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Archive for September, 2016

The unlikely relationship between Kentucky’s horse-racing tradition and Urban Growth Boundaries (USGBC Kentucky)

Published on 3 Aug 2016 Written by David Heyburn Posted in Community

As Metro Louisville begins the process to update its Comprehensive Plan, Cornerstone 2020, there is an interesting historic and strategic juxtaposition in Kentucky’s next largest city, Lexington.

Embedded within the richness of Kentucky’s horse-racing tradition, showcased every first Saturday in May, is a celebration of a land in which the urban city is but the urban city, and the rural countryside is but the rural countryside.

While the world descends on Churchill Downs in Louisville for one weekend a year for the Run for the Roses, a lesser-known, yet arguably more quintessentially Kentucky racing experience and center of horse racing industry is Keeneland Racecourse, about one hour east of Louisville in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky’s horse economy, primarily centered around Lexington, creates serious economic value—approximately $4 billion annually. Furthermore, world-class horse farms require a lot of land. However, the Bluegrass farmlands also have a qualitative value that mutually supports their economic value. While sitting in Keeneland’s clubhouse, you are treated to an unobstructed view of Kentucky’s natural beauty for as far as the eye can see; farmland that is meant to be farmland.

 Urban Growth Boundaries preserve rural farm land by focusing urban development 

The land beyond the far turn has been intentionally conserved. In 1958, with the purpose of protecting the area’s lucrative, beautiful, and signature Bluegrass farmland from being threatened and fragmented by an incremental dissolution of urban development into the surrounding rural areas, Lexington adopted an urban service boundary within their comprehensive plan.

An urban service boundary is one of many strategies utilized by the public sector to set limits on development in rural areas by restricting the limit to which costly urban services will be built and maintained. In Lexington, the minimum lot size for residential development outside the service boundary is 40 acres, and most commercial development is prohibited.

As of 2011, Lexington had 6,700 acres of vacant land within the urban service boundary, of which 4,500 acres was designated for residential growth, according to Jim Duncan, the city’s director of long-range planning. By agreeing to keep the existing boundary in the 2011 Comprehensive Plan, the community recognizes that “building our brand and our economy means that first we preserve what is special and unique about Lexington — our Bluegrass landscape,” according to Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.




Green infrastructure: Back to basics

Published on 9 Aug 2016 Written by Hannah Jane Brown Posted in Industry

The “Emerald Necklace” park network in Massachusetts is a perfect example of how to build green infrastructure in an urban area.

“Imagine this design assignment: Design something that makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, fixes nitrogen, distills water, makes complex sugars and foods, changes colors with the seasons, and self-replicates.” —William McDonough, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

Any technology that satisfied this design assignment would amaze us. We would praise it as the latest and greatest advancement toward a sustainable future. Fortunately for us, this assignment has already been satisfied. This quote refers, quite simply, to a tree. We often talk about new discoveries and technologies when we talk about climate action.

A prime example of this is the Emerald Necklace in Massachusetts, designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The Emerald Necklace is a linear network of parks and open spaces connecting Boston to Brookline. It is praised for giving city dwellers a chance to enjoy a connection to nature, and of course, for its aesthetic beauty.

Green infrastructure basics and benefits

Green infrastructure is any practice that uses or replicates natural systems to achieve a desired outcome. This includes green roofsbioswales and rain gardens. Green roofs replicate meadows to retain water and restore habitats on the top of buildings. Green infrastructure does not exclusively mean vegetation. Permeable surfaces are considered green infrastructure as well, because they handle rainfall the same way natural landscapes do. Green infrastructure looks to nature for advice, restoring and replicating ecological systems to create human benefits.

Green infrastructure helps solve city challenges:

When it’s hot, we can rely on green infrastructure to reduce the urban heat island. Plants absorb solar energy for photosynthesis and provide cooling through evapotranspiration. Vegetation can also shade buildings and nearby surfaces, which decreases the demand for cooling.

When it rains, we can retain and infiltrate water where it falls with green infrastructure. The retained rainfall infiltrates the ground, increasing the groundwater supply. This reduces runoff, which limits the pollution of waterways and prevents combined sewer overflows.

When we need a dose of nature, we can seek out green infrastructure projects that remediate unused urban areas. These spaces provide habitats for native species, as well as relaxation and recreation opportunities for people.

When greenhouse gas emissions are high, we can sequester emissions with green infrastructure. Plant matter and soil media use and store carbon dioxide. Green infrastructure improves energy efficiency and reduces cooling loads, driving down emissions created by energy production.



First ADVANCE Energy Benchmarking Jam engages community (USGBC Alabama)

Published on 11 Aug 2016  Written by Daniel Tait and Kathleen Kirkpatrick Posted in Community

On July 28, USGBC Alabama’s newest ADVANCE Ambassador, Daniel Tait—CEO of Energy Alabama—hosted our first Energy Benchmarking Jam. This community event was held at the new Salty Nut Brewery in Huntsville and brought together various community organizations, including the Von Braun Center (Huntsville’s largest convention center), and the Girl Scouts of North Alabama. Other individuals from throughout Huntsville entered energy data for their own personal places of interest, such as their church or child’s daycare.

Local energy engineers and experts were on hand to help enter and verify utility data using Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Portfolio Manager is an online tool used to measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as estimate greenhouse gas emissions. By establishing building energy benchmarks of their current operating conditions, building owners and operators can begin to more easily identify how they can improve efficiency—and save big on the cost of their utilities.

“We had a blast! It was great to get together with people, roll up the sleeves and get to work,” said Randy Buckner, Director of Research and Development for Avion Solutions and one of the energy experts in attendance. “I really think we need more of this in our community.”

Participants also discussed the Huntsville Better Buildings Challenge, a local competition to document energy and water use and to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent in participating buildings. Modeled after the Department of Energy’s challenge, this is a fun way to get local businesses more involved in energy efficiency and discovering ways they can improve their operations and save resources.

“This benchmarking jam is the first step,” said Daniel Tait. “This is where we show people the magnitude of the opportunity in front of them to increase energy efficiency and reduce expenses. It usually gets them pretty excited.”



Growing minds with Green Apple Day of Service 2016

Published on 8 Aug 2016 Written by Amanda Sawit Posted in Center for Green Schools

 Green Apple Day of Service is a chance to teach sustainability in a fun way.

On Green Apple Day of Service, you can make an impact right inside the classroom. Advancing a culture of sustainability within schools means ensuring that students of all ages can acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors that prepare them to lead and succeed in green 21st century careers.

Join us for Green Apple Day of Service 2016 and together, we’ll plant the seeds of wonder, understanding and stewardship for a more sustainable future. Here are some ideas and resources to get you started! 

Learning Lab

USGBC’s Learning Lab has fantastic online resources to help K–12 educators and their students easily implement Green Apple projects. More than 300 project-based lessons in English and Spanish just sign up for your account, and enjoy the easy-to-follow, sustainability-infused curriculum on Learning Lab.

Fun Food Connections

You can plant a school vegetable garden to help students understand where food comes from, or engage students in preparing fresh meals or snacks that they can enjoy on the spot. Food is a great way to connect with a wide audience and talk about sustainability issues spanning topics such as social justice, economics, agriculture, operations and health. Remember to track your efforts in increased servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains eaten by students or in decreased grams of sugars served or consumed on campus.

Dynamic Visuals

Signs and murals allow a school to show its commitment to healthy and sustainable learning environments. Great signage can teach students and the rest of the community about the green (or could-be-greener) features of classrooms, bathrooms, cafeterias and hallways. A mural is a large-scale way to remind visitors and the school community about the school’s values. Students can lend their creativity to the effort, and it’s a great way to bring the arts into your sustainability efforts.

And don’t forget to measure your impact! Keep track of the number of minutes allocated to environmental and sustainability concepts in class, or engage students through written work, art projects or even a fun post-event survey.


LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

Chemline, Inc. is a member of The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and has the potential to provide LEED points.