Public and private decision makers are investing and reinvesting in grey infrastructure in a manner that delivers the greatest overall value for money and increasingly, are looking to living green infrastructure technologies for practical solutions to challenges such as water management, local job creation, urban heat island, climate change and improved quality of life. Living green infrastructure approaches can complement traditional grey infrastructure, and in some cases offer totally new solutions, with multiple, stacking benefits for taxpayers and all citizens.
Cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Milwaukee are starting to invest billions of dollars in green infrastructure solutions in their communities. Philadelphia is planning to invest $2.5 billion dollars on developing 9,000 acres of green infrastructure focused on storm-water solutions over the next 25 years. The US Environmental Protection Agency is poised to issue new regulations that support green infrastructure solutions.
In October 2012, Canada and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to an amended Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement opening up new opportunities for positive action focused on nutrients and toxics management. In Ontario, the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition launched a major report in March 2012 entitled Health, Prosperity and Sustainability: The Case of Green Infrastructure in Ontario which examines the value of green infrastructure protection and investment and proposes policy changes to reflect the new technologies and multiple opportunities of moving from “grey to green”.
A 2007 report by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimates the Canadian waste-water infrastructure deficit at C$10 billion to meet the waste-water infrastructure needs in Ontario and Québec. The American Society of Civil Engineers 2009 Infrastructure Report Card estimates that the 20-year waste-water infrastructure investment need for the eight Great Lakes states is $71.84 billion. More than half of this is for correcting combined sewer systems.
Given the widespread need to examine new ways of addressing the growing deficit in grey infrastructure, generate new employment opportunities, and deliver multiple public benefits, the time is right to focus on a conference that brings together leading thinkers and practitioners from across North America who are working on living green infrastructure – with a focus on design practice, economic valuation, the private business case, the public business case and the role of supportive policies and practices.
The conference will attract designers, engineers, utility managers,
planners, developers and local, regional, provincial/state and national government policy makers. Unlike many ‘talking head’ conferences, this event will focus on engaging participants. It will provide a unique learning environment to facilitate information sharing on best practices, creative solution making, networking and joint ventures. It will engage participants in new ways of thinking about project design, utility regulation and infrastructure capital and maintenance expenditures. It will provide opportunities for ample discussion and engagement, engagement, engagement!
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