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Forum on green infrastructure has UB connection

Green

Published October 8, 2016

A policy forum on green infrastructure in the Buffalo-Niagara region taking place next week will feature a few UB faces.

The New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) is presenting the forum — Dig Deep for a Greener New York: Green Infrastructure in the Buffalo-Niagara Region — from 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 11 at the Buffalo History Museum.

The forum is free and open to the public. Attendees are asked to RSVP.

The policy forum will feature two panel discussions between policymakers, green infrastructure experts and local community-based organizations about the role of green infrastructure in improving the region’s water quality and contributing to sustainable economic growth.

Green Infrastructure can help deter and prevent water contamination and stormwater runoff, including events known as combined sewer overflows (CSOs), and additionally has been shown to have a number of social, economic and ecological benefits, the NYLCVEF notes.

Examples of green infrastructure include bioswales, like the landscaped area in front of Davis Hall on UB’s North Campus, rain gardens and permeable pavement in parking lots.

Event organizers will examine recent green infrastructure projects, explore ongoing work in the region and across the state, and discuss how municipalities can further leverage federal, state and local interest in green infrastructure programs to foster sustainable economic development.

Lynda Schneekloth, professor emerita in UB’s School of Architecture and Planning, will serve as moderator for a panel discussion from 8:30-10 a.m. on successful green infrastructure projects in the region and the challenges those projects faced.

The second panel discussion from 10:15-11:45 a.m. will focus on lessons learned from other cities and how to improve measuring the positive impacts of green infrastructure.

Smitha Gopalakrishnan, a third-year PhD student in urban planning, wrote a background paper that will be released in conjunction with the event. Her paper identifies some of the challenges the Buffalo-Niagara region faces in adopting green infrastructure as part of a land development strategy.

The paper also discusses some of Buffalo’s success stories, including the fact that both the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Conservation have approved the Buffalo Sewer Authority’s green infrastructure master plan. The plan is being implemented and is expected to move into Phase Two in 2017. It employs green infrastructure to soak up and store stormwater in an effort to reduce the amount of sewage and stormwater run-off that flows from the city’s combined sewer system.

Through her research, Gopalakrishnan says she was pleased to learn that many community organizations across the Buffalo-Niagara region believe in the importance of advancing green infrastructure. “There is definitely a road map that the EPA and the Buffalo Sewer Authority have produced together. They are very much in agreement on the kinds of strategies you need to move ahead with green infrastructure as a major land development tool in the region,” she says.

The forum in Buffalo is part of a series the NYLCVEF has held across the state. A similar forum will take place in Albany on Oct. 28. In addition to UB, event partners include Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, which Schneekloth formed; GO Bike Buffalo; the Army Corps of Engineers; and PUSH Buffalo.

Visit the NYLCVEF website for more information.