Ahead of the Curve: Albuquerque, New Mexico Sustainability Case Study
Ahead of the Curve blog series, authored by HB Lanarc and sponsored by BasicGov, explores trends in municipal management, including a move to adopt sustainable practices. Leading communities are taking on all of these trends and leveraging opportunities to improve services to citizens and productivity.
An example of a leading community is Albuquerque, NM, where the City recently developed Albuquerque Green, a strategic sustainability plan for the whole community. The plan outlined how the City would meet commitments including the US Mayor’s Climate Action Charter and Architecture 2030 Challenge and many others, through an integrated approach to land use, transportation, buildings, open space, and other aspects of community development. Albuquerque reports its progress against goals in each area on a regular basis, and makes this information available to residents over the web.
This reporting requires, in some areas, integration of information from the development approvals process. For example, the City has one of America’s leading green building programs, encompassing Building Code updates to require higher energy performance and a strong incentive program to encourage green buildings, called the Green Path. Leveraging the local entrepreneurial culture, and recognizing business realities, the City’s incentives focus on reducing development costs for green building. They include financial incentives, reduced impact fees, recognition in City communications and advertising, and an expedited permitting process.
In the permitting process, developers of green buildings meeting certain criteria (e.g. LEED registration for commercial buildings) can apply to go through an integrated plan review process. With dedicated staff and plans routed to two sections at a time, permitting time is cut in half. The process is managed using a custom software application that helps staff to keep on top of permit progress, ensuring that the promised shorter permitting times are realized. Staff use the system to track the number and size of green building projects, with 1 million sq ft of green buildings permitted in 2008, representing 15% of all new construction. On-line reporting of Green Path progress, using this and other data, is in the works. Albuquerque will shortly have a system for green building that incorporates all three of the key opportunities identified above.
If you ‘d like to learn more about this project, feel free to email me or post a comment,
Peter Whitelaw, HB Lanarc
Previous Ahead of the Curve blog posts Trend 1 – Drive toward sustainability, Trend 2 – Mounting fiscal challenges, Trend 3 – public demands for accountability, Trend 4 – reduce red tape, Trend 5 – risk management, Trend 6 – preparing for emergencies, Development process – manage land use, Leadership opportunity 1 – making sustainability a daily consideration; Leadership opportunity 2 – cheaper, faster, more resilient processes; Leadership opportunity 3 – making visions real.
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