As part of "Green Week," Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced a series of initiatives last week aimed at making the city a greener, more sustainable place to live, work and go to school.
Starting with the city's infrastructure, Ballard unveiled the Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative, a collaborative effort between the Office of Sustainability, the Department of Public Works and the Office of Code Enforcement, which provides a framework for encouraging green infrastructure.
The crux of the initiative is the Green Supplemental Document that provides guidance for developers, architects and engineers as they work to incorporate green infrastructure into their projects in Indianapolis.
"Since creating our Office of Sustainability in October of last year, we have taken great strides toward achieving our goal of making Indianapolis the most sustainable city in the Midwest," Ballard said.
"Public-private partnerships have played a critical role in every one of our successes, and [the] announcement of our Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative will make low-impact development and green infrastructure more easily attainable for our private sector."
The Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative provides guidelines for how to develop green infrastructure, as well as giving the Office of Code Enforcement the authority to approve permits that incorporate green infrastructure to manage stormwater, as long as it adheres to the guidelines established in the Green Supplemental Document.
City planners hope the Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative will provide opportunities for Indianapolis to have more green buildings and more buildings that seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.
"The Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative encourages the private sector to be a part of the cost-effective solution to our city's combined sewer overflow challenges," said Kären Haley, director of the Office of Sustainability. "This opens the door for the private sector to develop projects that manage stormwater in a sustainable manner."
The seat of Indianapolis government, the City-County Building, has been slated for a green makeover as well.
"This marks the beginning of a tremendous undertaking," Ballard said. "We're going to transform the decades-old structure into a reflection of our commitment to making city government leaner and greener.
"We want to engage citizens - both individuals and corporate citizens - as much as possible in every step of this process. Most likely, this will be at least a year-long endeavor, but the end result will be well worth the effort," Ballard said.
The Rocky Mountain Institute, a leader in sustainable design and energy retrofits that also led an initiative to green the White House, will lead the efforts to green the City-County Building. Long-term savings are expected as a result of a reduction in the amount of energy and water used in the building and an increase in the amount of material recycled in the building.
This Friday, April 24, a public meeting will be held in the main auditorium of the One America Building beginning at 8:30 a.m. to discuss the plans to green the City-County Building. The meeting is open to the public and anyone interested in learning more about the process or participating in the greening initiative is invited to attend.
Ballard joined Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White for the announcement of an effort to improve the quality and efficiency of many of the city's oldest school buildings.
As part of Green Week, IPS announced it will pursue LEED certification for 25 of the 27 schools set to be renovated in the next phase of the district's Capital Improvements Program.
"Many schools we built or renovated in Phases 1 and 2 of the Capital Improvements Program followed LEED concepts, because we made a concerted effort to save energy, conserve water and improve air quality in our schools," White said. "We will enhance and document the sustainable aspects of Phase 3 renovations to submit them for LEED certification.
"The IPS school board is enthusiastic about pursuing LEED certification and setting an example for environmentally responsible and sustainable building and renovation practices," White said.
IPS does not anticipate an increase in the renovation budgets for the 25 LEED projects, because the district had already placed a high priority on energy efficiency when it set standards and budgets for Phase 3 projects. The majority of the Phase 3 projects will be designed in 2009 and 2010, with construction starting in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The "25 at a time" approach by IPS to convert existing structures to energy efficient, green buildings, and ultimately to seek LEED certification, "is a tremendous contribution toward making this a greener, more sustainable, more livable city," according to Ballard.
The 25 IPS schools being renovated in Phase 3 that will pursue LEED certification are Anna Brochhausen (88), Arlington Woods (99), Arsenal Technical High School, Carl Wilde (79), Charles Warren Fairbanks School 105, Clarence Farrington School 61, Cold Spring School, Eliza A. Blaker (55), Floro Torrence (83), Francis Scott Key School (103), Frederick Douglass (19), George Buck (94), H.W. Longfellow, James A. Garfield (31), Jonathan Jennings (109), Key Learning Community River Campus, Lew Wallace (107), Mary E. Nicholson (70), Merle Sidener Gifted Academy (59), Ralph Waldo Emerson (58), Rousseau McClellan (91), Stephen Foster (67), Theodore Potter (74), Thomas D. Gregg (15) and William McKinley (39).
One of the city's largest parks also received some much needed attention during Green Week when more than 25 local tree experts from local tree companies donated their services for a tree maintenance "blitz" at Brookside Park.
Representatives from Duke Energy, Bartlett Tree Experts, Wright Tree Service, Davey Tree Service, Angel Oak Tree Service and Nelson Tree Service trimmed and pruned historic trees and removed invasive species at the Eastside park, a sprawling 108 acres of rolling wooded greenspace.
"These companies today demonstrate their commitment to the upkeep of our community assets by assisting the city of Indianapolis in performing needed tree work that has immediate cost savings and public safety benefits," Ballard said.
"Preserving our urban tree canopy in one of our oldest parks is a sustainability measure that improves the life span and health of these trees. In-kind investments by partners such as our local arborists allow us to accomplish essential tasks on a broader scale with long-term results."
In addition to the labor, the companies donated the use of nine bucket trucks with chippers for their unique partnership with Indy Parks' Forestry division, which is responsible for maintaining more than 250,000 street trees and a large inventory of park trees in Indianapolis.
New Nature Conservancy
Last week also saw a groundbreaking ceremony at the new headquarters for the Nature Conservancy of Indiana, which is designed to become the first platinum-level LEED-certified office building in the state.
Once complete, the new building will feature green roofs with plants that absorb water and carbon and emit oxygen, permeable parking surfaces and a rainwater cistern to eliminate stormwater run-off, low-water-flow toilets that use recycled waste water and rainwater, geothermal heating and cooling, and wind turbines to generate power.
Additionally, street-level landscaping consisting of native trees and plants best adapted to Indiana's environment, converting large areas of principally hard, impermeable surfaces to plants and trees, will be added, and the building will have meeting space for 75 or more people, plus smaller spaces suitable for neighborhood organizations. There will be exhibit and community meeting space that is designed to highlight the energy efficiency and sustainable nature of the building design, construction processes and materials used.
It's no secret why the new green headquarters will be named as the "Efroymson Conservation Center," in honor of the Efroymson family, who has made a substantial contribution toward the new building.
"My family has supported the Conservancy for so many years because of their leadership in preserving and protecting our environment," Lori Efroymson-Aguilera said. "Our family has deep roots in this community, and everything we do has to make it a better place. It is our hope that others will look to the Efroymson Conservation Center as the inspiration for helping the cause of conservation."
"The Efroymson family's gifts to conservation, like their gifts to Indianapolis, have been inspirational," said Mary McConnell, state director for the Indiana Chapter. "They have challenged us to move in new directions and to see the larger picture. Now the Efroymsons have challenged us again: this time to reduce our contribution to the global climate change by building the 'greenest' building in Indianapolis."
"We are very fortunate have the Nature Conservancy as a partner in our endeavor to make Indianapolis a more sustainable, more livable city," Ballard said. "Their new headquarters will be a model for sustainable construction, and we welcome it to the downtown area as a symbol of what can be accomplished when public and private sectors work together."