Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

Stormwater – A Watershed Plan for Green Infrastructure

The Rain Garden at Chicago Center for Green Technology

The Rain Garden at Chicago Center for Green Technology

Stormwater Mitigation Presentation at the Chicago Center for Green Technology

I had the pleasure of presenting “A Watershed Plan for Green Infrastructute” at the Chicago Center for Green Technology (CCGT) on Thursday, May 22nd. The audience realized that stormwater is everyone’s problem and, over the years we have polluted our waterways beyond what most of us realize.

Our current development techniques disrupt the natural hydrologic cycle. Filtration is the key to cleaning our stormwater.  Keeping rainfall on-site is the least expensive and most effective method to improving our environment

The highlight of the presentation was when Bryan Glosik, of the Chicago Center for Green Technology, led a tour of the sophisticated and natural stormwater management system at CCGT. Bryan did an excellent job of explaining the effectiveness of the rain gardens in mitigating the local stormwater problem.

Here is a copy of the presentation:

Bryan Glosik Portrait

Bryan Glosik, Chicago Center for Green Technology, Chicago, Illinois


Here are comments and feedback about the presentation:

Filtration is key. Water run off disrupt the water cycle. Keeping water in your yard is important.
– Stephen Meyer
The video was great.
The outside tour was my favorite part.
I like the combination of field trip, short video, lecture and case study.
– Armando Median Jr.
What can a small homeowner do?
– David Lindstrom
There are small things that I can do that will make a difference.
– Maureen McCabe

Bridge the Gap Villages Launches Funding Effort

Bridge the Gap Villages Launches Funding Effort for First Responsible Tourism Project in Northern Fiji

 Veteran Community Tourism Project Directors Kick-Off Countdown to Welcoming Guests to Vorovoro Island with a Call to Ethical Adventure Travelers for Support


Vorovoro, Fiji SunsteIndianapolis, Indiana —January 24, 2013Bridge the Gap Villages – Fiji, an organization focused on empowering locally-owned hospitality, announced a partnership with the chiefly family of Vorovoro Island in rural Fiji to create a unique and culturally-rich community-based travel destination. The partnership provides local Fijians with education and mentorship opportunities to empower them as business owners in their communities and leverage revenue from tourism to drive the local economy.

 Erase the Line in the Sand

Vovorvoro, Fiji Hammock ViewThe Bridge the Gap Villages (BTGV) vision is to erase the line in the sand between locals and travelers, helping advance the trend of responsible tourism.  BGTV is making a long-term commitment through its unique model to Vorovoro Island  to sow the seeds of true sustainable tourism over the next 10 years.  During the next decade, primary ownership of the joint tourism venture will transfer from BTGV to the land-owning chiefly family, as measurable operational milestones are met.

 Tropical Paradise

Picnic Bench Vorovoro FijiVorovoro Island is a remote tropical paradise located in the friendly north of Fiji – an under-developed region sitting on Cakalevu Reef, the 3rd largest in the world.  BTGV promotes sustainable community development, environmental and cultural pride, and preservation of this 3,000-year old indigenous area.  As part of this local/global business partnership with the chiefly Mali family, income generated from tourism will go directly to education, training, and mentorship programs.  Unlike the majority of tourism endeavors in Fiji, where more than 60% of earnings leak back into foreign-owned corporations, BTGV is committed to investing profits back into the success of the local host community of Vorovoro Island.

Crowdfunding Campaign

A crowdfunding campaign on StartSomeGood launches today, allowing responsible tourism supporters and adventure travelers worldwide to contribute to the refurbishment of the island infrastructure, in order to welcome visitors in April 2013, and also to pre-book time on the island, through their donations.  In parallel, BTGV is seeking small seed capital from social impact investors to jumpstart the project.


 The Vision

Cahill Family

The Cahills (left to right) – Lucas, Jimmy, Oliver, Jenny and Bethany

BTGV is the vision of husband and wife partners, Jenny and Jimmy Cahill, who first encountered life on Vorovoro Island in June 2009 after they quit their jobs in Indiana to seek a more meaningful existence for their family, including their three children, aged eight-to-14.  They landed on Vorovoro as visitors and soon decided to stay on as Project Directors for the project on-island at the time.  After a year, they reluctantly returned to the United States but with a promise to the chiefly family that they would work to develop a business model that would more directly involve the community in collaboration and rewards of true sustainable tourism.  Bridge the Gap Villages is the result of two years of those efforts – a for-profit business which drives all revenue directly back into the village until it’s thriving and run by the local community.  This innovative model builds on valuable lessons learned from NGOs, non-profit and for-profit tourism endeavors, and input from leading venture philanthropists.


“We believe tourism is a powerful tool with the potential to address serious problem in the world such as poverty, environmental degradation, and cultural breakdown in positive ways,” says co-founder, Jenny Cahill.  “Tourism can, and should, provide bi-directional benefits to native communities and visitors alike.”


BTGV guests live, and have the opportunity to work, as part of a cross-cultural village community. Visitors stay in accommodations built in traditional bure styles and enjoy access to activities ranging from reef diving to over-island treks to taking part in cultural activities such as song and dance.  Visitors are also welcome and encouraged to create lasting impact by taking part in local community initiatives with the local school and villages.   With the rapid growth in the responsible tourist market, and the trend by which travelers want to see their dollars directly invested back into the local economy, BTGV is perfectly positioned to redefine the community tourism model.


Tui Mali, Chief of the Mali Tribe Fiji

Tui Mali, Chief of the Mali Tribe, landowners of Vorovoro, Fiji

Tui Mali, the Chief of the Mali Tribe, says, “We have welcomed the world to our shores in the past, and we are excited to have a direct hand in shaping a bright future for our community with BTGV.  The business mentorship program available to our young people through BTGV is unlike anything in Fiji.  We hope our guests will take pride in knowing they are part of changing tourism practices, starting with our example on Vorovoro Island.”


Community-based Business Mentorship

All primary employees will be entered into a business mentorship and education program, to assist in planning for small business realization.  The high level goal of the project is to help foster a robust set of complementary businesses within the local community.  For example, talented artisans who run sessions with visitors will be set up to start their own commercial enterprise to market their handicrafts.  Or the farmers who manage chickens on-island can be trained to run a chicken coop for fresh egg production, which could service both the island kitchen as well as the larger Mali tribe.  All primary employees will be paired with an apprentice to help pass down the skill sets that are typicallu lost in more mainstream hospitality operations.  When they “graduate” to launch their small business, knowledge transfer occurs smoothly and BTGV has empowered another tier of wage earners in the community.  Additionally, BTGV: Vorovoro Island will act as a proof point for other social entrepreneurs interested in using this model to partner with indigenous communities.


If you are interested in supporting this BTGV project or booking time on Vorovoro Island, please donate through StartSomeGood here or follow our progress on Facebook here

Social impact investors are encouraged to contact us here.




About Bridge the Gap Villages


Bridge The Gap Villages LogoBridge the Gap Villages empowers motivated and under-developed indigenous communities to utilize the tourism industry in sustainable and positive ways by:

1) Partnering with these communities to establish a small-scale community based cultural tourism destination that they learn to operate for themselves.

2) Connecting them with business education and mentorship opportunities to support future business development endeavors in their communities and beyond.

Founded in 2012 by veteran community tourism project directors, Bridge the Gap Villages is formally headquartered in Indiana in the United States, with operations in beginning in Fiji in April. For more information, visit



Media Contacts:


Bridge the Gap Villages

Jenny Cahill



Kaz Brecher


Bridge the Gap Villages is NOT a not-for-profit!

Sustainability – How Universities and Colleges are Going Green [INFOGRAPHIC]

Environmentally friendly design and sustainability is important in all aspects. The editors at Master of Education Degree Guide, created an excellent infographic on how many colleges and universities across the United States are making a commitment to environmentally friendly design.

Read the facts after the graphics for the complete story. It is a great story on sustainability.

How Universities are Going Green
Image source:


The editors at Master of Education Degree Guide decided to research the topic of

How Universities are Going Green

As the global population increases and more countries become industrialized, resource consumption has skyrocketed. Natural resources by their very nature are finite and this exponential development has made it necessary for the most advanced nations to research methods to conserve resources and develop a less wasteful future. As the centers of research and thought in the country, universities are taking charge and standing as examples of how to conserve resources – take a look at the sustainable practices of some of these standout institutions.

Going Green With Green Buildings

– LEED Certification: The premier indicator of efficiency and sustainability
– 100: Total number of possible LEEDs points distributed across five major categories:
– Sustainable Sites
– Water Efficiency
– Energy and Atmosphere
– Materials and Resources
– Indoor Environmental Quality
– An additional 6 points are awarded for Innovation in Design
– An additional 4 points are awarded for Regional Priority
– Certified: 40-49 points
– Silver: 50-59 points
– Gold: 60-79 points
– Platinum: 80 points and above
– Bringing school buildings to LEED certification standards helps create a sustainable future
– Examples:
– Colorado State
– 8 LEED gold buildings
– 1 LEED silver building
– Brown University Commitments
– Existing Buildings
– 42%: Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to from 2007
– 4%: Initial goal for annual reduction of emissions through 2020
– New Constructions
– All new facilities to produce 25% – 50% less emissions than required by state code
– LEED Savings
– 50%: Average savings of gold and platinum LEED certified buildings
– Average building performance of LEED structures are 25-30% more energy efficient than the national average

Saving Energy Cutting Costs With Solar Power

– Colorado State University’s solar farm
– 30-acres
– 23,000 solar panels
– 8,500,000 kWh: Expected annual output of the 5.3 MW array
– That can power 33% of the Foothills Campus!

Student Initiatives For A Greener Tomorrow

– Smart printing: Printing on both sides of paper takes minimal effort and can cut paper usage in half
– 10,000: Average sheets of paper each students uses annually
– 19.1 million: Number of U.S. college students
– That equals 191 billion sheets of paper!
– 95.5 billion: Reduction in paper use if students were to use double sided printing
– 8,333: Number of sheets of paper produced from 1 tree
– Double sided printing could save up to 11.5 million trees each year!
– Water bottles: Cut down on waste and cost
– Bottled water costs 4,000 – 10,000 X more than tap water
– Without any health difference!
– $1 billion of plastic water bottles are thrown away each year
– It can take up to 1,000 years for plastic to disintegrate
– 2.5 million tons: Annual amount of CO2 produced by water bottle manufacturing

Redouble Your Recycling!

– 4.5 lbs.: Amount of trash the average person generates each day
– That’s 1.5 tons each year!
– The EPA estimates that 75% of this is recyclable
– But only 30% is recycled!
– 21.5 million tons: Amount of food wasted each year
– Composting this waste instead of throwing it away would would reduce as much CO2 emissions as taking 2 million cars off the road!
– Successful businesses have reduced food discards by 50 to 100%
– 50 million: Number of homes that could be powered for 20 years by the wood and paper wasted each year

Five Universities Committed To Long Term Sustainability

– American University: “The American Dream is Green”
– More than 25 buildings on campus are participating in a LEED Volume Existing Building certification project
– Arizona State University: Pursuing complete carbon neutrality
– Generates over 15 megawatts of photovoltaic power
– California Institute of Technology: Home of the 2nd largest U.S. rooftop solar installation
– 8.3 million kilowatt hours: Annual energy savings, reducing greenhouse emissions by 6,000 metric tons
– California State University-Chico: Committed to LEED certification
– Early adopter of the AASHE’s STARS Program
– Self-reporting framework for universities to report and track sustainable development
– Catawba College: Building a sustainable future
– Developed the Environmental Services Department and Center for the Environment
– Plans, implements, and maintains sustainability, waste reduction, and recycling programs

Windridge Condos Breaks Ground on Rain Garden

Windridge Condominium Homes to Build Eco-Friendly Rain Garden 

Windridge Condominium Homes Main GateIndianapolis, Indiana—Windridge Condominium Homes, located in the Emerson and Fall Creek Parkway area, has announced that it will build a groundbreaking rain garden. Not only will this garden be beautiful, it will also help to alleviate existing flooding and moisture issues in the neighborhood.

Originally built more than 30 years ago, challenges associated with stormwater drainage have confronted Windridge from its inception.  While the original developers installed traditional storm drains and conveyance systems in the neighborhood, ongoing development in the surrounding area has increased the frequency and volume of stormwater flow around and through Windridge.  While various solutions have been implemented over the years to control flooding and standing water issues, the neighborhood’s infrastructure has been unable to handle the more than 91 million  gallons of rain water that fall on the neighborhood annually.

The rain garden will not only reduce runoff into nearby Fall Creek, it will also improve local water quality by capturing pollution that normally contributes to algae growth, and improve the overall ecology of the local water systems.

 “Rain gardens are a green way to solve many traditional storm water problems,” said Tom Barrett, owner of Green Water Infrastructure and a consultant on the project. “They’re also a great retrofit for many older, more established communities with persistent drainage issues.”

Fischer Design, an Indianapolis-based landscape architecture firm, will design the rain garden. Green Water Infrastructure in Westfield will provide green consulting. TERRA Site Development in Westfield will provide the civil engineering for the project. The project is expected to break ground in September 2011.

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About Windridge Condominiums:

The Windridge community is a unique collection of two hundred and twenty one homes located in a natural setting along Fall Creek in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Touring the property one easily recognizes our respect for the natural environment.  You will see a number of wild animals, birds, countless plants, and trees.  The Windridge community takes pride in maintaining our natural surroundings.


About Fischer Design, LLC:

Fischer Design is a landscape architecture design firm focused on the creative integration of man-made and natural environments promoting environmentally responsible, sustainable, functional, and aesthetically beautiful design solutions. For additional information about Fischer Design, please visit


About Green Water Infrastructure:

Green Water Infrastructure is a consulting company that integrates water resources for sustainable site development. Their goal is to utilize one hundred percent of the on-site water resources at a site. Green Water saves communities money by combining green infrastructure with gray infrastructure and new technology with existing technology to create sustainable growth — environmentally and socially. For more information, please visit


About TERRA Site Development, Inc.:

TERRA Site Development, Inc. (TERRA) is a site development consulting firm that provides specialized investigation, engineering design, and testing services for property and projects in all aspects of development.  Assisting clients regardless of what stage their project is in – TERRA provides environmental and geotechnical assessment before property is purchased, civil engineering design and permitting assistance prior to construction, and materials testing and inspection during buildout.  Located in Westfield and Indianapolis, additional information about TERRA can be found at

Aqualand Green Roof – St. Charles, Illinois

Subsurface Drip Irrigation System

Subsurface Drip Irrigation System-Header/Footer

Extensive green roof utilizing native prairie grass

Aqualand - St. Charles, Illinois