ABOUT EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: “Local governments need real numbers to deliver green infrastructure outcomes. It is that simple. Tim Pringle’s unusual blend of education and career experience sets him apart from the usual suspects in the ‘ecological services crowd’. He is a sociologist who has a working knowledge of real estate finance. This experience propelled his breakthrough in developing the metrics for EAP,” observed Kim Stephens (March 2022)
Note to Reader:
In March 2022, the Partnership for Water Sustainability released Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Local Governments Need Real Numbers to Deliver Green Infrastructure Outcomes. This was inspired by publication of an article titled “Stream Corridor Management – Are streams worth the same as constructed assets” in Construction Business magazine a month earlier. Managing Editor Cheryl Mah framed her invitation this way to write the latter article, “I’m interested in something on green infrastructure.”
Cheryl Mah’s invitation was the Partnership’s opportunity to introduce EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, to a new audience, If one reads other articles in her magazine, they always make a connection to the construction industry. Because EAP is “out of the box” for a typical reader, the editorial challenge was to make a bridge from the regular construction world to the Partnership’s watershed world.
The “story behind the EAP story” revolves around the innovation of Tim Pringle, an early champion for green infrastructure in British Columbia, dating to the 1990s when the concept was in its infancy. Continue reading to learn more about Tim Pringle’s legacy in developing the EAP methodology and metrics to help local governments deliver green infrastructure outcomes.
Ecological services provided by “green infrastructure” are not intuitively understood by the public, elected representatives and asset managers
“The ‘story of EAP’ is about the process to evolve a guiding philosophy, pragmatic methodology, and meaningful metrics for a systems approach to stream restoration. The ‘story behind the EAP story’ is about the passion and determination exhibited by Tim Pringle over three decades,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability.
“These characteristics made it possible for Tim to get the building blocks right. His story begins in 1990 when he posed this question, why are we not talking about the land and whatever natural assets are on the land?”
“Now fast forward to the present. A cascading mind-map describes three levels-of-understanding that provided the reality-check for development of EAP as an effective decision tool. Level One is understanding how local government works in British Columbia.”
“Drilling down, Level Two is understanding how asset management works in practice. Once the first two are mastered, Level Three is about how to actually integrate stream corridors and other natural assets into a local government Asset Management Strategy.”
Local Governments need Real Numbers
“When all is said and done, EAP is about ensuring that streams survive in an urban or urbanizing setting,” continued Kim Stephens. “Thanks to the innovation of Tim Pringle, EAP injects balance into the asset management conversation by giving equal weight to the environmental protection perspective and associated financial case for stream systems.”
“Local governments need real numbers to deliver green infrastructure outcomes. It is that simple. Tim Pringle’s unusual blend of education and career experience sets him apart from the usual suspects in the ‘ecological services crowd’. He is a sociologist who has a working knowledge of real estate finance. This experience propelled his breakthrough in developing the metrics for EAP.”
“EAP metrics are neither hypothetical nor speculative. They are grounded in reality. This assurance provides environmental planners with a sound starting point for conversations with engineers and accountants about the services that natural and constructed assets both provide. This may be the most important message to take away from this Editor’s Perspective.”
Distinction between a Protocol and a Process
“However, the first demonstration applications revealed that the term EA Process more accurately describes the challenge of working with multiple intervenors to accurately describe the ecological services made possible by the hydrology. This comprehensive approach rarely takes place, says Tim Pringle, but it is needed for strategic plans.”
Decisions are made at the Parcel Scale
“Tim Pringle’s career experience opened his mind to the possibilities for blending social, financial and environmental perspectives into a single metric that local governments would embrace. He was the founding Executive Director of the Real Estate Foundation of BC, a unique entity created by the provincial government. Tim Pringle was responsible for a grants program guided by this mantra, use and conservation of land are equal values.”
“In developing the EAP methodology and metrics, Tim Pringle has demonstrated why and how ‘the parcel’ holds the key to integrating line items for maintenance and management (M&M) of streams systems in asset management budgets. Local government elected representatives and staff understand the parcel perspective because this is what they work with every day.“
“Tim Pringle emphasizes that decisions by elected Councils and Boards are made at the parcel scale. Thus, he reminds us, getting it right about financial valuation of ecological services starts at the parcel scale and recognizing that every parcel is interconnected within a system. EAP is the only ecological methodology that deals with the parcel.”
Operationalizing EAP within Asset Management
“Stepping back to look at the big picture context for EAP, the complementary efforts and actions of Asset Management BC and the Partnership for Water Sustainability are building the foundation for a whole-system, adaptive approach to connecting the Built and Natural environments through Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework.”
“The EAP program has shown our partner local governments how they can make the financial case to establish an annual budget for M&M of stream systems. The purpose of such a line item would be to sustain the ‘package of ecological services’ humans depend upon for drainage, recreation, habitat, and enjoyment of property uses,” concluded Kim Stephens.
Stream Corridor Management: Are streams worth the same as constructed assets?
Builders and those in the construction industry make things: buildings and infrastructure. Considered hard assets, we derive services or benefits from those things. Traditionally, we have considered nature as providing the raw materials or natural resources, from which these hard assets are created.
Meanwhile, the age of much of the hard assets in our community, especially infrastructure, necessitates replacement and upgrading, which can create a huge financial burden for society. So, while the industry’s interest is to continue constructing, the infrastructure burden encourages consideration of the services ecosystems provide, at the very least as a complement to engineered assets.
TO LEARN MORE:
To read the complete story published on March 29th 2022, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Local Governments Need Real Numbers to Deliver Green Infrastructure Outcomes.
DOWNLOAD A COPY: https://waterbucket.ca/wcp/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2022/03/PWSBC_Living-Water-Smart_Deliver-Outcomes_2022.pdf