Sustainability projects are launching at local levels of government throughout America

May 15, 2024

Sustainability has been a global goal for over five decades, but today’s conversations about sustainability are more robust than ever. Government leaders everywhere are launching initiatives that preserve systems, structures, safety and the planet.

There are so many funding programs for sustainability projects it’s difficult to list them all. A few agencies with large amounts of funding available to support initiatives that meet sustainability guidelines include:

Environmental Protection Agency: The EPA funds sustainability projects focused on environmental conservation, pollution prevention and sustainable development.

Department of Energy: This agency has funding for research, development and deployment of clean energy technologies, energy efficiency improvements and other sustainability initiatives.

Department of Agriculture: The USDA supports sustainable agriculture projects, renewable energy systems and conservation efforts that promote environmental resilience.

Department of Housing and Urban Development: HUD funds sustainable housing and community development projects, including green building initiatives, affordable housing and climate resilience projects.

Department of Transportation: The DOT supports public transit improvements, bike and pedestrian infrastructure and alternative fuel vehicle initiatives.

National Science Foundation: The NSF allocates funds for research and innovation related to renewable energy, climate change mitigation and environmental science.

Federal Emergency Management Agency: FEMA funds hazard mitigation projects that enhance community resilience to natural disasters and climate change impacts.

Department of Commerce: This agency supports economic development and initiatives focused on ocean conservation, fisheries and coastal resilience.

These are just a few examples of funding sources currently available.  Together, the programs amount to billions of dollars and will be used for upcoming projects throughout the country. Sustainability is and has always been an American goal. Funding support is not new – it is  just more abundant than in the past. Because of climate change, pollution, water contamination and biodiversity loss, funding will continue to be available for the next several years. Examples of upcoming projects that fit into the sustainability category are outlined below.

The city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has received federal funding for a $48 million stormwater infrastructure improvement project. A Community Sustainability Plan was developed, outlining the project’s goals. These include protection from flooding, improvement of the environment and an upgrade to water quality for citizens in the region. City leaders say climate change has caused significant damage to the region’s stormwater infrastructure system, which was developed in the 1990s. After decades of use, the system has only minimal capabilities and functionality. It also creates a notable health risk for city residents.

This project will be designed to eliminate floodplain areas along Arcadia Creek. Pipes will be installed using a new open-creek concept, and a resilient infrastructure design will create a canal system and a pedestrian walkway. The goal is to ensure the sustainability of water infrastructure, flood prevention and citizen safety. Work on the stormwater upgrades will begin in the spring of 2025.

The University of Houston plans to invest $35 million to construct a student gathering space, upgraded pedestrian walkways and stormwater improvements throughout the campus. The initiative falls under the heading of a Centennial Project; its goal is sustainability. A new plaza will be developed in the central campus area, and the project will include planting new trees for additional shading and the construction of several seating areas. The ambiance will revolve around connectivity, ecological mindfulness and a happy place that enhances the student experience.

The $35 million will support other sustainable, resilient landscaping and numerous stormwater infrastructure improvements. Other project components will include sidewalk renovations and lighting upgrades. Construction will begin in 2025.

A partnership between city leaders in Hoquiam and Aberdeen in Washington will oversee a $100 million North Shore Levee project. The necessary funding has been obtained, and a construction launch is planned for 2026. The levee project will safeguard both cities from coastal flooding by constructing a 16-foot high, five-mile-long levee. The overall effort carries a cost projection of $182 million because another levee and a pump station will also be required.

The city of Westminster, Colorado, will renovate and expand its outdated Westminster Municipal Courthouse. The facility can no longer meet the city’s needs. The project, estimated to cost about $43 million, will be located on the current five-acre lot. Improvements will include site grading, improved drainage, a new parking lot and renovation of the courthouse. Additional project components will include developing an outdoor playground area, upgrading utilities and implementing modern construction practices that conserve energy.

Originally built in 1961, the Westminster Municipal Courthouse is overcrowded and does not meet ADA regulatory standards or current safety and security features. A planned renovation will create separate entrances for defendants and jurors, and the expansion will include upgraded facilities, storage areas and more. The project is currently in the design phase, and construction solicitations are scheduled for early 2025.

Most states have planned sustainability projects, and these upcoming contracting opportunities are currently in various stages of preparation for a launch soon. Some are waiting for the completion of a feasibility study, a community input effort, or an environmental assessment. As the country enters this year’s hurricane season, a hot summer that often involves wildfires, and the preparation months leading up to a fall school year, upcoming projects of all types can be found.

Photo courtesy of the University of Houston

Mary Scott Nabers

Mary is President/CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a business development/public affairs firm that specializes in procurement consulting, market research, government affairs, knowledge transfer and public-private partnerships (P3s). Mary is also co-founder of the Gemini Global Group (G3), a firm that works with national and international clients on business development, P3s, and other types of government objectives.

A recognized expert regarding P3s, Mary is the author of Collaboration Nation – How Public-Private Ventures Are Revolutionizing the Business of Government and Inside the Infrastructure Revolution – A Roadmap for Rebuilding America.

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