GREEN ALLEY INITIATIVE
With Los Angeles facing the effects of climate change — rising temperatures, pollution and flooding — the city launched its sustainable city plan in 2015. The goal: a Los Angeles that would be environmentally healthy, economically prosperous and equitable in opportunity for all during the coming 20 years. The plan focuses on short-term results and long-term goals that will transform the city.
As described in the plan, key principles of this initiative include:
- A commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and to act urgently with a scientifically driven strategy for achieving a zero-carbon grid, zero-carbon transportation, zero-carbon buildings, zero waste and zero wasted water.
- A responsibility to deliver environmental justice and equity through an inclusive economy, producing results at the community level, guided by communities themselves.
- A duty to see that every resident can join the green economy, creating pipelines to well-paying green jobs and a transition to the changing work environment.
- A resolve to demonstrate the art of the possible and lead the way, walking the walk and using the city’s resources to drive change.
American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) international conferences on sustainable infrastructure (ICSI) highlighted the Greater Los Angeles regional commitment to finding solutions to sustainable infrastructure. As a part of this, the ICSI conference in 2019 focused on creating impacts to the region in a meaningful way that carried forward after the conference was over. One example included developing an initial green alley design that would meet or otherwise align with the plan. The proposed design would transform the alley between the Watts Civic Center, Kaiser Permanente and Children’s Institute properties into a connecting, sustainable, active green space for the community and is still in progress. This location is critical because it is:
- In the most densely populated community in LA with subsidized low-income housing.
- Adjacent to several community resources including the Ted Watkins Memorial Park.
- Near major transportation corridors including Interstates 105 and 110; the Metro A Line, formerly Blue Line; and the Alameda Corridor.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) is a leader in maximizing transportation efficiency and performance while minimizing energy consumption, waste and pollution. While a new tax revenue will fund these transportation improvements, the various projects will need environmental resources and sufficient experience to achieve the desired impact.
Burns & McDonnell is providing environmental compliance and sustainability support services for LA Metro. As it connects thousands of passengers daily to destinations throughout the region, we are helping implement sustainable solutions for new rail routes and bus stations.
In 2020, LA Metro named its first-ever chief sustainability officer to secure its $140 billion infrastructure program and its 28 transportation and transit projects that must be completed by 2028, when the city will host the Summer Olympics. The addition of this position allows LA Metro to continue building on its commitment to deliver climate adaptable and resilient projects as part of its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan.
Our team was asked to support this chief sustainability officer and LA Metro’s Environmental Compliance and Sustainability Department (ECSD), as well as its ongoing transportation operations and new capital projects with qualified personnel, processes and innovative tools needed to deliver stakeholder value.
These solutions focus on minimizing environmental impacts through their design, construction and operations. We are providing support to develop sustainable infrastructure solutions through:
- Hazardous waste, stormwater, air quality and geographic information system (GIS) consulting
- Project management and project controls
- Civil, environmental and transportation engineering
- Environmental construction, design, planning and analysis support
- Sustainability support
- Stakeholder communication, including education and outreach
LOW-IMPACT GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE INITIATIVE
In 2010, to meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, entered into a federal consent decree to complete a series of projects to reduce combined sewage overflows that were happening 35 times annually on average. The improvement costs are estimated at $4.5 billion over 25 years, which would require completing and implementing the control measures by 2035.
Improvement projects included piloting green infrastructure technologies in the Middle Blue River watershed. Burns & McDonnell was hired design green infrastructure to manage stormwater before the runoff reaches the combined sewer system, with the goal to reduce the frequency of overflows within this watershed. The resilient design included integrating bioretention into existing parks and boulevards in combination with more traditional gray stormwater infrastructure to provide a stormwater solution for the project area.
Upon completion of these improvements, the sewer system did not experience more than six overflow events per year, captured more than 96% of wet weather flows within the basin, and helped the city meet the terms of its consent decree. Additionally, the new green infrastructure features allowed for increased pedestrian traffic and more visually appealing community amenities and educational opportunities.