The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently selected five capital cities for their Greening America’s Capitals (GAC) program. The national competition for assistance will help the cities stimulate economic development, provide more housing and transportation choices, and reduce infrastructure and energy costs.
“The GAC program will help state capitals develop and implement a vision of environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate innovative green design and green infrastructure strategies,” says EPA public affairs specialist Kris Lancaster.
This is not a grant program so cities will not receive financial compensation.
Des Moines, Iowa, was among the winners and will receive design assistance to incorporate green infrastructure elements into a proposed streetscape plan.
“We’re thrilled to be chosen to participate,” says Des Moines Mayor T.M. Franklin Cownie. “The city has spent a lot of time in a lot of different areas looking at greening projects.”
The city will focus on a one-mile segment of Sixth Avenue. Potential green improvements will include wider sidewalks, better lighting, permeable pavement and rain gardens.
The EPA will work with local urban design planners and landscape architects to provide the city with technical assistance. The design team will meet at a three-day workshop later this year or early next year to start brainstorming for the Sixth Avenue project.
“This is going to be a great opportunity to apply some of the latest green principles, whether it be bioswales or anything else to clean up and filter water and stormwater before we just put it in a pipe and into the river,” says Cownie.
“If we can slow the water and reduce flooding, it helps our groundwater situation. Plus there’s a possibility we can beautify the area by putting in natural grasses. We’re really excited to listen and take on the ideas of the team of designers.”
The green designs implemented in the Sixth Avenue corridor will also serve as a gateway for other projects throughout the community and the state.
“It’s important that we weave what we learn from this project into other designs as we go forward,” says community development director Phil Delafield. “We think there will be opportunities for the private sector to follow our lead.”
More information on the Greening America’s Capitals program.