In August of 2018, Woodward Iowa Certified the nations first Green Certified Site. We spoke to Julie Johnson for GDCDA, the lead on the project, about some things this site had to do in order to achieve this groundbreaking status. These are as follows:

A green sustainable certified site meets all the requirements of a standard certified site but also requires additional steps.

Besides the required seven due diligence studies:

  • Phase I Report
  • Floristic Quality Assessment
  • Wetlands Delineation Report
  • S. Fish & Wildlife Species report
  • Archeological and Historical Report
  • Geotech Report
  • Topography Study

Three additional reports were conducted:

  • Energy Utilization
  • Ground Heat Exchange
  • Wind & Solar Study

A new zoning district was created for the sustainable site, E-1 Eco-Business Park and protective covenants were put in place:

  • Tenants must utilize green infrastructure practices to infiltrate, evapotranspire, capture and reuse the water quality volume to maintain or restore natural hydrology
  • Harvest, treat and reuse rainwater and/or greywater to meet a portion for the project’s water needs
  • Avoid conventional irrigation and use native vegetation that minimizes water usage
  • Tenants must maintain a 100-foot buffer around existing high-quality wetlands for parking and building developments
  • Provide priority parking for carpooling
  • Incorporate charging stations for electric vehicles into site layout and build the utility conduits for the infrastructure at the time of facility construction to proactively prepare for installation as demand grows
  • Tenants must incorporate into their site plan the pedestrian and bike access ways that are planned throughout the interior of the park and to the park boundaries
  • Provide access to shower/locker areas and bike parking/storage
  • Tenants must design and construct facilities to LEED certification standards
  • Tenants must meet the standards of the Model Lighting Ordinance by the International Dark Sky Association and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America
  • Participate in a renewable energy purchase program offered by the electrical service provider OR use onsite renewable energy systems to offset 5% of facility energy costs
  • Institute recycling program
  • Adopt measures to reduce heat islands either through non-roof methods, such as shade with plants or architectural structures, or roof methods such as highly reflective or vegetated roofs

The Dallas County Woodward Eco Business Park as a Certified Green Business Park is the first in the State of Iowa as well as the first in the United States.  Forward-thinking created the recognition of the importance of environmentally sensitive design in an effort to reduce the impact of the future development footprint in our environment.

Read more about it here:

Hello all.

Last week explored two crucial aspects when attracting green businesses. This week, the previous two amenities we see in most green company requests: Business Climate and Incentives. We also will go over some covenants that sites targeting green companies may want to consider for a business park.

The business climate is vital to all businesses. Are your state, your county, and your community invested in making companies prosper? Most of the cities I work with cannot effectively influence the state and have a difficult time impacting county directives. They, however, can be agile, proactive, and quickly react when faced with issues. Proactively, we recommend education of councils on things like TIF, Urban Renewal, the pace of projects, and the need to be agile. Agility is key as issues always arise with projects and a community’s ability to quickly and efficiently address these issues, especially in rural communities, provide assurances to the companies looking to move there. Green companies want to see sustainability already embraced, like LEED buildings, City offices, and other community facilities promoting energy reduction. Recycling programs, infill incentives, and promotion of energy-efficiency rehab tax reduction all let green companies know that their philosophy and culture will mesh well in the community. Less frequent but still important to some are the local wages, social services, and other worker support systems as it relates to responsible social impacts.

Next, the 900-pound gorilla, the elephant, the third rail if you will: cash — specifically, incentives. For most industries, a community, county, and state have set parameters and awards. High-Quality jobs, retraining, local purchasing of goods all can reduce the amount of capital a company either has to invest initially or will be rebated in the future. Green companies are the same way. To attract a company focusing on responsibly building, responsible business practices, and social awareness, incentivize the things they a; ready do or what you want them to do. Provide rebates for solar panels, more so if they allow residential or community buildings to connect to the lines. Look at the water usage and recycling plan. Would it beneficial to reduce the tax or fee in correlation to them reducing their impact on the system? We have seen companies fight to eliminate their property taxes for ten years to turn around and use a PILOT (Payment in lieu of taxes) for nearly the same amount. This stabilizes their cost and creates a fixed cost. The city then gets what they would have made in property taxes and distributes it as they see fit. This does impact the capture emergency services and school get from taxes, but responsible cities pledge a percentage, again, roughly the same amount they would have received from taxes to the parties.

So, before we begin to target green companies, we need:

Infrastructure planned and green energy as part of that plan

Risk mitigated sites, primarily environmental issues

A favorable business climate and one with the green philosophy and culture at the heart

Incentives the increase with the “greenness” of the business and their continued efforts to become greener.

Next week, we will look at Woodward, Iowa, the nation’s first Green Certified Building Site and what makes them unique.

Good morning!

Over the past few posts and for the next few more, we have been looking at Green Business/Industry as an economic driver and target market. The last post, we differentiated between Green Company and Green Industry (the first concerning themselves with their business impact and the later assisting others with reducing impact.) This post, we will discuss two proactive steps communities can take before and while they are targeting Green Companies.

First, Green is a niche market. Though the trend is for every business to embrace some green practices, true Green Businesses represent a very small sector. This is not meant to be disheartening; instead, it is an opportunity. If there are businesses with a deep concern for environmental and social impact looking to expand, having a boutique zoning and uniquely designed with green initiatives will be more attractive than a site where the business must do all the sustainable work itself.

So, what do Green Businesses look for in new sites?

Our advice: treat Green Businesses as you would any other sector. Study the trends, find the key factors, and plan to address them. As we see it, every business entity, including green, look for infrastructure, site studies and any risk found in the studies mitigated, a welcoming business climate, and some sort of enticement/incentive when moving or building.

Infrastructure: No business will move to a location that cannot be served in a feasible (cost effective) way. This is true of green businesses as well. On-site renewable energy, renewable focused utility providers, progressive stormwater and wastewater covenants, and mass transit to and from the site are all recent examples of information requested by green companies.

Risk mitigated: Wetlands, endangered species, cultural history, soil, and any other required studies can be done before a site visit by an interested party. These are of particular concern of green companies, especially if there are any issues found. Mitigating these risks may cost the community upfront, but providing official documentation that the land is ready does two things: It advances timelines for construction at least 6 months (the minimum time it takes to complete these studies) and it makes the land more marketable, thus worth more, allowing the community to recoup the investment.

We realize this is a very macro view of Green Sites, but we have often found that communities make it more complicated than necessary. Next post, we will take on Business Climate and Incentives.

The last blog, we discussed that Green initiatives aim to balance the progress of business and humanity with the impacts these advancements make on the earth and finite resources. This post, we hope to differentiate between a Green Business and those in the Green industry.

Green business has the central goal of reducing, optimally to zero; its impact is on the environment (local, regional, and global), the community resources, or the local and global economy and human rights. That convoluted statement can be boiled down to this simple idea: impacts outweigh profits. That is not to say there is no room for profit; instead, profits need to be measured against the human capital and resources required to make those profits. New Belgium Beers is an example of this. They issue bicycles to each of their employees to reduce vehicle use, they have installed solar panels to minimize impact on local utilities, they self-impose a 12% tax on internal utility usage that goes to renewable projects onsite, they cycle their peak demand in opposition with the peak demand of the community reducing stress on the utility provider, and they recycle 99.9% of waste, including rerouting byproduct methane, a greenhouse gas, into the heating system of the brewery. New Belgium is also the fourth largest (by market share) independent brewer and eighth overall in the US. This success is due, in part to, their corporate culture and sustainable practices, showing that profits and green practices are not mutually exclusive.

A business in the Green industry, however, do not necessarily follow the same model. Instead, they produce, create, or sell sustainable items, develop, and implement eco-friendly programs, or provide guidance for sustainable development. An example of this is Impact 7G, a Dallas County firm. Their environmental scientists, planners, geologists, biologists, foresters, drillers, geographic information system analysts, and regulatory specialists are committed to providing quality data and information for sustainable solutions. So, in addition to reducing their impact, Impact 7G works with others to help advance the sustainable idea.

It is a fine line, but we like to say a Green business optimizes itself, a Green Industry business optimizes others. This distinction is pivotal as an ED group, a chamber, or a community begins to target market to these sectors as they have different requirements.

Next, we will explore the general community and site requirements that Green businesses look for.

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