Augusta Joins Elite Group of 7 - 1/24/12
JOINS ELITE GROUP OF 7
AS PART OF ARCHITECTURAL INSTITUTES
NATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAM
(AUGUSTA, GA) The American Institute of Architects nationally-touted sustainability program, Communities by Design (http://www.aia.org/about/initiatives/AIAS075265), has announced that Augusta, Georgias Laney Walker/Bethlehem Revitalization Effort is the recipient of design and implementation assistance to ratchet up sustainability aspects of the development. The local project is one of only seven development projects nationwide to be so honored.
This is a significant advancement for us, noted Glenda Matute, a designer/planner with APD, which functions as the project manager for Laney Walker/Bethlehem. Matute is also the person responsible for applying for the AIA grant assistance. Up until now, Matute observed, weve worked closely with the Augusta Housing Department to inject sustainable features into the development. All of the homes that developers build conform to Energy Star standards, and we try to utilize low-impact development strategies such as drought-resistant native plantings as much as possible. But I think with this assistance from AIA, we will be able to elevate our notion of sustainability to an entirely different level.
Chester A. Wheeler, III, Director of the Housing Department concurs: You know, our overall mission is to enhance the Citys physical environment, which means, in part, that we need to do our best to be better stewards of the land we inhabit. But theres a commonsense element to this as well. The market as a whole is trending toward housing that uses less energy and less water, that costs less to maintain. It makes total sense that a cutting-edge project like Laney Walker/Bethlehem should make every effort it can to take the lead on developing affordable, sustainable housing.
Taking a lead on developing affordable, sustainable housing, means commitment to a process of continuous improvement, as Abbie Rickoff, co-author of the AIA grant application explains: Initially, we developed a set of Green Guidelines for Laney Walker/Bethlehem, which are now posted on our website (http://www.laneywalkerbethlehem.com/overview/masterplan/). Then we began to develop all of our homes to Energy Star standards. We hope to evolve into making our homes comply with the USGBCs LEED program, eventually becoming a national example for LEED for Neighborhood Development. This partnership with AIA should go a long way in helping us reach our goals.
AIAs Center for Communities by Design, which was named Organization of the Year by the International Association for Public Participation., will provide Augusta with a multidisciplinary team of professionals from across the country to improve Laney Walker/Bethlehems sustainability program. According to the submittal filed by Matute on behalf of the Housing Department, AIAs sustainable design team will be assisting with the following: 1) Assessing existing conditions; 2) Establishing a set of sustainability tools to use throughout the LW/B development; 3) Creating specific implementation steps, and 4) Developing metrics to evaluate progress. The collaboration with AIA will likely complement a partnership already in place between the Housing Department and Southface Institute, which is focused on monitoring the usage and savings from high performance energy buildings.
Augusta joins Austin, Texas Sipaulovi Village, Arizona, South Hadley, Massachusetts, Springfield, Illinois Stanwood/Camano Region, Washington and Wenatchee, Washington as AIAs 2012 Sustainable Communities by Design designees.
In 2008, the Augusta Commission passed legislation supporting community development in Laney Walker/Bethlehem. Since that time, the Augusta Housing & Community Development Department has developed a master plan and development guidelines for the area, set up a financial incentives program for developers and home buyers, selected a team of development partners to focus on early-phase catalytic construction, and created a marketing strategy to promote the overall effort. While still in the early stages of the 50-year revitalization program, Laney Walker/Bethlehem has already caught the eye of Harvard Universitys School of Design, which, in its Student Journal on Real Estate, recently touted Augustas project as potentially a game-changing national model for public-private partnerships. This ambitious redevelopment project was the recent recipient of Georgia Planning Associations 2011 Outstanding Implementation award and has been a showcase at national conferences ranging from New Partners for Smart Growth to the American Planning Association to the American Architectural Foundation.
Contact: Chester A. Wheeler III, Director, Augusta Housing and Community Development Department, 706.821.1797 or email@example.com.