Growing From the Ground Up for a Global Perspective on Sustainability.

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Growing From the Ground Up for a Global Perspective on

Green Infrastructure and

Sustainability.

By Ed Michalenko PhD, President

Onondaga Environmental Institute

What is Green Infrastructure

(GI) in Onondaga County?

• In its broadest sense, GI can be planning, design, implementation and maintenance to enhance ecological services (built environment designed and managed to maintain and restore ecological structure and function)

• Should include soil, air, and water

• Locally we understand GI as a wet weather management strategy, with specific solutions; and this is rooted from the best management practices movement

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Challenges and Opportunities

The driving force is environmental law

– government agencies are tasked with complying with water quality regulatory requirements

Climate change

storms

– greater number and intensity of

Decentralized approach

– necessary to involve individual people, neighborhoods, property owners, business and industry in implementation and maintenance over the long term

All inclusive approach

– federal, state and local government agencies in GI design, implementation, and maintenance – particularly DOT, highway departments, planning and zoning boards, HUD, etc.

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Making GI Lemonade

The “Lemon”

• An aging combined sewer system that impacts water quality and degrades communities

• Court-ordered remedy

The “Lemonade”

• Creates opportunity for amenities: beautify neighborhoods

• Engage youth in meaningful science

• Empowers individuals to make sustainable choices

• Promotes community economic growth

• Community is empowered to achieve a sustainable future

• Act as a model for other communities

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Vision for GI Growth

Holistic

– in an ecological sense, but also social and economic justice considerations

Participation

– neighborhood involvement in entire process (planning through maintenance), inclusive of jobs for youth and adults

Sustainable

- consider GI growth as part of overall efforts towards creating a “sustainable” county or region

Balance

– between local economic benefit and effective implementation

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Goals

The goal of the GI education and outreach program at

OEI is to support and create opportunities for youth, adults, organizations, and businesses to learn and become involved in GI projects.

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OEI GI Projects

• Partnered with

Onondaga County

Water Environment

Protection to design and install a demonstration rain garden at METRO.

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OEI GI Projects

• Provided hands-on training in GI outreach, implementation and maintenance for the Onondaga

Earth Corps (OEC).

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OEI GI Projects

• Assisting Home

HeadQuarters with incorporating GI and environmentally friendly landscapes on their properties

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OEI GI Projects

• Working with F.O.C.U.S

Greater Syracuse and many other local agencies, both government and private, to incorporate alternative methods of transportation via greenways into everyday life. Understanding that

GI is not just about water management.

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OEI GI Projects

• Building the capacity of the Partnership for

Onondaga Creek to educate their neighbors about GI

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OEI GI Projects

• Developing teaching tools and educational materials such brochures and powerpoint presentations for the general public.

OEC youth build birdhouses with green roofs to be used at public events as a means to teach about green roofs.

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OEI GI Projects

• Piloting green infrastructure curriculum materials with the

Onondaga Earth Corps, the Partnership for

Onondaga Creek and

ESF’s Green Train

Program

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Conclusion: Sustain the original green infrastructure

• OEI advocated early for a broad approach to GI –

– Cannot just be regulatory or governmental implementation

– has to be a public/private cooperation

• OCRP (Appendix I : BMPs) – renaturalization of local waterways

– accommodate flooding, act as a natural corridor, and provide recreational greenspace

• Urban forests

• Holistic thinking and finding synergies – three converging efforts – creek walk, GI, creek renaturalization

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