A new report just published by the Southeast Watershed Forum, with research conducted by the University of Georgia River Basin Center, provides a review and analysis of green building programs in the Southeast. The report includes case studies of programs in Georgia, the Carolinas, Florida, and Tennessee, highlighting why and how communities have implemented such programs, and offering encouragement to others that may be considering starting programs of their own.
The project grew out of a collaboration that began in 2010, when more than 20 universities, agencies, and nongovernmental organizations from southeastern states, including the Southeast Watershed Forum and the UGA River Basin Center, met to explore forming an organization, the Southeast Smart Growth Network, to share information on smart growth policies and practices. Members of the group identified green building as an important topic for the region.
Green building—a term that encompasses the efficient and sustainable use of resources in siting, land use, design, and construction—can save resources and money by reducing the use of energy, water, and waste disposal, making it of growing interest to communities across the Southeast.
Southeast Watershed Forum Executive Director Christine Olsenius and UGA River Basin Center Co-Director and Associate Dean of the Odum School of Ecology Laurie Fowler agreed to undertake the project, supported by funding from the U.S. EPA Region 4.
The report was written by Olsenius. River Basin Center graduate assistant Scott Pippin, J.D., who is pursuing a master’s degree in environmental planning and design, coordinated and edited the research, which was conducted by RBC Legal Fellow Katie Sheehan and law students Anne Marie Pippin, Becky Gabelman, Alan Jones, and John Templeton. Case studies for the report were researched and written by undergraduates Alex Wright and Sam Johnson, River Basin Center Project Coordinator Amble Johnson, and law students Alex Robertson, Nicole Babcock, Matt Brigman, Brad Brizendine, and Denise Yen. The students were part of Fowler’s Environmental Practicum course, a graduate level service learning class that provides students in law, ecology, landscape architecture, and other disciplines the opportunity to apply knowledge learned in the classroom to real-world challenges.
Scott Pippin said that the report’s case studies offer an in-depth look at green building programs, including each community’s motivation for developing the program, program structure, incentives, funding sources, problems and challenges, and results. “The case studies should be especially helpful to local governments that are interested in developing a green building program but aren’t sure where to start,” he said. “They’ll get a good idea of what works on the ground, in our region.”
As well as the case studies, the report includes information about the economic benefits of green building programs, a chart comparing 48 different programs, and an appendix with additional information and resources.
The report, An Analysis of Selected Community Green Building Programs in Five Southeastern States, is available as a free PDF online at www.southeastwaterforum.org and www.rivercenter.uga.edu/publications/pdf/greenbuilding.pdf.
From 2-3 p.m. on May 17, a regional webinar will cover highlights from the report and feature green building programs in three communities. Speakers include Heidi Pruess, Environmental Policy Administrator, Land Use and Environmental Services for Mecklenburg County, North Carolina; John Baker, Policy and Program Development Administrator at the Environmental Policy and Energy Resources Department in Tallahassee, Florida; and Anj McClain, Manager of GreenSpaces in Chattanooga, Tennessee. For online registration go to: https://www.magnetmail.net/events?19e80950d8a14369ad14139898d94ed3a
The Southeast Watershed Forum is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to encouraging watershed-friendly development throughout the Southeast. More information is available at www.southeastwaterforum.org.
The UGA River Basin Center, part of the Odum School of Ecology, works to increase the capacity of communities and other individual stakeholders to manage and protect their water and related land resources in a sustainable manner. More information is available at www.rivercenter.uga.edu.