On February 28th, OZ Architecture’s Director of Sustainability, Julie Edwards, presented on EcoDistricts as a part of the Colorado Chapter of the American Planning Association’s 2019 Sustainability Initiative. The EcoDistricts Protocol is a process-based framework and certification standard developed to promote holistic sustainable, resilient, and equitable community planning at a district-wide scale.
The introductory presentation covered the essentials for those new to the Protocol – think EcoDistricts 101. As an accredited EcoDistricts AP, Julie discussed the three key Imperatives that anchor the Protocol, the six associated Priorities, and walked through the Implementation Phases. She also covered the critical components of a successful project, sharing knowledge and resources with those interested in certification or looking to apply the program to urban development projects. She also included a case study on our own neighborhood of RiNo (River North Art District), as it’s one of 19 districts pending EcoDistrict certification.
EcoDistricts is unique in the scale of its assessment and its strategic level of planning. Many times, sustainability and wellness are attained piece by piece such as the certification of a single building or integration of a park. What’s missing is a link to community-wide strategic initiatives devoted to the overall wellbeing of an entire district. This is where the EcoDistricts process steps in and helps bring together shareholders, developers, architects, city planners, community leaders, non-profits, and local businesses unified with one common goal specific to the issues facing the neighborhood. This is an effective scale of assessment that can help an entire community commit to and meet sustainable goals in a broader context.
EcoDistrict Certification comes with time. As a community tracks metrics, lessons learned, and tackles key programmatic challenges, all are captured in a biennial report. These reports are collected in a database creating a library of shared information and useful resources.
At OZ, we believe in stewardship of our communities and in thinking critically about the issues that face each unique space both within and beyond the building. We’re proud to have Julie’s EcoDistrict AP knowledge at hand to help us approach sustainability on a community-wide scale and think of how we can better integrate projects into the fabric of the neighborhoods we touch.