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Implementation of Green Projects in British Columbia and Beyond

EARTH DAY #50 AND GREENER BUILDINGS: “The ones who caught on the fastest to what we were doing were the business leaders – the CEOs, the CFOs and the building owners,” stated Mary Tod Winchester, retired Vice-President for Administration, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, when reflecting on the value green building has delivered for people and the planet


“CEOs, CFOs and building owners were obviously looking at the bottom line and not necessarily what it would cost them, but what the operating costs were going to be. They talked with staff and quickly realized it was a place people wanted to work and loved to work. They really picked up on so many pieces of the puzzle. They would go on and incorporate what they saw into their own office buildings or new builds. And when you have businesses doing that you move markets.” reflected Mary Tod Winchester.

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THE FIRST DECADE OF PHILADELPHIA’S GREEN CITY, CLEAN WATERS PROGRAM: “Communities across the country are watching, trying to learn how to do this. When you try to change the character of a neighborhood, it’s very difficult,” stated Nancy Stoner, President of Potomac Riverkeeper Network


Philadelphia’s program involves creating ‘greened acres’ — expanses of impervious land that are transformed either to absorb the first 1½ inches of rainfall or send it into rain gardens or other local green infrastructure systems. The City has created more than 1,500 of a projected 10,000 greened acres. From planning through construction and ongoing maintenance, the installations have required coordination among city agencies and with schools, businesses, nonprofit entities, politicians, residents, developers and landowners.

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Reinventing the Traditional Vegetated Roof for Detention – an application of whole-system thinking


“Green infrastructure focuses on cost-effective, living, upstream solutions. And there is no-where farther up stream than the roof! Green infrastructure is so powerful because it harnesses the simple solutions of nature to provide primary and secondary benefits,” states Charlie Miller, one of the key people behind friction-detention technology. “By virtue of their huge surface area and their large lateral extent, green roofs change the hydrologic response of the roof surfaces that they cover.”

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HOW A VEGETATED GREEN ROOF CAN ACHIEVE MORE DETENTION: “A new technology involves replacing the traditional fast-draining drainage layer with a ‘friction’ or ‘detention’ layer to ensure that during large storms, runoff rates are lower than rainfall,” stated Sasha Aguilera (November 2019)


“Imagine a traditional vegetated roof of customary design. The vegetated roof acts like a sponge. However, when the sponge is wet, the entire system is designed to drain rapidly,” wrote Sasha Aguilera. “Though it is possible to achieve detention via increased distance to drain and reduction of the slope, those two changes are often impractical or impermissible. However, the introduction of friction to a vegetated roof system is possible; thus causing a temporary accumulation of water within the vegetated roof.”

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A NEW KIND OF CARE IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: “To ensure green infrastructure has a long future, experts are tackling the maintenance needs of the installations as they arise — often as surprises — and are working to formalize project care as an official job,” wrote Lisa Nemo


“While green infrastructure promises such benefits, administrators, engineers, maintenance crews and more are still learning how to ensure the installations deliver. Everyone knows what to do, who is responsible. But experimentation with some green infrastructure only began in the 1990s. Some versions are living systems that need specific care that people’s formal training as architects, engineers or landscapers likely didn’t prepare them for,” wrote Lisa Nemo.

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GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN AUSTRALIA: “We should spend less on freeways – and more on our waterways,” wrote Bruce Lindsay, Environmental Justice Australia


“Contemporary urban planning bolts waterway protections onto new suburbs or the refitting of older ones. Water-sensitive development provides for nice water features in local landscapes. Overwhelmingly, however, waterways remain incidental in the urban landscape, if not simply drains then as local ‘amenity’. Waterways are not viewed at the core of development models. They could provide the base for recovery of biodiversity, or a project of rewilding places – and people. This is what we need,” wrote Bruce Lindsay.

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Historic Passing of the Climate Mobilization Act in New York City – Green Roofs Required on New Buildings (April 2019)


The Climate Mobilization Act is the largest single act to cut climate pollution of any city. In a densely packed metropolitan of over seven million residents, commercial and residential buildings are the largest source of emissions and sit at the center of the policy change. “My legislation will require green roofs to be installed on new residential and commercial buildings, making New York the largest city in the nation to pass such a law,” stated Rafael Espinal. “We’ve already seen the revolutionary benefits of green roofs in action thanks to places around the city.”

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WORK AT MULTIPLE SCALES TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS IN CREEKSHEDS: “To protect watershed health, understand the watershed as a Whole System, and mimic the natural water balance,” stated Dr. Richard Horner, University of Washington (Seattle)


In the mid-1990s, the pioneer work of Dr. Richard Horner and Dr. Chris May resulted in a hydrology-based framework for protecting watershed health. The framework provided a starting point for applying science-based understanding to reinvent drainage engineering practice. “So many studies manipulate a single variable out of context with the whole and its many additional variables,” stated Dr. Richard Horner. “We, on the other hand, investigated whole systems in place, tying together measures of the landscape, stream habitat, and aquatic life.”

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MITIGATION OF CLIMATE CHANGE: Researchers at the University of Technology Sydney conclude that Australian cities are lagging behind in greening up their buildings


“We modelled what could be delivered in the City of Sydney and the City of Melbourne based on the measures taken in Singapore (which is voluntary-heavy), London (voluntary-light), Rotterdam (voluntary-medium) and Toronto (mandatory). We combined this with data on actual green building projects in 2017 in Sydney and Melbourne to show the potential increase of projects in each city based on the four policies,” stated Paul Brown.

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Green Infrastructure in the United Kingdom: “These are truly modern times, and we need truly modern water management solutions to keep up,” stated Dr. Jason Shingleton at the Infragreen Conference


“With water such a major global issue, it’s vital that we make use of every available opportunity to save, re-use and re-cycle water and, where we return it back to the ground, we do so in a managed way,” stated Dr Jason Shingleton. Hence, it is imperative that the design of infrastructure changes to become more environmentally friendly. He urged using Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems on the roofs of high-rise buildings to manage rainwater and reuse it to nourish the trees and vegetation planted on ‘green roofs’.

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