With a growing concern over environmental sustainability, cities across the country are taking up the torch to try to build more just and cleaner communities. This is where the EcoDistricts program comes in.
Starting with a pilot program in Portland, Oregon in 2010, the EcoDistrict program is a public and private partnership to develop new urban landscapes that are environmentally sustainable. On a managerial level, these districts are small communities located within a city where a manager helps direct new innovations and investments within the district. For example, the first project located in South of Market in Portland, Oregon, is managed by Kate Camp who has coordinated with public officials and private investors to make a living space with easy public transit, green spaces filled with new plants and trees, and mixed buildings with residential and commercial properties located in them.
Many of the districts try to connect entrepreneurs, students from local colleges and universities, academics, investors, engineers, architects, and public administrators to help design and maintain the district spaces. Many of the sustainability investments include new infrastructure for energy-efficient public transit, more bike routes within the district, and designing spaces where residents can live alongside commercial property, allowing people to walk to most commercial vendors without driving. In addition, building space is utilized efficiently, with residential spaces built in the same buildings as commercial enterprises. Other investments include electrical changes, like converting over to LEED lighting, which is much more greener than conventional lighting systems, information technology investments to allow more hi-tech private companies to come to the space, and programs to plant more trees and plant-life.
One of the newest EcoDistricts in the country is in Atlanta, Georgia. Picking the Midtown District, Atlanta’s government developed the Midtown Alliance to invest in an EcoDistrict. Between 2011-2012, the Midtown District grew into a tourist and living space that welcomes 6 million tourists a year from new cultural and art institutions and now has 81,000 workers that commute to the region daily for jobs. New bike lanes and residential-commercial buildings help residents, tourists, and workers travel easily into the district while reducing their carbon footprint. As a result of this new growth, several Fortune 500 companies have invested in offices in the district, as well as new professional businesses, like law firms, and small businesses.
These districts are becoming the newest craze in urban development. Citizens feel more engaged with their local communities within such spaces and the environmental, energy, and waste impact from these districts are cleaning up urban spaces. Atlanta is just one of the newest members to this sustainability project sweeping the country. To learn more about EcoDistricts, go here.
To see how Atlanta’s EcoDistrict is coming along including EcoDistrict events, go here.
To learn more about a luncheon to celebrate EcoDistricts on October 24, 2013 at The Atlanta Botanical Gardens, go here.