Greening the Columbia Association

Friday April 17, 2009

The current issue of Public Administration Times contains an article called “Strategic ‘Greening’ for Municipal Park and Recreation Agencies” by Steven N. Waller. The article does not appear online, but there are a few key ideas the Columbia Association could adopt.

The first is the adoption of non-gasoline fueled vehicles. The CA maintains a large fleet of specialty and general purpose vehicles. These vehicles tend to have a fixed life span and could be transitioned to hybrid or compressed natural gas as they are replaced.

The second idea ripe for adoption is gray-water reuse systems. Gray-water reuse systems collect water from storm water, fountains, or other decorative purposes, and filter it before making it available to flower beds. This reduces the total load on the wastewater system and reduces freshwater demands for plants.

The most interesting idea however, is the installation of green roofing. Green roofs provide a full living surface of plants on the roof of otherwise occupied buildings. Plants there live and grow in a soil base maintained for the specific purpose. The positive effects of green roofing are reduced heating and cooling costs, reduced storm water runoff, and improves local air quality.

Each of these ideas are simple low-cost steps that would allow the CA to reduce long-term costs while improving the environment for all Columbians. Additionally, these steps could be practiced by other organizations in Columbia and Howard County to improve the environment regionally. While we often speak of greening the CA, the CA is only a small contributor to the solution.