Envision Logo


The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) just announced the third project to receive an EnvisionTM award for innovative sustainable design.  The South Los Angeles Wetlands Park in Los Angeles, CA earned a Platinum Award from ISI for the integrated engineering solution that captured and improved local urban runoff and created a new neighborhood park that will help to revitalize the area.  The project is located in a historically underserved area of the city and is the result of Proposition O, a program supported by a series of general obligation bonds.  The projects are being implemented to protect public health by removing pollution from the City’s waterways, beaches and the ocean in order to meet its Clean Water Act requirements. 


The features of the project that helped the project score highly for sustainability within the Envision framework included remediation of the former Brownfield site, creation of new urban green space, and the design of the park to use urban runoff as a treatment-wetland sustaining resource. The South L.A. Wetlands project ranked very highly in many Envision credit areas including:


Quality of Life: The project enhanced public space and restored site accessibility.  Being surrounded by homes and schools, the site made an ideal locale for an urban park with restored natural features and green space.  The site was previously inaccessible to the public and surrounded by an eight foot high chain link fence. The project team developed informative way-finding signage located near the entrance of the park, and addressed safety and accessibility in and around the park by providing multiple access and egress points, as well as installing security cameras at the site.


Leadership:   The project improved infrastructure integration of the regional storm drain network using water from the storm drain network to sustain the wetland, using a series of stormwater best management practices to enhance the quality of runoff, treating urban runoff from a 525-acre contributing watershed, and adding beneficial park space in the community.

Resource Allocation: The project reduced energy use by installing solar lighting, which reduced energy consumption by 77%.  An extensive initial commissioning of the pump stations was conducted to ensure the SCADA system controlling the wetland's low flow and high flow pump systems operated efficiently.


Natural World: The project transformed the previous Brownfield facility into an urban park with amenities including trails, boardwalks, observation decks, picnic areas, and a natural rock garden seating area. A wetland with riparian and emergent marsh habitat was created at the center of a densely-populated urban community, and the land use designation of the site was changed from Light Industrial to Open Space in order to ensure the continued use of the site as a wetlands park.  The project incorporates native California plant species, requiring no pesticides or fertilizer. These open water, emergent marsh, riparian and upland plants contribute to wetland habitat restoration and help restore species biodiversity.


Climate and Risk: The project was designed to be resilient and adaptive to the consequences of long-term climate change scenarios, such as extreme flood or drought. Flexible operation features were built in so that the wetlands may be operated differently. Substantial efforts were made to address the effects of potential long-term climate change by constructing a wetlands environment with riparian habitat at the center of a densely populated urban community.


Loveland, Co RecycleBank Truck


The City of Loveland partnered with Recyclebank in July to not only increase residential recycling in Loveland, but also to give our customers more of an incentive to recycle, by offering them both local and national rewards, and also increase foot traffic through our local rewards partners.  The City not only took the "traditional" Recyclebank approach, by adding local partners, but we worked with local rewards partners and created the "Premier Partners" campaign to give our customers an even bigger bang for their Recyclebank buck, by offering free advertising to our local partners if they increased the overall reward that a recycling customer could earn.


Although the City of Loveland boasts a very respectable 61% diversion rate for all waste materials collected, that number has been static for a few years now and the City was ready to begin looking at how to get to the next level (62% and beyond).  One of the main issues the city has had in years past is the lack of education we are able to provide our citizenry.  The city does not employ any sustainability personnel and all outreach provided on sustainability/recycling/diversion is done through the Solid Waste Division.  Recyclebank was a perfect fit, by not only offering a robust rewards catalog, but by also offering their marketing expertise in place of a full-time staff member.


Although Recyclebank has been around for some time and is in over 300 communities nationwide, there is no other program quite like that in which the City of Loveland has partnered with Recyclebank to create.  Recyclebank’s program is well known and well run, but the City of Loveland wanted to involve their local, “homegrown” businesses more, and when the program began, they simply didn’t feel that there was enough local representation, but instead, saw a larger contingency of large, well known national brands and franchises.


With that, the City of Loveland, with the help of Recyclebank, came up with the “Recyclebank Premier Partners” program.  What this program is, is exactly what the name implies – premier.  Generally, Recyclebank Local Rewards partners offering a “reward” through the standard program, offer rewards that range from 5 to 15% off a meal, item, or service of some sort.  The Premier Partners program offers rewards that usually range from 25% off on a service (i.e. automotive repair), and can go as high as 50+% off for food and beverage items at participating local establishments.  Those who participate at a higher level of “reward” get greater advertising, all provided by the City of Loveland, GRATIS!  The advertising package includes large (4’x6’) banners on the sides of our waste collection trucks, rack cards with information regarding the company and the Recyclebank program, postings on the City’s Facebook page and homepage, information in our Library, and more.  Not only does this help with our recycling efforts, but it also gives our local retail and restaurant owners greater visibility with the increased advertising and the increased foot traffic into their establishments.


So far, the program has been a hit.  We have a very good participation rate from our citizenry, redeeming rewards at many local establishments, and the businesses are seeing more and more people utilizing their rewards.  Although the program has only been going for a few months, the businesses are reporting positive results.  Some of the “rewards” have been too good; we have had requests to change the reward offering.


[Post provided by guest blogger Tyler Bandemer, Loveland, CO Public Works]

Loveland, CP RecycleBank Truck



[This post is an update to Nov. 4, 2013 post "Do you have a story to tell?"]

The Center for Sustainability has received several informative and interesting case studies from across the country that demonstrates the benefits of incorporating sustainability into public works operations.  We are still collecting case studies and posting them on the Center for Sustainability’s webpages.  Consider sharing your sustainability story with your APWA colleagues today. 



Charlotte Old City Hall Renovation Case Study

The City of Charlotte’s Old City Hall, built in 1925, was energy‐inefficient and a challenge to maintain comfortable working conditions prior to extensive energy renovations. The work, funded by an Energy Efficiency & Conversation Block Grant, decreased building energy consumption by 43%, made the facility much more pleasant to work in, easier to control for maintenance staff and garnered EPA ENERGY STAR designation. Replacement of the control systems, major HVAC renovations, and interior lighting retrofits maximized energy savings and staff efficiencies. These renovations were carefully implemented while preserving the historical integrity of a facility listed in the Historic Landmarks Commission.


Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Steele Creek Division Station

The new Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Steele Creek Division Station opened in September, 2012. The 12,500 square foot facility, housing more than 100 personnel, was designed and constructed under the City of Charlotte’s Policy for Sustainable City Facilities, ensuring sustainable design features. These included insulated concrete foam walls, closed‐loop geothermal heating and cooling system, water‐efficient fixtures, landscaping not requiring irrigation, day lighting technologies, white roof and preliminary set‐up for building integrated photovoltaic. Green space exceeded requirements by 25%, with 53% of construction waste diverted from landfills. CMPD Steele Creek Division earned LEED Gold, with energy use 39% below baseline.


Pavement Sustainability Case Study – City of Arlington, Texas

The Public Works & Transportation Department for the City of Arlington, Texas published a case study that analyzes the changes they made to their maintenance plan for streets and roads in the city. The department’s goal was to revise their current plan to address the rising number of streets and roads that did not meet minimum overall condition index or OCI.


City of Gainesville Credit Basin Project 

The City of Gainesville’s Credit Basin Program is designed to recuperate capital costs associated with the purchase of land for master stormwater facilities. The City of Gainesville, in collaboration with the St. Johns River Water Management District, initiated the credit basin program in 2002. The program was created to facilitate redevelopment of properties within the City’s urban core, where land area is at a premium and thus on-site water quality treatment was an impediment to redevelopment. 


Urban Drainage and Flood Control District: Sustainability on a Large Scale – Denver Metropolitan Area 

In 1965, the Denver metropolitan area was hit with a devastating flood on the South Platte River. Following the flood, an organization of county engineers began meeting to find ways to address drainage problems that crossed jurisdictional boundaries. In 1969, the Colorado General Assembly passed the Urban Drainage and Flood Control Act. The legislation established the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District for the purpose of assisting local governments in the Denver metropolitan area with multi-jurisdictional drainage and flood control problems. The District operates four programs: Master Planning; Floodplain Management; Design, Construction and Maintenance; and Information Services and Flood Warning. The District Board made a commitment to develop a comprehensive floodplain management program to prevent new problems from being created by new development, while “fixing” existing problems. Since 1969 the population of the District has tripled, and yet there are 5000 fewer structures in mapped 100-year floodplains.


Case for Leaks Cover


Every day in America, we lose nearly six billion gallons of expensive, treated water due to crumbling infrastructure. Leaky, aging pipes and outdated systems are wasting 2.1 trillion gallons annually. That’s roughly 16% of our nation’s daily water use. Or, enough to swallow several major American cities whole: 


  • Manhattan under 298 feet of water
  • Minneapolis under 172 feet of water
  • Cleveland under 122 feet of water
  • Milwaukee under 104 feet of water
  • Detroit under 70 feet of water
  • Chicago under 43 feet of water


The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a Chicago-based nonprofit focused on sustainable cities, recently released a report titled The Case for Fixing the Leaks, part of a collaborative campaign focused on Great Lakes states, calling for leadership in improved water management.


The initiative calls on state and municipal leaders, water service utilities, industry-related agencies, and Great Lakes institutions to work together on:

  • New research regarding water loss and related issues
  • Education and technical support opportunities to encourage industry best practices
  • Supportive policies that encourage best practices, public reporting, and improved planning


In the Great Lakes states, a survey of water service providers estimated that 66.5 billion gallons of treated water is lost each year. That’s enough to fill Chicago’s Willis Tower sixteen times, or enough to meet the annual water needs of 1.9 million Americans.

Leaks Map


“Our aging water supply infrastructure has been an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ problem,” said Harriet Festing, CNT’s Water Program Director. “The good news is that there’s a clear desire for change. States and utilities around the country want to implement best practice water loss auditing, but are held up by lack of training, support, and incentives.”


A suite of cost-effective approaches to reducing water loss and providing smart, responsible water service to customers is now available. Best practices include state-of-the-art auditing methods, leak detection monitoring, targeted repairs or upgrades, pressure management, and better metering technologies. By adopting such practices, water service providers can save themselves and their communities money in the long run, while protecting water resources and generating economic growth. Dollar for dollar, infrastructure investments create 40 percent more jobs than across-the-board tax cuts, and over five times more jobs than temporary business tax cuts. The US Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates that for every job added in the water workforce, 3.68 jobs are added to the national economy.


“When I travel around the Great Lakes states and across the country, I often hear the argument that it will cost too much to fix the leaks and make other infrastructure improvements,” said Danielle Gallet, CNT’s Water Supply Program Manager and Infrastructure Strategist. “To which I reply, ‘How much is it costing us to do nothing?’ We need to better understand what our water loss conditions actually are. Establishing universal auditing and standards across water utilities is a critical, and low-cost, first step.”


The report is available on the CNT website at The Case for Fixing the Leaks

Post provided by Guest Blogger Danielle Gallet, Infrastructure Strategist & Water Supply Program Manager at the Center for Neighborhood Technology.  Danielle can be reach at danielleg@cnt.org

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