Urban Leaders Showcase Green Infrastructure, Sustainability Connection at Philadelphia Conference


Connect Dots to Infrastructure Asset Management

In December 2010, green infrastructure leaders from around the United States gathered at a conference in Philadelphia. They shared innovations, strategies, and best practices from some of the most progressive ‘green’ cities in the nation, namely: Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Milwaukee, greater Portland, San Francisco, New York City and Chicago. The conference was hosted by the Clean Water America Alliance.

A number of themes emerged during the conference, including the need to shift the paradigm to consider triple bottom line benefits so that, through the gray infrastructure lens, green infrastructure does not look so expensive.

“We needed this conference to share innovations and learn from each other’s experience,” said Howard Neukrug, Chair of the Alliance’s Urban Water Sustainability Council and Deputy of Sustainability for the Philadelphia Water Department.

Holistic Watershed-Based Approaches

Launched in 2008, the non-profit Clean Water America Alliance (Alliance) is working today to explore the complex issue of water sustainability and plan for the future by improving public awareness that advances holistic, watershed-based approaches to water quality and quantity challenges.

A broad cross-section of interests have come together through the Alliance to begin an important dialogue on the future – focusing on exploring and analyzing issues of critical importance to the nation’s ability to provide clean and safe waters to future generations, offering information and education to citizens and policy-makers on key issues, and recognizing organizations and individuals for innovation and outstanding achievements in the water quality and quantity arena.

To Learn More:

To read the complete article posted on WaterWorld, click on Urban Leaders Showcase Green Infrastructure, Sustainability Connection and download a copy.

The event was streamed live on the Internet. For those who weren’t able to participate in the live event, the conference’s presentations have been broken into six 2-hour modules that have been archived at www.waterworld.com/index/webcasts.html.

To read a related article about the conference that was posted previously on Water Bucket, click on Urban Water Sustainability Leadership Conference in Philadelphia: Green Infrastructure as the Centerpiece of the Urban Water World — Cities are shifting at ambitious scales to green infrastructure – a rapid and thorough exchange of experience is needed. ‘Green infrastructure’ is viewed as an effective means to mitigate environmental and social impacts.

View from British Columbia

“Viewed from our vantage point north of the border, we are encouraged by the themes coming out if the Philadelphia conference. One has the impression that there is a growing awareness and recognition of the underlying financial nature of the infrastructure crisis,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

Kim stephens - 2009 (120p)“At one level of thinking, the sheer cost of traditional big pipe solutions to big city combined sewer overflow problems is clearly driving the paradigm-shift  from gray to green infrastructure in the USA. At another level, our observation is that some practitioners are beginning to connect the dots to infrastructure life-cycle costs. This is why green infrastructure is now looking attractive over the long-term.”

“In British Columbia, we are seeing opportunities to bring together two streams of thinking: watershed-based planning and infrastructure asset management. This is a remarkable shift. A catalyst for holistic outcomes is this financial challenge: the initial capital cost of infrastructure is about 20% of the life-cycle cost; the other 80% largely represents a future unfunded liability….because ultimately gray infrastructure must be renewed as it ages and replaced when it fails.”

“We are seeing a shift in the way some engineers and planners see the world. They are connecting the dots between land use planning, watershed health AND infrastructure managment,” concludes Kim Stephens.

To Learn More:

Click on Sustainable Service Delivery: Need for Local Governments to be Nimble, Collaborative and Integrated — The change is here, and it is accelerating. Local governments in British Columbia have an opportunity to adapt and mitigate these changes and improve resiliency of communities within existing legislative authority and current best practices.

Click on Linkage to Infrastructure Asset Management is a Way to Re-Focus Integrated Stormwater Management Plans on OutcomesThe challenge is to think about what infrastructure asset management entails BEFORE an asset is proposed and incorporated in a municipality’s capital plan.

What is asset management