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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PRIMER ON ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: “The EAP methodology yields an asset value for the stream corridor. This value can then be used for budget purposes related to asset management,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair, when the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC released the 7th in the Beyond the Guidebook Primer Series (January 2019)

“The concept of natural capital and natural assets can be a challenge to integrate effectively into asset management practices. EAP deals with a basic question: what is a creekshed WORTH, now and in future, to the community and various intervenors? The EAP demonstration application process has been a fruitful journey for the project team and collaborators. Along the way, our collective thinking evolved. We broke new ground with EAP. Insights and understanding that we gained are shared in the Primer on the Ecological Accounting Process,” stated Tim Pringle.

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LIFE AFTER CARBON: “Cities are finding that nature, in the form of climate change and its risks, is altering how they can shape the future,” wrote Peter Pastrik and John Cleveland in their book about cities that are reinventing themselves to combat climate change (published in 2018)

“For centuries, architects, builders, landscapers, and city planners have tapped nature’s capabilities to absorb and channel water and to cool the air. But green infrastructure has gained significant momentum in local government planning and policy worldwide as a favored way to respond to climate change and to increase cities’ sustainability and appeal,” wrote Peter Pastrik. “As cities recognize the increased reliability, cost-effectiveness, and co-benefits of green infrastructure, they have expanded the practice from one-off projects to city-scale approaches.”

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THE CITY WITHIN A GARDEN: “Human beings need contact with nature and the natural environment. They need it to be healthy, happy, and productive and to lead meaningful lives. Nature is not optional, but an absolutely essential quality of modern urban life.” – Tim Beatley, Biophilic Cities Network

Tim Beatley is an internationally recognized sustainable city researcher and author. His writings have focused on creative strategies cities can use to reduce their ecological footprints and become more livable and equitable places. He coined the term green urbanism. “Biophilic cities are cities of abundant nature in close proximity to large numbers of urbanites. Biophilic cities value residents innate connection and access to nature through abundant opportunities to be outside and to enjoy nature,” states Tim Beatley.

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REPORT ON CLIMATE ADAPTATION & LIABILITY: How can green industry professionals such as landscape architects and designers be subject to legal liability because they fail to account for and adapt to climate impacts?

Co-authored by Deanna Moran, a report by the US-based Conservation and Law Foundation identifies three factors that contribute to climate liability risk for design professionals. “The more we talk about risks publicly, the greater the foreseeability of climate impacts, increasing potential exposure to liability,” stated Deanna Moran. “The failure of previous litigation against major greenhouse gas emitters could lead to a shift in focus on the design community as defendants when talking about the realm of climate change litigation. Standard of care is a key concept in negligence litigation.”

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TREECONOMICS: “We can now calculate the exact value of a tree, from shade to beauty. Doing so could be the best way to protect them – and plan the forests of the future,” wrote Simon Usborne in the NewScientist

“Scientists have long known that trees have far more to offer us than pleasant feelings. Around the turn of the century, organisations like the World Bank and the UN Environment Programme pushed for a rigorous valuation of the merits not just of trees, but of rocks, rivers, soils and sediments too. The result was the landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, which put a price on the services humans gain from nature,” wrote Simon Usborne.

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THE ECONOMY REALLY NEEDS MORE TREES BECAUSE: “There’s growing recognition of the crucial role of urban green spaces in helping reduce chronic, non-communicable physical and mental health problems,” wrote Ross Gittins, Economics Editor for the Sydney Morning Herald

“Academics at the universities of Melbourne and Tasmania examined 2.2 million messages on Twitter and found that tweets made from parks contained more positive content – and less negativity – than tweets coming from built-up areas,” wrote Ross Gittins. “Why are people in parks likely to be happier? Because parks help them to recover from the stress and mental strain of living in cities, and provide a place to exercise, meet other people or attend special events.”

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ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: “EAP provides a methodology to establish what it is worth to the community to invest in ongoing maintenance and management of a creekshed,” stated Kim Stephens when he updated Metro Vancouver elected representatives about successes flowing from inter-regional collaboration (Sept 2018)

“On behalf of the Metro Vancouver Utilities Committee, I invited Kim Stephens to provide us with an update on inter-regional collaboration through the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative,” stated Mayor Darrell Mussatto, Chair. In 2017-2018, federal-provincial funding enabled the Partnership to complete two demonstration applications of the Ecological Accounting Process on Vancouver Island.

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DESIGN WITH NATURE: “People often think of urban landscapes as concrete dystopias, but the future may reside in cities that can sustain both people and nature,” wrote John Lieber in an Op-Ed published by The Revelator (Dec 2018)

“I’m excited about the future of cities for people, plants and animals. I’m grateful for all the unsung heroes who have created a foundation for green cities through science, education and implementation,” wrote John Lieber. “I’m encouraged to be playing a part in facilitating it by working with governments, developers, architects and builders to implement green infrastructure and create green strategies. The future of urban ecology is not dark but bright.”

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Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature: “We aim to find out more about how Sheffield’s natural environment can improve the health & wellbeing of city residents” – Dr Anna Jorgensen, Lead Researcher

“My research interests focus around the ways in which different people experience, interact with, understand and represent landscape; and the desire to see a more holistic and environmentally friendly approach to planning and designing urban greenspace and green structure,” stated Anna Jorgensen. “My aim is often to challenge professional ideas about what might be publicly acceptable, and to test/explore established theoretical frameworks from different academic disciplines that are relevant to my field of enquiry.”

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VALUATION OF NATURE’S SERVICES: “Quantifying and valuing nature are complex tasks. Undertaking them alters our conception of nature. As a result of it, nature appears more fragmented,” wrote Professor John Henneberry (University of Sheffield) in a ‘think piece’ published in The Conversation (Dec 2018)

“Over the last decade, an industry has developed that values different aspects of nature in different ways,” wrote John Henneberry. “Nature appears more fragmented because we have to slice it into categories and dice those categories into bits before we can value bits of those bits. The sum of these parts is far short of the whole and does not capture the interconnectedness and holism of nature. In addition, our view of nature is biased to those aspects of it that can be measured and particularly to those that can be valued.”

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