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September 12th, 2009
Planning for Sustainability

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Gale_Tony_thumb.jpg Good planning is critical to achieving sustainability. The success of international, national, regional, and organizational plans for climate resiliency, energy management, supply chain optimization, facility management, and transportation efficiency depend on a defined purpose, need, and process to achieve sustainable performance.

 Good planning is critical to achieving sustainability. The success of international, national, regional, and organizational plans for climate resiliency, energy management, supply chain optimization, facility management, and transportation efficiency depend on a defined purpose, need, and process to achieve sustainable performance.

Planning for sustainability in the USA has been primarily led by voluntary initiatives of state and local government, academia, corporations, and nonprofits. These groups have recognized the need to take action and combat climate change through reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For example:

  • The U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement has over 970 mayors around the country committed to advancing climate protection and the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. It focuses on establishing climate action plans and GHG reduction initiatives through programs that reduce energy bills, preserve green space, improve air quality, reduce traffic congestion, improve transportation choices, and create jobs through energy conservation and new energy technologies.
  • The American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment has over 600 campus presidentstaking steps toward becoming climate neutral including undertaking GHG inventories, developing climate action plans, and implementing immediate and longer-term initiatives to reduce emissions.This is driving universities and colleges such as Duke University and Purdue University, to deploy GIS-based transportation efficiency programs such as GreenRide®.
  • The U.S. Climate Action Partnership includes corporations such as ALCOA, BP, AIG, Caterpillar, ConocoPhillips, DOW Chemical, DuPont, Ford, GE, GM, PepsiCo, Shell, and Xerox. It is centered on slowing, stopping, and reversing the growth of GHG emissions while expanding the economy.
  • The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a regional cap-and-trade program covering ten northeastern states which aims to reduce GHG emissions to 10% below 1990 emissions by 2018. It affects power plants outputting > 25 megawatts.
  • The Western Regional Climate Initiative involves Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. The goal is a regional target of lowering GHGs by 15% below 2005 levels by 2020.

Sustainable planning is also being driven by regulatory compliance. For example:

  • The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) is the cornerstone of California’s initiative to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. It requires emitters to inventory and file GHG emissions with the California Climate Action Registry using mandatory GHG caps beginning in 2010. It especially affects refineries, utilities, and other heavy-emitters.
  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 promotes and funds more sustainable planning and activity at national, federal, state, and local levels. Examples include the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) program (which encourages energy conservation and efficiency strategy planning, codes and policies) and State Energy Plans.
  • The EPA Draft Ruling on GHG issued in March 2009 will likely be passed in some form. This proposed ruling targets fossil fuel suppliers (coal, petroleum, natural gas); industrial emitters (power, metals, chemicals, oil and gas refineries); and vehicle manufacturers. It will trigger the need for more sustainability planning by the affected entities.

So what does all of this have to do with GIS? Although a GIS-centric approach appears to be less integrated than might be expected, sustainable master planning and climate action, adaptation, and mitigation planning decision making all benefit from a more informed understanding of the spatial relationships of energy, water, and waste management, the supply chain, facilities, and transportation, and how they can be managed effectively to achieve an optimal result.

For example, at Fort Hood, the nation’s largest Army base with a population of over 200,000, the U.S. Army balances mission readiness, climate, and community using a sustainability-based master planning framework that leverages the latest in GIS and IT technology for both planning and operations.

Fort Hood CAMPS

The base’s sustainability goals are set forth as follows:

  • All infrastructure and energy systems are planned, designed, constructed, and maintained to be sustainable and secure.
  • Fort Hood will actively reduce its impact on regional air quality from all sources.
  • The installation will provide high-quality potable water and reduce consumption while maintaining mission readiness and quality of life.
  • Training landscapes managed to support current and future mission requirements will sustain cultural, natural, and land resources.
  • Fort Hood will use sustainable products and services with active regional involvement to minimize waste and environmental impact.

A part of the master planning activities to achieve these goals, Fort Hood commissioned the development of a sustainable Installation Design Guide to guide green development on base over the next 20 years. Fort Hood also engaged Ecology and Environment, Inc to develop an interactive GIS-based Comprehensive Army Master Planning System known as “CAMPS” to optimize resource usage in a more sustainable manner.

Fort Hood CAMPS

This system supports the application of standards and criteria for all maintenance, renovation, and new construction projects at the 339-square-mile installation. Specific standards and criteria cover building design, circulation, site planning, landscaping, site elements, and force protection. Sustainable design and development concepts are integrated into the standards and criteria for storm water management; water; energy; materials conservation; and the natural recruitment of vegetation in large, open-space areas.

CAMPS makes information readily accessible to support daily master planning and public works decisions. It provides cross departmental access to planning information and the enterprise level GIS and serves as a facility-management tool to track about 50,000 tenants and over 3,000 buildings on an ongoing basis. The GIS enables users to build, perform and save text-based and polygon definable graphical data queries, and map, report and export the results relating to general building information, building capacity, tenant occupancy based on based on dates and type of building needed. It enables the base to optimize building use and tenant allocation logistics. By doing so it enables Fort Hood to maximize the best use of existing infrastructure, minimize the need for new construction and optimize the consumption of supporting resources such as energy, water, wastewater and materials. 

This example of GIS-integrated planning for sustainability undertaken by Fort Hood is likely to become much more prevalent going forward and not just within the military. GIS-based technologies provide clear value in support the decision making process for more sustainable strategic planning and for day to day operations. Furthermore, with more regulatory drivers and funding sources such as ARRA; the EPA proposed GHG ruling; American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) and whatever results from the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen this December we can expect more innovation in bringing these elements together to achieve better results. 

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