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Pitch

A crowdsourcing platform that provides funds and educational resources to encourage adoption of green infrastructure practices in cities.


Description

Summary

A key element of urban resilience is ensuring effective management of stormwater. Green infrastructure such as green roofs, rainwater harvesting, urban forests and wetlands provide a low cost means of absorbing stormwater runoff and reducing vulnerability to flooding. Green infratstructure also provides other valuable ecological and social benefits to a city. 

Community-based organizations, local businesses and citizens can play a key role in designing and implementing green infrastructure strategies by adopting green infrastructure practices on their properties and becoming stewards of green spaces in their communities. 

The hub will work empower community groups, local businesses and citizens to design green infrastructure for their cities through the following:

1)   Community groups, neighborhood associations, schools, businesses, citizen will submit green design proposals. Local governments can also launch design challenges through the portal.

2)  Groups can then promote collective action around their proposals through soliciting crowd funding and crowd support.

The hub will also serve as a clearing house of information on best management practices in stormwater management and green infrastructure by providing a collection of educational resources and tools.

 


Category of the action

Urban adaptation


What actions do you propose?

The challenge

Against the backdrop of climate change and rapid urbanization, flooding is a serious and growing challenge for cities. The challenge is exacerbated in cities in developing countries where many residents live in low lying areas in informal settlements. In the past 20 years, the incidence of urban flooding has increased dramatically and a 2013 study in Nature estimates that flood losses in the world’s largest coastal cities could amount to 52 billion dollars a year by 2005.

A key element of urban resilience is the capacity of cities to manage storm water effectively. Stormwater here is broadly defined as upland or coastal flooding from ocean surge and surface runoff.

While flood prevention control requires integrated planning and investments in structural flood defenses, green infrastructure strategies such as building green roofs, creating natural buffers, protecting wetlands,  restoring clogged canals and waterways, creating rain catchments and restoring urban forests can provide a low cost and effective means to absorb storm water and reduce vulnerability.

Green infrastructure also provides other valuable ecological and social benefits to a city. For example, urban forests and wetlands can help sequester carbon and thereby reduce GHG emissions. Urban forests also reduce heat island effects, improve local air quality and provide esthetic and recreational benefits to local neighborhoods.

Unfortunately in many cities, particularly cities in developing country, green spaces are rapidly disappearing. In Mumbai, over the past several decades, the mangroves and wetlands that surround the city and provide a natural defense against flooding have slowly been eroded to make room for new real estate development. A similar story has been unfolding in Jakarta where the mangroves are rapidly disappearing. 

Key barriers to increased adoption of green infrastructure by organizations like businesses, schools, building associations is a lack awareness and technical know how and lack of the upfront capital required to invest in green infrastructure.  For example, estimated costs of installing a green roof start at $10 per square foot for simpler extensive roofing, and $25 per square foot for intensive roofs. Despite the fact that green roofs result in long term savings, many building owners are unable to afford the initial costs of green roofs which are higher than those of conventional materials.

The solution – proposed actions

Developing an online hub that engages communities and citizens in designing and managing green infrastructure projects in the city. Green infrastructure projects can include the following:

  • Green roofs
  • Bioretention and Infiltration Practices- rain gardens, bioswales and wetlands
  • Water harvesting
  • Permeable pavements

 

Local governments can se the tool to launch green design challenges for their city and/or neighborhood. 

The hub will not only promote the adoption of green infrastructure practices but also facilitate citizen engagement in the design of greener cities.

Developing an online hub will entail the following activities:

Action 1:       Building the platform leveraging existing technology such a Crowdswell or Openplans which are geared primarily for cities in the US – so this will not involve re-inventing the wheel but leveraging them in the Indian context.

Action 2:        Beta testing the platform in 2-3 pilot cities and in the process refining understanding of the barriers and drivers to adoption of green infrastructure.

 Action 3: Launch of the updated version of the platform and creating awareness to disseminate the use of the tool in select cities.

 


Who will take these actions?

Ideally, city municipalities should use the tool to incetnivize green building . Alternatively, local NGOs may need to take ownership of the tool.

Community based organizations, local businesses, schools, universities,  residents associations, non-profits can all submit green design proposals. 

Architects, landscape designers and real estate firms will also be involved. They may either submit proposals themselves or provide technical and/or financial assistance. 

 

 

 

 


Where will these actions be taken?

While the tool will be available globally, the pilot testing will be done in 2-3 cities in the US and India . India will provide an interesting testing ground because Indian cities are witnessing rapid expansion and deteriorating environmental quality. India’s building occupied area — which is projected to skyrocket from 8 billion square meters in 2005 to 41 billion in 2030 — implies that incorporating strategies like green roofs can help create new paradigms of urban development and resilience for cities across the country.


What are other key benefits?

Green infrastructure can bring several benefits to a city:

Reduced stormwater run-off and flooding 

Reduced energy use

Carbon sequestration 

Reducing urban heat island effects

Recharging groundwater 

Improved local air quality 

 


What are the proposal’s costs?

 1. Designing the tool - 20,000 USD

2. Beta testing the tool in pilot sites, conducting analysis on drivers and barriers to adoption of green infrastructure and identifying elements that will make the tool more user friendly and context specific will involve travel, research, key informant interviews - 25,000 USD

3. Updating the tool and launching and dissimenating it - 15,000 USD

 


Time line

Action 1: August - December 2014

Action 2: January - June 2015

Action 3: June - December 2015

 

Note: The actual use of the tool will only begin by January 2016.


Related proposals

In the US several cities like NYC, Portland , Seattle have programs that fund green infrastructure (eg,http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/stormwater/nyc_green_infrastructure_grant_program.shtml

and provide rebates to property owners who manage stormwater run-off effectively, as yet there are no crowdfunding mechanims available solely for this purpose.


References

http://theenergycollective.com/nrdcswitchboard/433261/obama-administration-recognizes-climate-resiliency-benefits-green-infrastruct

http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/index.cfm