One of the fundamental conclusions in the Pew Oceans Commission America’s Living Oceans Report 2003 is that…”In the long term, economic sustainability depends on ecological sustainability.” This fact was not lost when Congress enacted the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies (RESTORE) Act which emphasized the dual interest of restoring our coastal ecology and coastal economy in the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
A common thread throughout Mississippi’s GoCoast 2020 report on recovery and restoration prepared after the BP Oil Spill, highlighted the importance of the Mississippi Gulf Coast with its “quality of life and sense of place”. That quality of life and sense of place is part of our DNA and it is reflected in the culture of the people that live and work on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Viability, resiliency, and long-term sustainability are also common themes which must be considered when developing projects in our fragile yet dynamic coastal environment.
As we continue to make plans to implement economic develop projects in the aftermath of the BP Oil Spill, it is important to consider concepts that allow development that embraces our fragile environment, recognizes the design challenges created by coastal hazards (e.g. Hurricanes, Sea Level Rise, and Flooding), and builds on the traditional values that are part of the Gulf Coast’s heritage. The following are three development concepts to consider as we move forward in our efforts to recover from the BP Oil Spill.
Green infrastructure is a design concept that uses vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage stormwater runoff and create healthier urban environments. Green infrastructure refers to the patchwork of natural areas that provide habitat, flood protection, and cleaner water.
Green building (also known as sustainable building) refers to a structure and process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.
Low Impact Development LID is an approach to land development that employs principles of preserving and recreating natural landscape features, minimizing paved areas to create functional and appealing site drainage that treat stormwater as a resource rather than a waste product.
The concepts outlined above are important principles and processes that add value to development activities and the “The Triple Bottom Line“, for projects along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In so many ways they help to improve our quality of life (People), they reduce project impacts on the environment (Planet), and the enhance a building’s life-cycle and sustainability (Profit).