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Municipal Incentives Encourage Green Building & Sustainability

The American Institute of Architects and the National Association of Counties recently released a report analyzing “green incentives” best practices.  Many incentives have been used by municipalities over the years, but this report compiles case studies from across the country to highlight some of the best uses of green incentives to encourage sustainable development.

Green Building Incentive Trends: Strengthening Communities, Building Green Economies is meant to be a guidebook for municipal leaders to learn from national case studies in order to decide what green incentive program would work best in their communities.  Obviously, every community is unique with different characteristics and challenges that may not work with certain practices.  The AIA and NACo seek to provide a menu of options to municipalities through the handbook.

The report found the “most attractive incentives to the private sector were tax incentives, density bonuses, and expedited permitting.”  The incentives were not successful alone, however.  According to the report, green incentives are most successful and effective “when combined with robust advocacy efforts and strong support from the public.”  It takes an entire community embracing the effort through a multi-sector approach to be successful.  But it is important to note that such public support requires public engagement, two-way conversations, and community input that is taken into account during the planning process.

Replicable and transferable best practices are so important to collaboration and cooperation among regional partners, especially when things like green incentives are implemented on the local government level.  Doesn’t it make sense for us to learn from other successful municipalities nationwide and then work with our regional partners to implement successful practices?  Isn’t it logical for us to collaborate as a region to implement plans for a better community when we live and work beyond the confines of our municipal boundaries, yet within the larger Lehigh Valley?  It seems like a no-brainer to replicate something that has been proven to better the community elsewhere and implement similar policies here in the Lehigh Valley for a greener, healthier, and happier region.

The report can be found at: http://admin.naco.org/programs/csd/Documents/Green%20Government/GB%20Issue%20Brief-Green%20Building%20Incentive%20Trends.pdf

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