Both government and foundation leaders recently joined together at the Council of Michigan Foundations’ InFocus Southeast Michigan event to learn more about how Detroit’s green infrastructure efforts are making a difference through a triple-bottom line return – creating economic, social, and environmental impact by bringing together communities and revitalizing neighborhoods where families live, work, and play.
“Sustainability isn’t always well understood,” Jodee Fishman Raines, vice president of programs, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation said. “But it is the lens we must look through when we talk about development. When it comes to sustaining Detroit’s water supply…we must look at meeting the city’s needs today without compromising future generations.”
The Erb Family Foundation is involved in green infrastructure through its grantmaking and support.
The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, an Erb Family Foundation grantee, has installed a retention pond that collects water in an area of the farm prone to seasonal flooding. From there, a solar-powered pump moves it uphill to a raised cistern where it can then be used for drip irrigation.
The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation also supports green infrastructure efforts in conjunction with Eastern Market and the Nature Conservancy.
“The goal is to make Eastern Market the economic engine for all of Detroit,” Lavea Brachman, vice president of programs, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation said. “Eastern Market is looking to expand its area for more local businesses. It’s a multi-faceted project with economic investment possibilities for green infrastructure.”
Palencia Mobley, deputy director/chief engineer for Detroit Water & Services Department, said green infrastructure can provide an array of benefits to Detroiters, including:
- Reduced storm water drainage charge through DWSD’s Drainage Charge Credit program.
- Beautification and increased property values. Homes with new street plantings can increase in property value by up to 10 percent.
- Reduced violence rates. Greened parcels are associated with reduced assaults, vandalism, and more. Greened parcels can also support increased exercise and healthy actions.
- Reduced wastewater treatment costs citywide. Using green infrastructure to reduce 20 percent of storm water runoff from major roads in the City of Detroit can reduce treatment costs by approximately $2 million annually.