Learn About EcoDistricts and its Big Picture Approach to Building

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EcoDistrict is an Urban Planning Goal
The field of green building is developing quickly and brings with it a new vocabulary. One buzzword is ‘EcoDistrict'. The term signifies an urban planning goal to integrate both sustainable development and reduce the ecological footprint of a project, from its inception to its conclusion. It's a holistic or ‘big picture' approach to development that embraces a complete range of environmental goals – and comes with ambitious levels of requirements. Creative partnerships, governance and financing models are often required to bring plans to reality.
The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is a non-profit national organization advancing green building and sustainable development practices. It offers a number of courses for the building industry, including seminars, webinars, green building workshops, lectures and information sessions at both the local level and nationally at its annual conference. The courses cover the range of green building concerns, many focusing on corporate education solutions, LEED exam preparation and LEED Credential Maintenance. And, not surprisingly, an important new initiative, integral to the CaGBC mandate, is the EcoDistrict.
The EcoDistrict Course
The CaGBC now offers this workshop: ‘EcoDistrict Practitioners: Accelerating District-Scale Sustainability'. An in-depth and interactive full day training course, it is aimed at equipping professionals and communities with the tools they need in order to build comprehensive green neighborhood initiatives. The first session was delivered in Toronto by Rob Bennett, the highly regarded Executive Director of the Portland Sustainability Institute, a leader in EcoDistrict conceptualization and development. The course addresses challenges such as organizing stakeholders, financing staff and projects, and providing municipal policy support. It also covers neighbourhood-scale innovation, and present strategies to accelerate integrated development, infrastructure and community action. Course content draws from lessons learned in Portland, Oregon's pilot EcoDistricts, where the approach is currently being applied. Technical, financial and policy implications are also discussed.
This workshop is aimed at anyone involved in the planning of sustainability in the built environment, but especially municipalities, architects, planners, developers, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations. The workshop covers project assessment and best practices in the areas of district energy and water management, multi-modal transportation, green infrastructure and waste management.
A Natural Fit for CaGBC
The EcoDistrict is a natural fit with the CaGBC's goal of building sustainable communities on a more holistic scale, by helping municipalities and the industry shift its thinking from green building at the single building scale to city-wide. A part of this goal has also involved developing and introducing new tools for municipal staff – offerings like CaGBC's Municipal Green Building Toolkit and the soon-to-be-released LEED Policy Database.
There is great potential for the development of these types of projects in Canada, and the CaGBC hopes this training will assist both municipalities and grassroots community groups in fostering and advancing EcoDistrict initiatives in communities across Canada. CaGBC's EcoDistricts initiative brings together community stakeholders, property developers, utilities, and cities to solidify a shared sense of purpose and partnership. The course is just one of many offered by CaGBC and available to its membership across Canada.
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