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'Ecodistricts' discussed for new Baltimore developments

The projects could share resources to lessen impact on the environment

June 21, 2014|By Natalie Sherman, The Baltimore Sun

The project is economically feasible in part due to Washington's stormwater credit exchange, which allows property owners who reduce runoff to sell credits to other owners, said Diane Sullivan, a senior urban planner at the National Capital Planning Commission. It's a system also under discussion in Maryland.

"The big moneymaker here is the ability to sell the stormwater credits," Sullivan said. "Our analysis at the end of the day really did say that the benefits do outweigh the costs."

Adam Beck, vice president of programs for EcoDistricts, said demand for creating such zones has risen as growth picks up in cities, and the challenges of climate change become more apparent.

The group is in the process of creating a set of updated targets, which would formalize designations similar to the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building standards. Next week, the group is planning to announce eight cities with specific projects to show what an ecodistrict looks like beyond the planning phase. In September, it will host a summit about the movement in Washington.

"The success of the green building movement has been fantastic, but there's a scale at the neighborhood and district level that provides a real opportunity to accelerate great outcomes," Beck said. "There's been so much interest that we need to help the marketplace and be very clear on what this is and what this isn't."

nsherman@baltsun.com

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