In 2016, an emerging nonprofit called EcoDistricts debuted a framework and performance standard with the same name. The EcoDistrict model empowers smart growth on neighborhood-scale urban development.
The framework is based around three imperatives:
- Climate Protection
Individual, organizations, and cities can become EcoDistrict members and gain access to the information exchange among numerous other benefits. There is even a professional accreditation available, EcoDistricts AP, which demonstrates leadership in the movement. As of September 2017, there are 12 projects registered for EcoDistricts certification.
What is an EcoDistrict?
To appreciate the process of developing an EcoDistrict, consider your own neighborhood:
- What segments of our community are most vulnerable to change?
- What environmental and social stressors are we experiencing?
- What would it take to become carbon neutral?
Ultimately, the community controls the development of EcoDistricts. It’s an amazing, collaborative process.
6 Priorities of an EcoDistrict
- Place – Celebrate culture and history; provide accessible public spaces
- Prosperity – Accelerate innovation through education and career opportunities
- Health + Wellbeing – Walkability; local food systems
- Connectivity – Multi-modal travel for diverse ages
- Living Infrastructure – Healthy soils, water, trees, and wildlife habitat
- Resource Restoration – Move towards a net positive world
Intersection with Innovation Districts
According to the Brookings Institution, a new “complementary urban model” is all about innovation districts. In an innovation district, leading-edge companies and institutions anchor new developments intended to attract start-ups, accelerators, and business innovators.
Innovation districts are:
- Physically compact
- Technically wired
- Transit accessible
- Reflect “location preferences” of businesses and individuals
- Manifest megatrends
- Link economy, social networks, and “place-making”
While an EcoDistrict may call to mind an ‘earthier’ feeling compared to the technology-driven innovation district, the intersection is that they can both be developed simultaneously on one piece of land.
In its second year, the EcoDistricts Summit will be held in Atlanta on October 10-11, 2017. The locations are selected to dually challenge and inspire participants.
Demographers anticipate that Atlanta’s growth will attract more than two million new residents in the next 25-year period. For Atlanta’s current and future residents, it’s essential to develop sustainable and equitable solutions today.
Building Cleaner, More Just Communities
Building a sustainable and inclusive future starts with collaboration across streets and sidewalks. Building owners need to step out of their comfort zone and start engaging on a neighborhood-wide scale.
Here at SIG, we believe it’s possible for developers, residents, and policymakers to come together and create EcoDistricts. We currently maximize our services to reduce the collective carbon footprint of all buildings we touch. The big take-away is that everyone can get involved.
The next step is to get more participation in smart growth from every sector-not just the usual suspects of designers and policy makers. Are you a homeowner? You can ask your civic leaders to support the creation of EcoDistricts. Do you manage real estate portfolios? You can challenge your peers to engage in conversations about social equity.
Living Eco Everyday
Sustainable Investment Group is a LEED powerhouse. We offer LEED training, consulting (new and existing buildings), and engineering services from our offices in Atlanta, Boulder, Minneapolis, New York, and San Francisco.
We’re looking forward to meeting you at the upcoming EcoDistricts Summit in Atlanta-look for our partner, Alyson Laura, Sustainability Maven for GBES. Or contact our Relationship Manager, Michael Cichetti, to help realize your vision of a cleaner, greener, more just community at 404-343-3835.
© 2017 Sustainable Investment Group (SIG). All rights reserved.