Greening America's Capitals
- Lessons from Greening America’s Capitals Projects
- Communities selected in 2012
- Communities selected in 2011
- Communities selected in 2010
Greening America's Capitals is an EPA program to help state capitals develop an implementable vision of distinctive, environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate innovative green infrastructure strategies. In collaboration with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, EPA provides design assistance to help support sustainable communities that protect the environment, economy, and public health and to inspire state leaders to expand this work elsewhere.
EPA will fund a team of designers to visit each city to produce schematic designs and exciting illustrations intended to catalyze or complement a larger planning process for the pilot neighborhood. Additionally, these pilots could be the testing ground for citywide actions, such as changes to local codes and ordinances to better support sustainable growth and green building. The design team and EPA, HUD, and DOT staff will also assist the city staff in developing specific implementation strategies.
Greening America's Capitals will help communities consider ways to incorporate sustainable design strategies into their planning and development to create and enhance interesting, distinctive neighborhoods that have multiple social, economic, and environmental benefits. The 2012 Request for Letters of Interest closed on June 29, 2012: Read the Request for Letters of Interest (PDF) (5 pp, 604K, About PDF).
Lessons from Greening America’s Capitals Projects
The cities that have received assistance through the Greening America’s Capitals program are all trying to be greener. They are certainly not alone—communities across the country, large and small, are trying to do the same. This pamphlet describes five lessons from the first two rounds of projects that can help all communities incorporate green design strategies into their planning and development. As these capital city projects demonstrate, green, sustainable design can create and enhance interesting, distinctive neighborhoods that have multiple social, economic, and environmental benefits. These lessons can help other communities grow and develop in a greener way.
Lessons from Greening America's Capitals Projects (PDF) (6 pp, 2.6MB, About PDF).
Communities selected in 2012
The projects selected in 2012 are:
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Baton Rouge will receive assistance to plan a greenway in the heart of Louisiana's capital that will connect Louisiana State University with the downtown. The proposed greenway will be a 2.75-mile pedestrian and bicycling corridor that links neighborhoods to parks, businesses, and cultural attractions. The Greening America's Capitals project will create design options that incorporate green infrastructure elements into the greenway plan, which aims to provide environmental benefits while sparking new investments and redevelopment in the city's core. The city of Baton Rouge hopes this project will provide residents and visitors with options for walking and biking that reduce air pollution from automobile travel and encourage active and healthy lifestyles.
Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines will receive assistance to incorporate green infrastructure elements into a proposed streetscape plan for a one-mile segment of 6th Avenue. The 6th Avenue corridor, which serves as the northern gateway to the city's downtown, is a Main Street Iowa Urban Neighborhood District with direct access to the Des Moines River. The Greening America's Capitals project will create design options to revitalize this commercial street, such as wider sidewalks, narrower traffic lanes, better lighting, and improved bus stop shelters, as well as street trees, permeable pavement, and rain gardens to minimize stormwater runoff. The city plans to use the 6th Avenue project to guide designs for other planned streetscape improvements throughout the city.
Frankfort will receive assistance to enhance Second Street between the historic downtown and the state capitol. The intersection at Bridge Street and West Second Street is unsafe for pedestrians; the Greening America's Capital project will create design options to improve connections for pedestrians and motorists. The city will also receive design assistance to connect the downtown with the proposed Kentucky River trail, and to include green infrastructure elements that reduce stormwater runoff and improve water quality for the Kentucky River.
Helena will receive assistance to improve Last Chance Gulch, a street that connects the Helena business district with the historic downtown. Redevelopment in the northern part of Last Chance Gulch has added new office buildings, a new bank, and commercial and residential buildings. As redevelopment continues toward downtown, Greening America's Capitals will help the city and community stakeholders create a common vision that makes the street and intersections friendlier to walking and biking while maintaining the neighborhood's functionality for all users. The project will also help the city solve the challenges of a five-point intersection along Last Chance Gulch. Intersection improvements would be designed to improve traffic flow, create safer crossings for pedestrians and bicyclists, and improve the connection to downtown.
Indianapolis will receive assistance to enhance the walkability of streets and revitalize public plazas in and around the Market Square Redevelopment Area. The area is a short walk from the Indiana Statehouse and an emerging multi-modal transportation hub connected to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. The city plans to create a Green Cultural District in the area; Greening America's Capitals will help the city create a cohesive vision to ensure that redevelopment benefits the area's underserved community, while expanding economic opportunities and improving the environment.
Communities selected in 2011
The projects selected in 2011 are:
The Green Government Center is a Jackson initiative that is exploring retrofitting public spaces within about a half-mile radius of the state capitol building with green technologies. These green technologies include solar-powered water fountains, indigenous and drought-tolerant landscaping, rain gardens for stormwater treatment, and permeable paving systems. The area includes the Farish Street Historic District, the city's oldest African-American community. Several major streets run through the area, including Congress Street, along which sits the state capitol, the city hall, the governor's mansion, and other sites of historical significance.
The city requested assistance from the Greening America's Capitals design team to develop design concepts that use green technologies and green infrastructure for Congress Street and two public parks along the street. The city wants Congress Street to be more bike- and pedestrian-friendly to better connect the civic buildings with adjacent neighborhoods and businesses. Another goal is for Congress Street to have a significant increase in street trees to provide more shade for pedestrians. The city hopes the design options for Congress Street can set an example of green development that can be used across the state.
Report: Greening America's Capitals: Jackson, Mississippi 2012 (PDF) (28 pp, 3.1MB, About PDF)
The city of Lincoln is planning to revitalize the South Capitol neighborhood—a primarily residential neighborhood directly south of the capitol—through improvements to the neighborhood's streets and alleys. The neighborhood currently has deteriorating housing and businesses, wide streets, no bicycle lanes, aging sanitary sewer and water mains, and lower per capita income than the rest of the city. The city will incorporate the Greening America's Capitals project into Mayor Chris Beutler's Stronger, Safer Neighborhood Initiative, which creates public-private partnerships to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood through ongoing community-building activities such as installing public art and sponsoring neighborhood-based, community-wide events.
The Greening America's Capitals team will involve local residents in developing design options for the neighborhood's streets that improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety and comfort, add more street trees, and incorporate green infrastructure elements such as rain gardens to manage and treat stormwater runoff and make the streets more attractive. The city could consider the design options for the South Capitol neighborhood as a model to improve the quality of life for other neighborhoods in Lincoln facing similar issues.
The city of Montgomery is currently working to revitalize and restore the historic Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. The city sees an opportunity to use the trail segment that runs beneath the I-65/I-85 interchange to reconnect downtown with Montgomery's west side—specifically, the Renaissance Neighborhood, the first green redevelopment project in the city.
The city asked for assistance to create design options for improvements to the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail as it passes through the freeway interchange area. The design team will explore how to increase shade, improve lighting, and reduce freeway noise for trail users. The city has also asked for assistance to expand its climate change response planning. Like much of the inland southeast, projected climate changes include higher ambient temperature, decreased annual rainfall, and fewer but more intense storms. The design team will look for opportunities to increase green space to absorb stormwater runoff and help reduce the ambient air temperature.
Lower Grand Avenue is in Phoenix's core and adjacent to downtown and the state capitol. Recent developments along Lower Grand Avenue reveal an emerging, grassroots effort to revitalize the area. In 1998, a federally funded Weed and Seed project, which aimed to reduce violent crime by "weeding" out offenders and "seeding" community services, kick-started a partnership between city, federal, and state agencies, as well as the local faith community, residents, businesses, and nonprofits. This partnership has led to a 40 percent reduction in violent crime over the last 10 years. Artists have colonized the street, taking advantage of inexpensive vacant and underused warehouse and shop spaces. The area is now a focus of an annual art festival and monthly First Fridays art events.
The city asked for assistance to improve the Lower Grand Avenue streetscape, making it more environmentally, pedestrian-, and bicycle-friendly while also maintaining the neighborhood's artistic character. The design team will explore options that use green infrastructure techniques suitable for arid climates to capture and treat stormwater runoff. Design options might also include improvements to pedestrian crossings, transit shelters, and bicycle paths.
Report: Greening America's Capitals: Phoenix, Arizona 2012 (PDF) (44 pp, 5.6 MB, About PDF)
The Anacostia Metrorail station is on the east side of the Anacostia River, an area that Mayor Vincent Gray's administration has prioritized for improvements. The city expects this area to see significant increases in population and visitors due to development at the St. Elizabeth's West Campus (future home of the Department of Homeland Security), two mixed-income developments, and a proposed riverfront development at Poplar Point. This transit node will become an important asset in the community and the city. The city wants to improve the plaza at the Metrorail station and three intersections surrounding the station. Currently, the area lacks a distinctive character and, although it is next to the Anacostia River, it lacks pedestrian access to the river. The intersections surrounding the station are some of the city's most dangerous for pedestrians.
The city is seeking design assistance with improving connections between the Metrorail station and nearby neighborhoods and schools, the Anacostia business district, and the Anacostia River. The design team's areas of focus will be safety concerns at the intersections, improved signage, increasing the overall permeability of the area to manage stormwater, and creating a strong community identity.
Report: Greening America's Capitals: The Anacostia Metro Station Area, Washington, D.C. (PDF) (53 pp, 16.11 MB, About PDF)
Communities selected in 2010
The projects selected in 2010 are:
Boston City Hall lies in the heart of downtown, at the foot of Beacon Hill, next to historic Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, and close to the Massachusetts State House and the financial district. The plaza surrounding Boston City Hall was originally conceived as an outdoor civic space, but today the seven-acre brick plaza fails to serve that purpose or realize its great potential as a public green space. With few trees and little vegetation, the plaza is unshaded and wind-swept and is hard to access or navigate, especially for those with disabilities. Mayor Thomas M. Menino has designated the larger Government City area that includes City Hall and City Hall Plaza as a Green Growth District to become a beacon for green and sustainable growth to unlock development potential in downtown Boston.
The city of Boston asked for assistance through EPA's Greening America's Capitals to create realistic greening options for City Hall Plaza that can be realized in the near term. Goals of the redesign will be to create well-defined edges and entrances, provide more bike access and parking, connect the plaza to existing streets, increase green elements such as trees and vegetation for better stormwater management, and support energy efficiency and green building improvements in City Hall and nearby buildings.
Report: Greening America's Capitals: Boston's City Hall Plaza (PDF) (76 pp, 40MB, About PDF)
Charleston, West Virginia
The city of Charleston requested EPA's assistance in redesigning Slack Plaza, which sits in the middle of Charleston's downtown and is the site of the county's major transit hub. Charleston is the government, business, and cultural hub of the state of West Virginia. The city has made a conscious effort to use public spaces as a means of leveraging sustainable economic development for the city. Two major public spaces near Slack Plaza have been developed in the past year, including improvements to Haddad Riverfront Park and amphitheater to draw people to the Great Kanawha River. With these improvements, the city's next challenge is to tackle a major design shift in the heart of the downtown district.
Three city blocks run through Slack Plaza and serve as a pedestrian connector for two primary commercial areas in the central business district. Despite regular use by employees working downtown and the 2.4 million riders who transfer between the county's bus routes, the city itself acknowledges that the area lacks any green space, has no real sense of place, and is challenged by poor signage and safety issues. EPA's Greening America's Capitals team will work with the city and stakeholders to establish a common vision for Slack Plaza that could transform it into a multi-modal transportation hub and well-used town square. Adding public art, trees, and redesigning the pedestrian corridors to serve a range of users will continue Charleston's efforts to foster a more beautiful and sustainable community.
Report: Greening Slack Plaza: Charleston, West Virginia (PDF) (32 pp, 3.6MB, About PDF)
The city of Hartford is seeking EPA assistance to re-imagine a mile-long portion of Capitol Avenue, a focal point of the city that includes the Connecticut State Capitol and Legislative Building, the State Library, the Supreme Court, and the State Armory, as well as residential and retail areas. The Greening America's Capitals workshop will help Hartford staff and stakeholders create a redevelopment plan for the Capitol Avenue corridor and connections to nearby locations, such as the Frog Hollow neighborhood and a proposed Sigourney Street bus rapid transit station. Redesigns will focus on public open spaces, such as parks and state building grounds, as well as green street improvements that better manage stormwater, improve the pedestrian environment and aesthetic character of Capitol Avenue, and encourage future redevelopment. EPA's Greening America's Capitals work will complement the National Endowment for the Arts' iQuilt project to link cultural assets and integrate new public spaces along the Capitol Avenue corridor.
Report: Greening America's Capitals: Hartford, Connecticut (PDF) (52 pp, 84.7MB, About PDF)
Jefferson City, Missouri
Jefferson City requested EPA assistance with an area of the city core that serves as the gateway to the State Capitol and larger Capital Complex. The Wears Creek and Millbottom area has become a flood-prone and forgotten zone of the city that includes vacant properties and parking lots. Through a collaborative on-site workshop, Jefferson City will work with a team of designers to develop aesthetically and functionally valuable landscape architecture designs that will result in both community and water quality benefits. Using detailed visuals and graphics, this assistance will work to improve public access to the Missouri River and integrate brownfield cleanup and redevelopment and appropriate reuse of currently vacant lands.
The Jefferson City project is also one of the first projects associated with the EPA Administrator's new Urban Waters focus, which seeks to support communities in their efforts to access, improve, and benefit from their urban waters and the surrounding land. EPA's Urban Waters efforts place particular emphasis on engaging underserved neighborhoods and on providing equitable access to urban waters through well-planned community revitalization. EPA's assistance to Jefferson City will integrate the goals of both the Agency's Urban Waters and Partnership for Sustainable Communities' efforts.
Report: Greening America's Capitals: Jefferson City, Missouri (PDF) (70 pp, 4.39 MB, About PDF)
Little Rock, Arkansas
The city of Little Rock has been investing in its local economic, environmental, and civic sustainability, in part, by revitalizing key neighborhoods. One example is the River Market District, which lost much of its downtown business to suburban sprawl, but through a riverfront redevelopment effort, and impetus from the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park, the area now boasts a mix of local businesses, museums, galleries, restaurants, residences, and a historic farmers market. The next area the city plans to revitalize is the Main Street corridor, which runs north-south and connects to the now-thriving River Market District.
The Greening America's Capitals design team will assist Little Rock with streetscape improvements that will help catalyze the redevelopment potential of the Main Street corridor. Focusing on key activity centers along the corridor, the redesign will highlight the impact that new pocket parks and reuse of vacant parking lots could have on encouraging future redevelopment and more pedestrian activity to support ground-floor retail and a future trolley line. This work will build on work the city has already begun through the Mayors' Institute on City Design, a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the American Architectural Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, to engage the public and identify key assets and challenges that should be addressed in the Main Street area.
Report: Greening America's Capitals: Little Rock, Arkansas (PDF) (47 pp, 10 MB, About PDF)