you need to determine appropriate values for assets in these categories,” wrote Bernadette O’Connor, Editor, in the Summer 2021 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter

“Each natural / green asset can be recorded in a similar way to built assets. Many natural assets, however, will not have a beginning date and they will not have a fixed lifespan. For example, assets such as open waterways are maintained in perpetuity. Once natural / green assets are listed in an asset register  or inventory, you need to consider how to report the current value, the replacement value, and if the asset is to be included or excluded from a replacement program,” stated Bernadette O’Connor.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The incorporation of climate change into business as usual is clarified by way of the planning process: Asset management + Natural assets + Climate change adaptation = Community resiliency,” wrote Christine Calihoo (Summer 2021 issue of Asset Management BC Newsletter)

“The track record of urban settlements being perpetuated in hazardous areas with little abatement has resulted in an increase in vulnerability of our assets which results in the degradation of these assets and interruptions in the expected levels of service. Therefore, the call to encourage registered professional planners to come together with asset managers becomes an understandable priority. Both the asset management planning framework and the community planning framework resemble each other; planning is planning is planning,” stated Christine Calihoo.

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“Nature is often just seen as kind of in the way of prosperity. What we’re saying is that nature is crucial to prosperity,” stated Gretchen Daily, a professor of biology at Stanford University

Gretchen Daily has spent more than 30 years developing the scientific underpinnings of natural capital and is the co-founder of the Natural Capital Project. “For decades people have been noting the shortcomings of GDP, but politically it’s always been too fraught to remedy. It’s time to deploy something new,” stated Gretchen Daily. The idea of Gross Ecosystem Product is, in many ways, a culmination of much of Daily’s work. Along with others, she has lobbied the United Nations to make it an official metric.

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