Plans to improve green ranking of Indiana


Indiana may stand to have a chance at improving its green ranking with Mayor Greg Ballard's recent environmental initiatives.

Indiana is currently ranked 49th of the 50 states in regards to being green by “Forbes,” and although the state still has a way to go before truly being able to be called a "green state," the mayor's initiatives, along with participation from local institutions, will surely aid in its greening.

As part of continued efforts to green Indiana, the Indianapolis International Airport, at least 18 schools, along with universities and colleges, such as Butler University, have taken part in green building locally and across the state.

Mayor Greg Ballard said he hopes to make Indiana one of the most sustainable states in the Midwest.

Last week was labeled as Indiana's "Green Week," during which Ballard traveled around the state pushing ideas and behaviors that he believes will positively affect the environment and lower costs for the state.

"Green Week" was a series of initiatives aimed at greening the state through the expansion of bike lanes, creation of wetlands, the building of sustainable playgrounds and the promotion of green building techniques.

Towards the end of the environmentally-friendly focused week, Ballard announced plans of the first city-built green roof.

Green roofs are vegetated roof systems used in place of conventional roofs.

The building of the green roof is a part of a project designed to reduce and treat raw sewage overflows into the White River. Green roofing coincides with the Ballard administration's effort to incorporate "green infrastructure" into the city's long-term combined sewer overflow.

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works will install a green roof on a new portion of a wastewater storage and treatment facility located at the Riviera Club on Westfield Boulevard.

There is an average of 42 to 44 overflows a year in the area, but once the green roof is built it is expected that the number of overflows will be down to four, improving the water quality in a five-mile stretch of White River from 56th to 16th Street, illustrating the dual benefits of green roofing.

"Green roofing is not only good for the environment. We can improve lives of citizens and save money," Ballard said.

The estimated cost of the project is $8.5 million, but due to green roofing being able to insulate buildings, along with reduce outdoor air temperatures and the "urban heat island" effect, the completed project will cut energy costs.

Green roofs also help capture air pollution and carbon dioxide. The U.S. Department of Energy has proved that commercial and residential structures account for 38 percent of the country's carbon dioxide emissions.

Because of the varied benefits of green roofing, Ballard and the Indianapolis Department of Public works want green roofing to become a trend in buildings throughout the city.

"I encourage everyone to include it in their buildings. I hope it's to become a normal way of building in the city," Ballard said. "It's a great way for Indiana to stay competitive."

"This is a showcase of what we would like to do all over the city," said Steve Nielson of the Indianapolis Department of Public Works.

During "Green Week" Ballard also kicked off a project to paint dedicated bike lane stripes on six miles of a stretch that will eventually become 200 miles of new bike lanes. He also announced an agreement to plant 5,000 trees over four years.

Along with green building, Ballard is also pursuing adjusting 3,800 city-owned vehicles into a "Green Fleet," to reduce emissions and save money on fuel, in sync with his campaign promises to trim city spending.



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