Archive for the ‘Urban Redevelopment’ Category

Sustainable Site Development – A Watershed Approach to Green Infrastructure Presentation In Chicago May 22, 2014

New Tools for Sustainable Site Development

A Watershed Approach to Green Infrastructure

Presentation by Tom Barrett


Thursday, May 22, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.


The Chicago Center for Green Technology

445 N. Sacramento Blvd
(between Chicago Ave. and Lake St.)

Chicago, Illinois


AIS Continuing Eduction Units: 2

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Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink!” is the opening to this dynamic presentation focusing on solutions to Chicago’s stormwater problem.

“Stormwater is the leading cause of water pollution in America,” continues Tom Barrett, the presenter and owner of Green Water Infrastructure. This presentation focuses on developing sustainable solutions to water quality issues in the Chicago area. Mr Barrett’s approach utilizes a watershed and drainage basin study to stormwater mitigation.

Developing a comprehensive stormwater plan, when correctly prioritized, combines existing grey infrastructure with new technologies developed in green infrastructure, creating cost effective solutions to our water quality issues.

After an introduction about the problems stormwater creates, attendees will be given a walking tour of the grounds of the Center for Green Technology, and shown actual functional rain gardens and other sustainable solutions specifically mentioned in the presentation. Guided by Mr. Barrett himself, attendees are encouraged to ask questions and recognize first-hand the visible results of sustainable solution planning, execution, and growth.


“. . . best class at CCGT so far, rainwater data, new ideas, charts and stats, all the different ways I can use the rainwater for my home.”
” . . . great speaker, the positive outlook, no blame game, examples (drip system), knowledgeable, class got to participate.

Speaker’s Biography – Tom Barrett

Tom Barrett is an accomplished corporate growth and change agent with over thirty years of industry experience. Tom’s leadership experience, holding executive level positions, drives corporate revenue growth through change and innovation for business start-ups, corporate expansions, and divisional turnarounds.

Tom Barrett has been delivering energetic, dynamic presentations and training for over twenty years. These presentations empower people to become masters of change rather than victims of circumstance by developing tools for transformational thinking.

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“Tom’s been a leader with smart water technologies, green roofs, rainwater harvesting and other emerging technologies well before they became buzzwords at water conferences. It’s impressive to work with Tom because he knows his stuff from the ground up.”

Jeff Carowitz, Strategic Force Marketing

What is Sustainable Development? Click Here to Read More

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

Rain Gardens in a Fairfield, Iowa Gas Station

“Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink,” wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Aging and outdated infrastructure is threatening the way we live.

The American Society of Civil Engineers Report Card on America’s Infrastructure grades America’s water infrastructure a “D-,” the lowest grade in any infrastructure category. The next lowest grade, “F” failure, is simply unacceptable.

Rain Garden at a Kum & Go Gas Station, Fairfield, Iowa

Rain Garden at a Kum & Go Gas Station, Fairfield, Iowa

In many communities our storm water system is combined with our sewer system. Rainwater is treated like sewer water. However, when as little as a quarter of an inch of rainfalls, our storm water system is overwhelmed and untreated sewer water is dumped into our local waterways. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers urban water runoff the greatest threat to our nation’s waters

The largest source of storm water comes from rooftops and parking lots. As human development occurs we interrupt the natural water cycle. In a natural environment, ninety-eight percent of the storm water that falls in an area stays on the area. The leaves of the trees that cover the property as the rain falls, slows the rain down. The soil, which is not compacted, captures the majority of the rainfall. Only two to three percent of the rain that falls on an area runs off. The speed of the water runoff is significantly slower because of the plants covering the area.

Rain Gardens are vegetated areas, lower in elevation than the surrounding area. The soil is engineered so that it allows rainwater to be percolated through a series of soil and gravel layers. Rain gardens serve two purposes. First, the rain garden captures and detains storm water. Second, the rain garden filters the storm water, thus reducing storm water runoff and pollution.

Rain gardens are located in an area as close as possible to the rooftops and parking lots that produce the storm water runoff. Native plants are usually used for vegetation because native plants are more adaptable to the local climate and do not require as much maintenance as turf or other plant materials. The plants in a rain garden maintain the soil’s permeability and assists in filtering the storm water.

The good news is that this natural, simple, common sense approach is less expensive to implement than conventional solutions. Green infrastructure uses natural processes to mimic nature for managing storm water. In technical terms, biomimicry, or copying nature, utilizes the same processes and systems found in a natural environment, before land development.

In the past we tried to conquer nature. Today we are trying to live with nature but the future is in learning to be a part of nature.

Note: This article originally appeared in The Fairfield Weekly Reader

Infographic – America’s Crumbling Infrastructure

Here is a cool info graphic from highlighting the current use age and state of America’s Infrastructure.


Green Water Infrastructure Founder to Serve on the Indy Rezone Steering Committee


Editorial Contact:
Tom Barrett, CEO
Green Water Infrastructure, Inc.
P.O. Box 124
Westfield, IN 46074
317-674-3GWI (3494)
Tom Barrett, owner and founder of Green Water Infrastructure, Inc., has been selected to serve on the steering committee for Indy Rezone.
Indy Rezone is an Indianapolis based government agency that plans to update the ordinances, regulations and design practices to be more sustainable and to improve Indianapolis residents’ quality of life by providing the foundation for redevelopment into vibrant communities. Recommended by Jesse Kharbanda, the Executive Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, Indiana’s largest environmental policy organization, Tom has agreed to represent the HEC  and the people of Indianapolis in this position.
“I’m honored to be recommended for this position,” Tom said in a recent interview. “Indianapolis has a tremendous potential to be a pioneer in green infrastructure done right.  What we need now is two-fold: to get the government and the people of Indianapolis on the same page with what works and what doesn’t work, then we need to combine efforts to make that happen in a safe, efficient, and responsible way.”
Mr. Barrett began Green Water Infrastructure, Inc. in 2009 in response to what he saw as a great need to marry green and gray infrastructure, creating more efficient and sustainable solutions to an ever growing problem.
With over thirty years of successful landscape industry experience, Tom Barrett has held leadership positions at industry leading companies that include: Rain Bird, Kenney Machinery, Ewing, Netafim, and MacAllister Machinery. Some of Tom’s projects can be seen at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, the Gates residence in Seattle, and Aqualand — the largest inclined green roof in the country. He has won awards in quality and process improvement, and is a frequent contributor of articles for numerous publications.

Meeting Warren Buffett

Meeting Warren Buffett (center) with Tom Barrett (right) and John Barrett (left)

I had the pleasure of meeting Warren Buffett on Wednesday, September 28th at the Challenge Foundation Academy. What an honor to meet one the great leaders in America. Buffett’s ‘down home’ style belies his sophistication in finance as well as in life.

The Challenge Foundation Academy is a charter school located in the Avondale Meadows area of Indianapolis, Indiana. This area is the most improverished neighborhood in the city.

Buffett, chairman of Bershire Hathaway, is the third richest man in America. He is helping to support a new approach to urban redevelopment. Buffett is hoping to help break the cycle of poverty that for decades has gripped struggling inner-city neighborhoods across the USA.

Click here for the article from USAToday.