The mayor’s office is working on two programmes that seek to futureproof the US city by using green infrastructure and green stormwater infrastructure to build resilience.
The City of Houston is launching two initiatives to encourage green development and infrastructure to help it build resilience.
The latest Houston Incentives for Green Development form part of the larger Resilient Houston city-wide strategy.
The Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Awards & Recognition Programme, led by the mayor Sylvester Turner’s office and the Green Building Resource Centre, recognises new green development and redevelopment projects and promotes their successes.
Meanwhile, the GSI Expedited Permitting Pilot programme, led by the mayor’s office and the Houston Permitting Centre, seeks to promote the creation and continuation of resilience-oriented development projects in the greater Houston area.
The awards programme sets a format for evaluating projects through an committee comprised of partners in the resilience and conservation space, and includes specific criteria on which the developments are to be judged. This includes, but is not limited to, “location and impact to adjacent communities”, “proposed maintenance plans” and “efforts for conservation, preservation or incorporation of native flora”.
The Expedited Permitting Pilot programme aims to pilot a minimum of 10 projects by August 2022, assisting through consolidating and expediting the permitting process for the development projects that it pilots.
“[The] programmes set the precedent of recognising and supporting the developments that have already adopted GSI and resilient measures, and will encourage more to do so in the future”
Through this pilot, the City will work with developers to test, evaluate and formalise the process steps necessary for an expedited review of projects that include nature-based solutions.
“We are futureproofing our city,” said Turner. “The creation of the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Awards and the Expedited Permitting Pilot programmes set the precedent of recognising and supporting the developments that have already adopted GSI and resilient measures, and will encourage more to do so in the future.”
While these are some of the final steps in the Houston Incentives for Green Development, efforts to achieve the goals set out in Resilient Houston – 100 GSI projects by 2025 – “are ever-continuing”, said the City.
The City will work to implement the final incentive of creating an integrated set of rules and regulations for GSI. The mayor launched the GSI tax abatement programme in December of 2020.
Through funding from Houston Endowment, the City’s Chief Recovery Office commissioned a one-year study to identify and recommend incentives to encourage the use of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in private land development, leading to economic, social, and environmental benefits as well as resilience. The Incentives for Green Development Report and Recommendations were released in August 2019.
Green infrastructure strives to mimic how rain falls on undeveloped, green landscape while minimising the impact of development. Typical design elements include green roofs, rain garden bio-retention systems, permeable pavements, rainwater harvesting, urban forests, constructed wetlands and other strategies to manage rainwater.
Green stormwater infrastructure improves the performance of drainage systems and can make real estate projects safer and more attractive to buyers, while providing a wide array of benefits including heat reduction, air and water quality improvement, conservation of native habitats, and improvement of quality of life among others.