Each year Climate Change Business Journal recognizes outstanding business performance in the climate change industry with our CCBJ Business Achievement Awards. Climate Change Business Journal is proud to announce its 9th annual business achievement awards. Congratulations to the 2016 winners, thanks to all the companies that submitted nominations, and we hope to see you in San Diego for the official awards ceremony at Environmental Industry Summit XV on March 22, 2017 at Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, Calif.
In October-December 2016, CCBJ solicited the environmental industry and climate change industry via e-mail, social media, its website, industry events and word-of-mouth for nominations for the CCBJ Business Achievement Awards. Nominations were accepted in 200-word essays in either specific or unspecified categories. Categories or size designations may have been adjusted depending on the volume of nominations or the number of worthy recipients. Final awards were determined by a committee of CCBJ staff and CCBJ editorial advisory board members.
Disclaimer: Company audits were not conducted to verify information or claims submitted with nominations.
Business Achievement: Growth - GHG Mitigation Practice
WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff USA‘s Sustainability and Energy group for posting impressive and persistent growth. Since 2009, the group has maintained average annual organic growth of about 20% in its full-time employee head count-with 30% growth in employees in 2016 and 20% growth in revenues, according to the firm.
The group credits its success to its ability to discern clients’ changing needs and determining the best ways to meet those needs. In 2016, the company increased its capability to deliver green Power Purchase Agreement advisory services, expanded its product life cycle assessment capabilities and strengthened its enterprise energy management delivery capacity. The group reports that its more progressive clients have informed them that in 2017 they will seek to double down on their industry-leading sustainability programs.
Business Achievement: Growth - Low Carbon Energy
Southern Company for continuing to build its renewable energy portfolio-which exceeded 2,700 MW from 33 solar, wind and biomass facilities announced, acquired or under construction by the end of 2016-and advancing the growth of clean distributed generation and energy storage with deals such as its 50 MW fuel cell deal with Bloom Energy. In that contract, Southern’s subsidiary PowerSecure will package Bloom Energy’s fuel cells with Lithium-ion batteries and power electronics and market the systems to corporate and industrial customers.
Other notable 2016 milestones include Southern Power and Recurrent Energy’s commissioning of the 200 MW Garland Solar powerplant in California, and the acquisition, with SunPower, of the 100 MW under-construction Boulder Solar I project in Colorado.
In addition to these deals by Southern Company’s competitive energy market subsidiaries, the firm’s regulated subsidiaries including Georgia Power, Alabama Power and Gulf Power have begun procuring hundreds of MW of utility-scale solar annually-with much of the activity driven by the demands of corporate customers for clean energy and long-term electricity supply contracts. For example, in a deal approved by state regulators in June 2016, Alabama Power will commission Origis Energy to build a 72 MW, $140 million solar power project for Walmart in Chambers County, Ala.
This reflects the rapid growth of solar power in the Southeast, where price competitiveness and the green-energy goals of corporate energy consumers-rather than state renewable energy policies-are driving the markets for solar power.
Norway’s state-owned oil company Statoil for sharply increasing its investment in offshore wind power development and RD&D. In December, the firm won the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s auction for an area offshore of Long Island which is expected to accommodate up to 800 MW of wind power. According to Greentech Media, Statoil competed against five other bidders through 33 rounds of bidding before emerging victorious with its $42.5 million bid for the lease.
Closer to home, Statoil began onshore construction in 2016 on the 30 MW Hywind floating offshore wind turbine pilot project on the Scottish coast. The development of floating turbines like the five Siemens 6 MW turbines to be deployed at Hywind is seen as vitally important to the continuing growth of offshore wind power. Bottom-fixed turbines cannot be used on 95% of the world’s ocean coastlines, according to a report by DNV GL.
Tesla and Panasonic for beginning production at their new Gigafactory in Nevada. At peak production, the Lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility is expected to directly employ 6,500 people. The scale of production is expected to reduce battery costs further, enabling Tesla to price its forthcoming Model 3 for $35,000 and to serve the growing markets for distributed grid energy storage-a market which Tesla, Panasonic and Tesla subsidiary SolarCity are already pushing ahead with their solar battery farm on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. As reported by Fortune, the island’s utility KIUC will pay 13.9 cents per kWh for the combined energy and storage capacity.
Meanwhile, Tesla Energy’s acquisition of SolarCity, completed in November, will lead to development of a solar PV roofing material that Tesla chairman Elon Musk says will be equivalent in cost or cheaper than normal roofing material by mid-2017, according to Bloomberg.
Waste Management for continuing its ambitious program to convert its fleet of approximately 18,500 collection vehicles from diesel to CNG and LNG-thereby reducing the GHG emissions associated with its operations by 21% per truck. In 2016, the company’s fleet of natural-gas vehicles grew to almost 6,000 trucks, or 30% of its total collection fleet. It also added 14 new natural gas fueling stations bringing the total to 98. Additionally, Waste Management continues to develop its use of renewable natural gas (RNG) from biogas generated at landfills or anaerobic digesters. By the end of 2016, 40% of its fleet used RNG, including 100% of its California fleet.
Consulting & Engineering: Climate Change Adaptation & Resilience
AECOM for supporting the City of Miami Beach with adaptation and resilience planning to protect its built environment from rising sea levels and increased flooding. Targeted to Miami’s Flood Mitigation and Infrastructure Improvement plan, AECOM researched the feasibility of increasing building floor elevations in a study titled “Adaptation Strategies to Combat Sea Level Rise.”
AECOM identified revisions needed to the City’s building, zoning, and land development regulations to provide greater resilience; policy changes and development of implementation guidelines; and recommend actions and adaptation strategies. AECOM also facilitated stakeholder engagement. In 2016, many ordinances were updated by the City Commission, including definition of freeboard elevations above the city’s base flood elevation, setting seawall minimum heights, increases in minimum yard elevations, and changes in building setbacks. Other strategies are under discussion.
Arcadis for its post-Sandy Coney Island Creek Resiliency Study. When Hurricane Sandy hit New York, Coney Island was one of the communities to suffer the worst damage. In anticipation of storm events, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency commissioned Arcadis to prepare the study and develop recommendations for improved flood protection that minimize environmental impact, improve water quality and enhance community recreation while mitigating the dangers posed by storms and rising sea level.
Arcadis’s proposed measures included an in-water tidal barrier to maintain tidal flow, water quality and circulation; fostering ecological diversity through habitat-enhanced bulkhead designs, natural storm water treatments and wetlands restoration; enhancing waterfront and harbor views with elevated trails; and enhancing connectivity between neighborhoods with walking berms that cross the creek.
CH2M for its Tacoma Flood Protection project for the City of Tacoma’s Central Wastewater Treatment Plant. Currently protected from routine flooding by a series of levees, the plant is at increased risk from flooding due to possible failure or overtopping of the levee system upstream. The plant has had close calls in the past, including 2009 water levels in the Puyallup River so high that emergency sandbagging operations were employed to protect the plant.
To mitigate this risk, the City and CH2M worked together to provide flood protection by designing a 2,500-foot-long floodwall, including automatic gates at vehicle entrances, and an emergency pump station inside the plant. The floodwall also protects against groundwater intrusion by extending up to 25 feet below ground. The plant treats 30 MGD during wet weather and up to 130 MGD during storm events. In August 2016, the American Public Works Assn. selected the project as one of its 2016 Public Works Projects of the Year in the Disaster/Emergency Preparedness category.
R.V. Anderson for championing asset management and resiliency in its work with Canadian local governments and infrastructure managers. A mid-sized firm with about 250 employees, the firm supported development more than 10 years ago of the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC) climate risk management methodology by Engineers Canada, the leading professional engineers group in Canada. In 2016 one of R.V. Anderson’s senior executives became one of the first engineers to be certified as an Infrastructure Resilience Professional by Engineers Canada.
R.V. Anderson also seeks to integrate the Lean Six Sigma approach to process optimization into public sector asset management. Rare in the public sector, this value-engineering approach has allowed at least one R.V. Anderson client, Fredericton, New Brunswick, to save approximately $1.5 million annually, according to the firm. R.V. Anderson expects the market for public sector asset management consulting to grow quickly over the next few years in Canada as a new federal policy will require such plans for local governments to continue receiving a share of revenues from the federal excise (sales) tax on gasoline.
Woodard & Curran for providing a critical mix of hazard mitigation, climate change and energy consulting to help local governments and institutions develop comprehensive resiliency plans and, in many cases, help secure the funding expertise needed to fulfill those plans. In 2016, the firm completed a comprehensive climate assessment of Rhode Island’s 19 wastewater treatment facilities. The work included user-friendly briefs for each facility with adaptive strategies and cost estimates. At the end of the year, the firm was preparing environmental assessments for some of the projects.
Woodard & Curran also continued to help the City of Salem, Mass., by securing a Coastal Protection Grant from the Dam and Seawall Program at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The grant will fund 75% of the $200,000 cost to design and permit the replacement of an approximately 60-year-old deteriorating concrete seawall.
Also in 2016, the firm completed a Multi-Campus Hazard Mitigation Plan for all 17 Connecticut State Colleges & Universities campuses. Woodard & Curran helped CSCU fund its mitigation plans with $950,000 from the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program-the federal agency’s only hazard mitigation program that accepts proposals from colleges and universities. This year, with $1 million from the same FEMA grant program, Woodard & Curran helped the University of Massachusetts system improve its response to natural threats through the purchase of emergency generators. This project grew out of the multi-campus hazard mitigation plan the firm completed for UMass, which was approved by FEMA and MEMA in 2016.
Consulting & Engineering: Low-Carbon Energy Practice
Blymyer Engineers for its structural, mechanical and electrical engineering work on utility-scale solar power projects. During 2015-2016, the firm performed engineering services for more than 15 utility-scale solar projects ranging from the 9 MW Aspiration G Solar project in Fresno County, Calif., to the 150 MW Springbok II Solar project in Cantil, Calif.
The firm has been in solar engineering since 2003 when it started with kW-scale projects. It now works with many leading EPC firms including Swinerton, OpTerra and SunPower. The company also works with major solar energy developers such as First Solar, EDF, SolarWorld and Hanwah Solar. Blymyer is moving into energy storage systems, and in 2016 it announced a set of seven storage projects with Tesla.
With a portfolio of 2.5 GW of completed designs, Blymyer has the largest engineering portfolio of solar project designs in North America, according to the firm. Blymyer estimates the cumulative GHG mitigation of solar projects it has worked on at almost 1.2 million metric tons of CO2e annually.
ICF for supporting low-carbon electric power development in Ghana and Tanzania for USAID’s Power Africa program. Both countries have low levels of electrification (15% in Tanzania and 64% in Ghana) and need to dramatically expand their generation and distribution infrastructure to improve their economies and living conditions.
ICF used an Integrated Resource Resilience Planning (IRRP) process-an innovation on the IRRP process widely used in developed countries for electricity systems-to analyze the electric power sectors’ resilience to impacts of climate change in both countries, particularly for hydropower resources. The IRRPs included scenario-based analyses of resilient resource options, considering risks and uncertainties in the cost and performance of generation technologies, fuel prices and availability, and transmission links. They also evaluated how future renewable energy, energy efficiency, distributed generation and other demand-side resources can be integrated into transmission and distribution planning. ICF expects that the innovative planning work will help create more compelling cases for public and private sector investment in electric power projects in both countries.
Consulting & Engineering: Energy and Carbon Management
Brendle Group for its continuing work in energy efficiency and GHG mitigation with the University of California, the Colorado Energy Office and ski areas. For UC, the 20-person firm facilitated a series of half-day planning charrettes on eight campuses with the UC’s Climate Change Working Group to develop strategies to meet the UC Office of the President’s pledge to be carbon neutral in scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2025. The Colorado program provides free energy and water audits, technical assistance, coaching and implementation support for Colorado’s rural schools to improve energy and water efficiency and evaluated renewable energy opportunities.
Fort Collins, Colo.-based Brendle Group has also worked for years with the ski industry to mitigate its GHGs. In 2016, the firm helped launch the Utah Climate Action Network and supported the National Ski Area Assn. Climate Challenge in reaching 30 voluntary participants.
Business Model Innovation: Energy and Carbon Management
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections and GreenPrisons.org for creating a model of energy and resource efficiency in prisons-a category of institutions in which managers have tended not to prioritize sustainability or greenhouse gas mitigation. With assistance from GreenPrisons.org, ODRC has implemented energy conservation, recycling and other sustainability programs that are saving 6,900 MWh of electricity, 350,000 Mcf of natural gas and 12 million gallons of water annually.
By 2016, the 27-prison system’s partnership with Ohio State University to process recyclables had increased the diversion rate at OSU’s stadium to over 95%. ODRC also procured in 2016 the JadeTrack solution to better capture and manage data for utility usage, recycling and other sustainability measures. It also completed construction of one energy performance contract, continued construction of two others and set aggressive timelines for six smaller performance contracts in 2017. ODRC also partnered with ICON, a plumbing controls vendor, on an inmate job-training program, certifying 11 inmates in 2016. And it registered its first LEED certified building, currently in design.
ODRC is a model for other prison systems. It has supported the American Corrections Assn. Sustainability Committee, and was pleased when ACA made this a permanent committee in 2016. “This was a really a big deal in our industry,” said Leah Morgan, Energy Conservation & Sustainability Administrator, crediting her colleagues at GreenPrisons.org. “We are one of the states leading in this area, but the movement would not have this kind of visibility or impact without the work of GreenPrisons and the ACA committee.”
Business Model Innovation: Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience
Re:focus for launching The Atlas Marketplace, a first-of-its-kind online resource to help local governments find, compare and procure design and other services for resilient infrastructure. The Atlas (www.the-atlas.com) features a growing list of more than 220 infrastructure projects sorted by project type and impact addressed-coastal floods, drought, inland floods, etc. Almost 20 cities had created profiles by the end of the year, including Atlanta, Boston, Denver, El Paso, Los Angeles, Miami Beach, New Orleans, Norfolk and San Francisco.
Atkins is the Atlas Marketplace’s anchor vendor and helped Re:focus think through the structure of the site. While only one other vendor-Clear Cove Systems, a wastewater treatment technology firm that specializes in anaerobic digestion-had signed on by the end of the year, Re:focus reports that it is in negotiations with other firms to subscribe.
Advancing Best Practices: Low-Carbon Energy
Korea Environment Corporation (KECO) for building on its first successful Eco-friendly Energy Town pilot project to initiate eight additional Eco-friendly Energy Town projects slated to be completed by mid-2017. The $11 million project established by KECO and SK Group in rural Hongcheon features a bio-gas plant that turns livestock manure and food waste into biogas; a compost facility that transforms manure and sewage sediment into compost and liquid fertilizer; a 343 kW solar array; and a 17 kW microhydro plant.
According to KECO, the Eco-Friendly Energy Town initiative aims to both promote environmentally friendly, low-carbon energy technologies and also to show residents of other rural towns and villages that manure and sewage can be turned into fuel at local facilities without significant impacts such as noxious odors.
The private investor in the Hongcheon project was SK E&S, which contributed just under $1 million. SK E&S is the gas and electric power division of SK Group. According to the Korea Herald, chairman of SK Group Chey Tae-Won said in June 2016 that the Eco-Friendly Energy Town initiative not only solves environmental problems but also improves the profitability of farmers.
Advancing Best Practices: Low-Carbon, Resilient Design
Van van Zelm Engineers for pushing the boundaries of efficient and resilient design and clean-energy microgrids. In 2016, the firm was working with institutions and public and private clients on clean microgrids capable of supplying the host, the local grid and islanding in the event of outages.
With developer Gotham 360, van Zelm was working on a microgrid network for four healthcare facilities in the East Bronx that would leverage existing steam generation with a variety of other technologies. A microgrid project for the Parkville neighborhood of Hartford, on which the firm performed preliminary engineering, will see Constellation deploying Bloom Energy fuels cells to create a 800 kW microgrid designed to power an elementary school, library, senior center, health center, grocery store and gas station.
At the end of the year, the firm told CCBJ that is working with an un-named client on a 20 MW PV microgrid with batteries for a town center. And for a university it was evaluating a pioneering energy system that would replace an aging oil-fired boiler and steam CHP with a low-temperature hot water system using heat pump chiller/heaters and an Organic Rankine Cycle biomass power plant designed to burn sustainably harvested woodchips.
van Zelm is also helping Harvard University make its new Science and Engineering Complex, located near the Charles River, flood resilient with an elevated central energy plant, building elevations above the 100-year floodplain, a perimeter berm and flood mitigation pumps. Van The project team includes van Zelm is as mechanical and electrical engineer, while the architect is Behnisch Architekten, landscape architect is Stephen Stimson Associates and stormwater engineer is Nitsch Engineering.
Advancing Best Practices: Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience
CH2M for its work with Newmont, one of the world’s leading gold producers, on a climate resiliency program and analysis of exposure to climate-related risks across Newmont’s worldwide portfolio. Among the risks addressed is curtailment of hydroelectric power supply during droughts, a factor that has already caused unexpected power outages at the company’s mines in Ghana.
Newmont and CH2M analyzed future climate conditions in Ghana, which demonstrated that water shortages for hydro generation were likely to become more severe, a data point that highlighted the importance of greater investment in onsite power generation. The analysis also showed that increased competition for water is likely. Newmont and CH2M shared the findings with the Ghanaian government to assist with its climate planning.
The Newmont-CH2M team then developed guidance and tools for evaluating climate risk across the company, providing a workshop-based process for managers and staff to understand climate impacts to mine operations, supply chains, product transport and communities. The guidance was road tested at Newmont’s Nevada operations, and the firm plans to apply the guidance globally in 2017.
Engineers Canada for milestones in its efforts to integrate climate change risks and adaptation in all engineering work. In its 11th year of use, Engineers Canada’s Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC) protocol has been applied to 43 projects in Canada and three internationally. The World Federation of Engineering Organizations adopted PIEVC in its Model Code of Practice: Principles of Climate Change Adaptation for Engineers in December 2015.
2016 saw the first completion of projects that applied the PIEVC protocol to indigenous infrastructure, as well as its use by Toronto Hydro to evaluate its entire distribution network. Additionally, Metrolinx transit agency in Toronto used the PIEVC for planning future procurement of transportation assets. Also in 2016, Engineers Canada announced that a first cohort of engineers were trained and certified as Infrastructure Resilience Professionals.
ICF for its work to assist energy sector stakeholders in managing climate-related risks. In 2016, the firm assisted the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in developing a framework to evaluate energy asset vulnerability to sea level rise and storm surge. Also for DOE, ICF developed a tool to identify climate-related risks to hydropower investments under consideration in developing countries.
Also in the year, ICF staff led a detailed analysis of the vulnerability of electric and gas assets to climate-related hazards for San Diego Gas and Electric, which included multi-hazard exposure modeling and a dynamic mapping application.
For a confidential energy utility client, ICF assessed climate risks to infrastructure and designed resilience strategies. The analysis includes an advanced sea level rise exposure analysis, which is being used to identify specific vulnerable assets and corresponding resilience measures.
Advancing Best Practices: Climate Change Investment Risks and Opportunities
Mercer and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) for their Trillion-Dollar Transformation initiative launched in Q3 2016, which included two reports detailing the financial and legal challenges climate change presents for pension fund trustees and managers and recommending tools for addressing those challenges.
“Climate Change Investment Risk Management for US Public Defined Benefit Plan Trustees” by Mercer identifies approaches trustees can use when considering investment risks from climate change and suggests governance and quantitative frameworks to inform action. The companion legal analysis by CIEL, “Fiduciary Duty, Divestment and Fossil Fuels in an Era of Climate Risk,” reviews how climate change may affect the fiduciary duties of pension fund trustees and concludes that failing to respond climate-related financial risks may be a breach of these duties. Among the recommendations: reducing exposure to climate vulnerable assets, hedging against climate risk by investing in renewable energy and other climate-resilient assets and “actively engaging as a shareholder with owned companies.”
Mercer is a global consulting and professional services firm focused on health and benefits; wealth and investments; workforce and careers; and mergers and acquisitions. The firm is a subsidiary of March & McClennan Companies, which reported $3.135 billion in revenue for Q3 2016, including $1.109 billion for Mercer. Nonprofit CIEL works to protect the environment, promote human rights, and ensure a just and sustainable society through legal counsel, policy research, analysis, education, training and capacity building.
Sustainalytics, a responsible investment ratings and analytics firm, for highlighting the risks and opportunities for institutional investors associated with climate change. In 2016, Sustainalytics published a “10 for 2016” report showcasing the diversity of approaches being taken by large companies to address the challenges posed by climate change. The report focused on companies such as Tesla, Borregaard and Cisco, which Sustainalytics says are “likely to thrive” under the GHG mitigation scenarios envisioned in the Paris Agreement, as well as carbon-intensive energy companies Origin Energy and RWE that are facing challenges in adapting to climate change regulations.
In another 2016 report, “Water Scarcity: Will Investors be Left High and Dry?” Sustainalytics forecast that water scarcity would lead to a “complete overhaul of water management and pricing practices” and investment of up to $25 trillion in water infrastructure spending in the years ahead. The analysts also expect a “major ramp-up in investor activity on water themes in the next few years, driven by the sheer extent of the water scarcity problem and growth in demand for technologies that promise more efficient consumption or new supply.”
With 14 offices globally, Sustainalytics partners with institutional investors that integrate environmental, social and governance information and assessments into their investment processes. The firm has more than 300 staff, including 170 analysts with expertise across more than 40 sectors.
Advancing Best Practices: Clean Distributed Generation and Energy Storage
Con Edison for partnering with renewable energy firms, energy storage vendors and others to develop three advanced demonstration projects and a safety initiative around battery electric storage systems (BESS).
In Queens, Con Edison and RES will build a 2 MW-12 MWh BESS facility adjacent to a substation. The facility, combined with a portfolio of other utility-side and customer-side solutions, is expected to cost $200 million and defer about $1 billion in infrastructure upgrades.
With SunPower and Sunverge, Con Edison began in Q3 2016 to offer solar PV systems paired with BESS storage units to more than 300 New York homeowners. The resulting 1.8 MW of solar power and 4 MWh of storage will create a Clean Virtual Power Plant to help the utility align solar power production with system needs and provide homeowners with backup power.
Con Edison’s Transportable Energy Storage System (TESS) features a 500 kW, 800 kWh BESS system mounted on a 40-foot semi-trailer that can provide mobile load relief and connect to customers at distribution voltage levels.
ConEdison and NYSERDA are working with DNV GL and the Rescue Methods training group on a battery testing laboratory and research program to address building codes and first responder guidelines for utility-scale BESS. Battery chemistries from six Li-ion manufacturers are being tested, as well as lead acid and vanadium redox flow.
UL for supporting the growth of renewable and low-carbon energy with testing, certification, performance verification, advisory and education services. The scope of UL’s renewable energy technology services ranges from wind turbines and solar panels to inverters, smart grid and energy storage technologies.
In 2016, UL acquired leading wind and solar engineering and advisory firm AWS Truepower. The acquisition expands UL’s global renewable energy portfolio and strengthens its solutions for wind and solar energy sectors.
UL is also evaluating the performance and safety of used Lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles-where their lifecycle is about eight years-that are repurposed for usage on electric grids-where the batteries could function for many more years due to less demanding duty cycles. Creating such a “second life” on the grid for EV batteries would significantly improve the economics of plug-in and battery-electric vehicles. UL is developing a protocol to put “samples of used EV batteries … through a pre-determined series of tests … [and to] establish a surveillance program,” according to Forbes.
Technology Merit: Climate Change Risk Modeling and Assessment
Geoanalytics startup Orbital Insight for building land classification tools that can detect and measure different land types, such as fresh water reserves, forest and agricultural land, roads and buildings-and then layering the capability to automatically detect changes in land use. Such technology is critical for detecting climate change indicators such as loss of forest cover and decreases in water levels.
In a partnership with World Resources Institute, Orbital Insights built a land-use classification tool that can make out construction of new roads and buildings in previously forested areas-the first signs of deforestation-so that users can not only track deforestation but also predict it.
Orbital Insight has developed algorithms to count and measure cars, roads, airplanes, clouds, haze, freshwater lakes, agricultural fields and oil tanks to provide what it calls “cutting-edge insights about our changing world,” according to the company. In addition to land classification and water reserves modeling, the firm’s current suite of solutions include U.S. Retail Traffic-which provides almost real time estimates of sales for more than 90 major retailers by counting the cars in parking lots-and World Oil Storage Index-which estimates global oil levels by tracking the shadows cast by floating tank lids. Other solutions include monitoring crop yields and mapping poverty in partnership with the World Bank.
Project Merit: Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience
AECOM for performing a climate change resiliency and adaptation study with RSI and TRCA for Ontario’s Metrolinx, Canada’s largest transit provider. Historic events like the 2013 flood and ice storm prompted Metrolinx to consider increasing its resiliency to extreme events and climate change. Metrolinx employed Engineers Canada’s PIEVC protocol (see award under Advancing Best Practices: Climate change adaptation and resilience), the first use of PIEVC on transit infrastructure.
Assets ranging from maintenance facilities to transit stations and portions of rail corridors were analyzed to develop actionable recommendations. Metrolinx staff, climate experts and external agencies participated in a workshop to discuss significant climatic variables, potential impacts to assets and likelihood of climatic events occurring over the study period. The study concluded that Metrolinx is resilient to climate change in many areas because of its built infrastructure, operating practices or backup systems. However, some infrastructure and operational improvements can be made to provide greater confidence in Metrolinx’s ability to withstand climate change and extreme weather events.
Project Merit: Climate Change Resilient Infrastructure
Tetra Tech for designing a stormwater management system using green infrastructure as part of a park revitalization project in Detroit, Mich. Working with the City of Detroit, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), and Viola Liuzzo Park Assn. (VLPA), Tetra Tech designed three bioretention areas-sometimes referred to as rain gardens-for Viola Liuzzo Park, named after a Detroit civil rights activist who was killed in Alabama after the Selma-to-Montgomery march in 1965. Tetra Tech integrated the bioretention areas into the overall park revitalization plan. The features will treat and infiltrate stormwater from streets and sidewalks while providing landscaping that aligns with the community’s vision for the park.
The goal of DWSD’s Green Infrastructure Program is to reduce the volume of stormwater entering Detroit’s combined sewer system through onsite stormwater management that mimics natural processes of soil and vegetation, reducing the need for costly wastewater treatment while beautifying local neighborhoods. The new Viola Liuzzo Park will honor Detroit’s past and reflect the city’s future as a leader in green infrastructure.
The RainReady program of the Center for Neighborhood Technology for catalyzing legislation and municipal action to prevent flood damage in Cook County, Ill., and for modeling an innovative approach to organizing and branding community-focused climate change resilience efforts. Starting in 2012, CNT, a nonprofit that promotes livable, sustainable urban communities, analyzed data from private insurers, FEMA, and the Small Business Administration to map changing patterns of flood damage in Cook County. Its analysis revealed that flood damage was increasing outside of mapped floodplains-a likely early consequence of climate change. CNT used its report to build support for the Illinois Urban Flooding Awareness Act and also created the RainReady program to work with communities affected by flooding.
With funding from the Army Corps of Engineers and private foundations, CNT worked with the Village of Midlothian, Ill. to create a RainReady Midlothian plan that includes a cost-sharing program to assist homeowners with flood risk renovations and green infrastructure. The plan emphasizes the economic and social benefits of green infrastructure and improved flood resiliency, and CNT worked closely with community leaders and local media to gain wide support in the town.
Building on this success, CNT has expanded RainReady to six adjacent communities, and in 2016 it announced new residential upgrade programs in Chicago and Oak Park, as well as an agreement with Chicago’s Neighborhood Housing Services division and the North West Housing Partnership to assess 320 homes for flood resiliency as part of Cook County’s Residential Resilience Program. A core element of RainReady’s success is developing local support by focusing on the multiple benefits of flood prevention, such as revitalizing downtowns with trails and parks that incorporate green stormwater management infrastructure.